Rather than conceding the errors in their flawed “social costs of alcohol” report (reported here, here, here and here), the alleged economists at BERL are resorting instead to rationalistic nonsense to support the report whose conclusions they were paid to find. Their alcohol study's lead author, Mr Adrian Slack (whose photo at right, I think, tells you as much as you need to know about how his mind works), begins by arguing that they weren’t paid to study the benefits of alcohol, only the costs -- to do a full cost-benefit study would have cost the client another $135,000 says Mr Slack – and ends by talking palpable nonsense:
”So for example someone who murders someone, from the individual’s point of view, Eric would be, I presume, quite comfortable with that.
The person who decides to murder someone else makes an evaluation of what are the benefits and costs to me of this action? Society says ‘well some people do murder other people’, but society says ‘that’s not good.’”
The argument is as tangled as the grammar. Perhaps it was something Mr Slack was drinking ?
In response to what BK Drinkwater calls “a pretty damn strong candidate for non sequitur of the year,” Eric Crampton (who co-authored the intellectual destruction of Mr Slack’s work) kicks Slack again while he’s down: Of externalities, elbows, and knowing one from the other.
And Paul Walker also responds to Slack’s rationalistic nonsense, saying in part "I may have had some doubts about what goes on at BERL before now but after reading the National Business Review I really do wonder what goes on inside a BERL economists head.” He has much, much more as well.
One begins to wonder if someone should commission research on the cost to consultants of a failed reputation. I suspect it would be much greater than $135,000.
UPDATE: Eric Crampton clarifies:
“I wasn't so much trying to kick someone when he's down as put on record that I'm not in favour of murder, lest someone down the track say something like ‘Eric Crampton, who has never rebutted allegations of being pro-murder, also ...’ "