Deloitte were employed by the “big 3″ in Australian legal carcinogen sales (Phillip Morris, BAT, Imperial Tobacco) to work out the transaction costs imposed on retailers and customers by the recently-passed “plain packaging” legislation for cigarettes. Their report suggests total annual costs of $460 million or $34,000 per retailer. This covers the costs of vendors and customers having to scour shelves looking for the right brand. What nonsense given that the brand name does still appear on the pack*. You wonder what people participated in this report and how much they got paid. I wonder since I am sure I get paid a lot less.
I have not yet sold my soul to the devil but, hey, I’ll offer my services for other socially responsible endeavours and I guarantee that I’ll charge less than Deloitte would. How much am I bid for a polished report demonstrating that:
- A carbon tax will immiserise the country and drive us back to living under “stone age” conditions;
- The proposed MRRT will end mining in Australia and reduce male sperm counts;
- Congestion pricing of roads will force down real incomes by 50% and lead to streets being overrun by overweight middle-aged male bicyclists wearing (I stand corrected IC) Lycra?
On any of these issues I’ll throw in some econometric research and socio-babble for an extra 20%. For example, with 500,000 overweight bicyclists each imposing a disutility cost of $10,000 on residents who collapse in orgasms of disgust on seeing resilient biker lard the aggregate community cost of controlling congestion must be greater than $5 billion. This is an outrage and a clear indication that increased subsidies to the local motor vehicle assembly industry are not only warranted – they save us money. Moreover, the fitness industry should be subsidised and a tariff imposed on imported bicycles. More vehicle emissions in this setting would be welfare-improving as would gun subsidies to rednecks who seek to rid our society of the slimy green, bicycle-loving international socialist menace who now occupy our universities.
I can, of course, deliver sludge of equal quality for radical leftists though I would have to check their credit ratings before I did so and might need to demand anonymity. For example, 50% wage increases following a $200m public boost to the vehicle assembly industry will almost certainly provide productivity gains.
Update: Deloitte have done other consulting work for the carcinogen giants including this study on illegal tobacco. According to Deloitte the share of illegal tobaccos grew from 6% of the market in 2007 to a massive 15.9% in 2010. The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health and Ageing estimated the share at a stationary 3% which is less than 1/5th of the Deloitte estimate. Who should one believe?
* $35,000 per store annually is $673 per week or $96 per day. My guess is that shop assistants get a wage of around $20 so that this cost estimate I guess assumes nearly 5 hours of shop assistant time per day per shop deciphering cigarette brands that do have the brand name (inconspicuously) on the pack.