At some points, I would differ in emphasis. It’s hard to judge how much alcoholism is a cause of the rotten Russian polity and the decrepit Russian economy and society, and to what extent it is an effect, with people drinking because there’s nothing better to do. And I would weigh seriously the benefits of tobacco taxation in reducing smoking against their cost in impoverishing poor habitual smokers.
But overall we see eye to eye (and Reihan is overly generous in crediting me with work that is only partly mine; most of what I know about alcohol policy comes from Mark Moore and Phil Cook).Â
But, having agreed, we face the problem that the solutions we want, both with respect to alcohol and with respect to cannabis, lack both popular support and – more crucially – support from people and institutions with deep pockets. The political economy of vice regulation under a money-driven political system is always likely to lead to bad policies and bad outcomes.