One of the oddest things for a Canadian to read about in that great beery conversation is the role of taxation. You would think that this would be a hot item if the Brewer's Association of Canada is correct when it makes this statement:
Canada, with an average tax rate of 50% on beer, is the second highest taxed country in the world. The combination of municipal, provincial/territorial and federal taxes draw $4.3 billion annually from the brewing industry and its consumers. These tax dollars are used to support government investment in core infrastructure such as hospitals, schools and roads.
But it really isn't any source of heat, no cause for public outrage. We pay what we are asked to pay largely without a peep about how much of it goes into public services. With that reality facing beer drinkers here, it is a bit odd to read the arguments that swirl around beer pricing in the UK as in this article. There seem to be so many contrary and complex policy issues at play in the UK that frankly don't cause a ripple in our society. If a beer were brewed at 4.8% as opposed to 5% no one would really care even though that is the same as the new narrowed cereal boxes foisted upon us in the grocery aisle. I suppose we'd love a price that was only 1/3 taxation as in Britain but, as the liquor stores are pretty much all state owned and/or supplied, as far as I can tell the difference between sales tax, excise tax, retail markup and wholesale markup means little to most beer buyers.
Are we so bamboozled by the system that the difficulty understanding the constituent elements of price has made us docile? Or, as the Brewer's Association implies in the last sentence quoted above, are we so satisfied that the various forms of markup all go to the good that it is not an issue? Just an alternative to direct taxation that at least comes with a buzz?