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Category: Dave Brockington

The Labour Party behaving like . . . The Labour Party?

[ 30 ] July 2, 2012 |

The Labour Party in the UK is flirting with re-nationalising British Rail.  Fares are due to increase an average of 6% this year, and Britain already has the most expensive train system in Europe:

Making it clear that Labour agreed with many ideas in the report, which was funded by the main rail unions, Eagle said: “Under the current system we have unaccountable train companies given a licence to print money to operate a monopoly service at high cost to passengers in an industry that still relies on £4bn from taxpayers every year.

“Increasingly franchises are run by subsidiaries of the German, French and Dutch state railways with profits helping deliver ticket prices in those countries that are a third of ours. Labour’s policy review is therefore looking at all options to make our railways work better for passengers with nothing ruled out, including whether the not-for-dividend model that works for rail infrastructure should be extended to rail services.”

In my experience, in addition to being the most expensive, it’s also hilariously inefficient and unreliable.  When I lived in Holland for three years, I used Nederlandse Spoorwegen extensively (as one would living in Amsterdam and later Rotterdam while working in Enschede), and it was cheap (especially with the Vordeelkaart, which for 50 Euros per year gave me a 40% discount off peak) and reliable.  Likewise, given my past life in the beer community, I frequently took the train in Belgium, France, and held a Bahncard for the Deutsche Bahn for three years.  While more expensive than the Dutch card, the Bahncard’s 50% reduction paid for itself with a single return from Amsterdam to Munich.  Bonus, as munich has the odd decent beer.

Such consumer-friendly accoutrements are thin on the ground in the UK.  I’m not sure that this is due to privatization per se, but if Margaret Thatcher considered privatising British Rail “a bridge too far”, perhaps sending the rail network to Arnhem wasn’t the best idea.  While it would have been complicated, and counter to his “third way” rebranding of the Labour Party, Tony Blair could have reversed this in 1997, but he did quite the opposite.

Politically, this is a winner, especially if framed as above (the Germans, Dutch, and French state systems own chunks of ours, and hey look, their fares are 1/3 of ours).  I’d drop references to the “non dividend model” and comparisons with Network Rail (which is a loser), and state it simply: we’re going to nationalise the rail network and bring it under public accountability.  With parties struggling to differentiate themselves (outside of France or Greece), this makes a clear distinction for Labour.

The rail network does not operate as a market.  Each route is run as a monopoly.  I do have choice out of Plymouth, between two services, as far as Exeter (and, on rare occasion, Bristol).  If I want to go to London, there’s one choice.  If I want to go to the northwest, there’s one choice.  It’s not a free market, unless I want to rent a car or take the bus, so stop with the charade.

Determinants of State Level Support for the ACA

[ 10 ] July 1, 2012 |

Now that the constitutional questions regarding the ACA have been surprisingly determined, attention is shifting to the political implications that this has for November.  I’ve built a little (emphasis on little) dataset to casually explore this issue.  In the near future I hope to both examine this on a case-by-case basis as well as add a few additional variables that have come to mind, data availability permitting.

The two key variables in the dataset are state level support for the ACA and the percentage uninsured in the state.  My source for the former is from a paper written by Richard Gonzales, a doctoral candidate at Harvard’s Department of Health Care Policy, which was discussed here at The Incidental Economist.  Gonzales estimates state level support from national Gallup data over a six month period (September 2009 to March 2010).  As this is an estimate, it does introduce an additional layer of uncertainty into the model, but it’s the best data I could find.  The point estimates and error bands appear sound in terms of face validity; the highest levels of support are found in New York, Hawaii, and Vermont, with the lowest in Oklahoma and Wyoming.  The public opinion data are old, but Monkey Cage suggests (and we all pretty much agree on) public opinion on the ACA has been relatively stable.  Percentage uninsured by state level is courtesy of Gallup, which are available here.

The first pass at the data is to run a simple bivariate correlation.  Gallup give us uninsured rates for 2008, 09, and 10; for simplicity I take the average of the three.  The mean is 16.2%, the range 4.6% to 26.6%.  The (state level, N=50) mean of support for the ACA is 48%, range 32% to 63%.  Support for the ACA and percentage uninsured are correlated at -.50.  Meaning, as uninsured goes up by state, support for the ACA declines.  The regression estimate is -0.93 (essentially for every one point increase in uninsured, there is a one point decrease in support).

 

This is obviously counter intuitive, and not the full story.  Hence, I’ve added the change in uninsured from 2008 to 2010 (percentage point change, thanks to commenter Fake Irishman for the observation), the PVI of the state (Cook Partisan Voting Index, a measure of how partisan a jurisdiction is and in which direction), and the percentage of the vote received by Obama in the 2008 election.  Shockingly, the latter two enjoy a very close relationship (correlated at .98) as the PVI is in part calculated from the 2008 election results, so in running the multivariate regression models, I ran one with PVI and one with percentage vote for Obama.  Models were estimated with both the average uninsured from 2008-10 as well as each specific year’s data, and it makes no difference.  The first model below includes PVI, the second the percentage vote for Obama in 2008.

The dependent variable is the percentage by state in support of the ACA.  PVI ranges from -20 to +13 with a mean of -2.5 (I’ve normed Republican PVIs as negative not because, well, I’m not a Republican, but rather it’s more intuitive: I’m assuming Republican states are going to be less supportive of the ACA than Democratic states.  It’s sharp insights like this that a Ph.D. in political science equips me to make).  Chg is the percentage point change in uninsured from 2008-10, mean 1.9%, range -2.3% to +4.9%.

Here we can see the original bivariate results have been flipped.  First, you’ll note only one of the three variables is significant.  I make an argument I’ve made countless times before: it doesn’t matter.  I’m dealing with the universe of data in these models, so slavishly bowing to the cult of significance is not relevant, but for those who care the standard errors and t-tests are included.  Percentage of uninsured, and the percent change in uninsured both have positive relationships with support for the ACA.  Put another way, as the percentage of uninsured increases, so too does support for the ACA.  Likewise, as the percentage of people uninsured grows, so does support for the ACA . . . while controlling for the partisanship of the state in question.  The partisan inclination of the state is the single strongest predictor in this model, which is informative.

This model replaces PVI with state level vote for Obama in 2008 (mean 50.52%, range 32.54% to 71.85%).  This model is consistent with the PVI model, so doesn’t require additional discussion.

These are not groundbreaking findings.  With the usual caveats about the ecological fallacy, support for the ACA is mediated through a pre-existing political prism: Democrats are more likely to support it, and Republicans less likely.  The lesson for the Obama administration should be, post Supreme Court ruling, seize the initiative to frame the issue among independents, but simultaneously focus on the base.  Because of the aforementioned case, the administration has been unable to frame the issue, and while running out of time, now is the time.  The second lesson I take away from this is that, as much as Dave Noon and I mocked the ignorant on facebook using this little quiz, outside of independents who think health care is a salient issue (I’m betting that this is a small percentage), the facts of the issue are not going to sway a significant percentage of the electorate.

As we know about the Republicans, this isn’t about the facts or about good public policy.  It’s politics, about winning and losing.  This is how we have the hilarious situation of Mitt Romney running against what is, essentially, his own policy.  Not ironically, Massachusetts anchors the low end of the range on percentage uninsured at 4.6%.  That’s a talking point worth exploiting.

I do want to add a few more variables to this little dataset as well as look closer at the states in question, especially swing states.  But right now,there’s the small matter of Spain v Italy to attend to.

And In Other News . . .

[ 25 ] June 29, 2012 |

The Europeans are still playing a tournament concerning the soccer.  I managed to watch all of Portugal v Spain Wednesday night, while packing.  That it went to penalties was inconvenient as my bus to Heathrow was departing Plymouth at midnight.  I watched chunks of Italy v Germany during my six hour layover at EWR, where I was surprised to see Balotelli’s finishing prowess the exact opposite of what it was against England.

Sunday, I’ll be able to give the final my undivided attention.  I still suspect it will be Spain who prevail, but Spain have demonstrated some frailties during this tournament, whereas Italy have merely been inconsistent.  I think that their victory yesterday owes more to Germany’s failures rather than Italy’s successes.  Further, allowing England to stay in the match for 120 minutes on Sunday should be scandalous to any top tier international side.

In the words of my friend Niall Ó Murchú, this piece this piece (link corrected) in the Guardian about the tactical questions facing the Spanish is “nerdy but brilliant”, and an excellent read.  Even a non-soccer fan watching Italy would spot the influence of Andrea Pirlo, and the need to close him down.  Xavi can do that, but as the article suggests, this comes with a risk.  The greater risk, of course, is giving Pirlo freedom of the pitch, as England did; it was only Italy’s (especially Balotelli’s) horrendous finishing that prevented Italy from crushing England 3-0.

Euro 2012, Entering the Final Round of Group Matches

[ 13 ] June 16, 2012 |

UPDATE: Oops, and oops.  I quite clearly suck.

Again, the convenient overview can be found here.  I’ve been able to watch a lot more of the second round of matches than I had the first, and that has allowed me to mentally adjust, ever so slightly, my original expectations, which is a subtle way to say “what the hell was I thinking?” once or twice.  The tie-breaking criteria, simplified, are: 1. head-to-head, 2. goal differential overall, 3. goals scored.  It gets a bit complicated if three teams are tied on points, which could theoretically happen in three of the four groups (A, B, C).  (Note: I’ve seen it also explained as simple goal differential as the first criterion, so I could be wrong).

The final matches in Group A are tonight (BST).  The table, first number current position, second my prediction, third goal difference, fourth, obviously, points.

1 (1) Russia  (+3) 4

2 (2) Czech (-2) 3

3 (4) Poland (0) 2

4 (3) Greece (-1) 1

Anybody from the group of life could still theoretically advance to the quarter finals.  I can’t see Russia don’t less than collecting all three points against the Greeks, while the Czech Republic v Poland match could be a bit of a wild card given Poland’s effective home field advantage.  I predict at least a draw, so the table should finish as it stands.

Group B

1 (2) Germany (+2) 6

2 (3) Portugal (0) 3

3 (4) Denmark (0) 3

4 (1) Netherlands (-2) 0

Relatively under-rating Germany was my biggest sin for this tournament.  They are an exciting, young side.  I thought that two summers ago, especially given their demolition of England 4-1 with relative ease.  I was seduced more by the Dutch than I was dismissive of the Germans, but after watching the two play the other day, I was ever so slightly wrong.  Germany wants to win the group, so I see them easily beating Denmark.  The Dutch could still theoretically qualify in second; under head-to-head it’s a simple victory over Portugal.  Under goal differential, it’s winning by two clear goals.  While the Dutch are an older side, and should be starting van der Vaart ahead of the 35 year-old van Bommel (and knowing they need a victory, I bet they do tomorrow), and are, as usual, sniping, whining, and Arjen Robben is as selfish as ever, I think they pull out a win over Portugal.

Group C

1 (1) Spain (+4) 4

2 (3) Croatia (+2) 4

3 (2) Italy (0) 2

4 (4) Ireland (-6) 0

Monday has Croatia v Spain, Italy v Ireland.  Spain and Italy win, and my honor is preserved for the second group.  When Spain are on, they’re the most interesting, fluid, and entertaining side to watch.  They couldn’t be anything but on against a limited Irish side.  It was a depressingly lovely match.  The draw against Italy was not because of Catenaccio, but a rather defensively minded 3-5-2.  Croatia are better than I thought, but their four points flatter.  Spain over Croatia, and it goes without saying that even if Italy only score one goal against Ireland, it should be enough.  Spain and Italy through.

Group D

1 (2) France (2) 4

2 (1) England (1) 4

3 (4) Ukraine (-1) 3

4 (3) Sweden (-2) 0

England v Ukraine will be an interesting match on Tuesday.  The English are excited because they only need one point to qualify!  Oh, how the mighty have fallen.  I’ve lived hear nearly nine years, and in the past, especially WC 2002, Euro 2004, WC 2006, the media and fan base always naturally assumed that they would win any major tournament that they entered.  I found it smug and annoying (and inconsistent with the empirical reality that they are, especially from a technical perspective, a second tier side).  Then came the failure to qualify at all for Euro 2008, and the debacle of the 2010 WC (not to mention finishing second to the USA in the group).  What was rarely mentioned, but when mentioned correctly so, in the fall out from last night’s match against Sweden is that if they merely finish second in the group, their quarter final match is likely against Spain.  Tournament over, come home.

Hodgson, regardless of the criticism he’s already receiving after only one competitive match in charge (this is England, after all), is doing a solid job with what he has: one of the least gifted England sides in a generation or two.  England will not play like Spain, Germany, or even Holland in a long, long time.  He’s tactically nimble, a trait not possessed by his three predessors: shifting from his formation used against France to putting Andy Johnson Carroll (yes, I knew that, but I had both my daughter and step daughter nagging me whilst writing this) up front against Sweden obviously paid off (even if that sort of Soccer is precisely what England have been doing for decades: big target man, superb Gerrard cross to the head of said big target man, goal).  When, as usual, England let the opposition back into the match, Hodgson took off the ineffective Milner for Theo Walcott (my man of the match; until Walcott’s arrival it was Ibrahimović), which changed the attack.  (I also question Ashley Young’s contributions, but I’m in the minority here).  I’d bet that Hodgson knows that the chance to top the group is vital, so will go for all three points.  He’ll start Walcott, and of course a well rested Rooney is back.  I predict an England victory over Ukraine, even against the effective home field advantage. England will concede a goal, don’t worry about that, but they score 2. In the other match, I suspect a France victory as well, so it will come down to goal differential to see who wins this group.

 

Political Pretzeling

[ 28 ] June 15, 2012 |

Montana Cowgirl at Daily Kos narrates the political dismemberment of state legislator and quintessential tea bagger Bob Wagner by Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, Genius.  In a nutshell:

So Wagner ended up in the headlines, first proudly decrying government spending, then being revealed as having denied his district important funds, and finally suing the Governor to try to get more government spending for his district.

If only all self described members of the tea party were as politically adroit as the (soon to be) former legislator from Madison County, Montana.

h/t John Emerson

Henry Hill, 1943-2012

[ 20 ] June 14, 2012 |

Enigmatic?  No:

He yearned, he sometimes said, to be other than what he was. “I wish I could be more like normal people — like these people here,” he told The Yakima Herald-Republic of Washington in 2003, indicating passers-by in Leavenworth, Wash., his hometown of the moment. “I don’t know how.”

Which perhaps explains why he was excellent material for an excellent film.  And the punchline:

But Mr. Hill did manage to find time for ordinary pleasures. As he often said, he never missed an episode of “The Sopranos.”

 

Euro 2012 Thus Far, and Other Soccer Musings

[ 11 ] June 12, 2012 |

A convenient overview of the state of play of the European Championships can be found here.  My typically ill-conceived predictions can be found here.

I watched three of the matches, and listened to a further two on BBC Radio 5.  The results from the first set of matches don’t make my predictions terribly embarrassing, only marginally so.  Two matches stand out: Russia 4-1 Czech Republic, and the Netherlands 0-1 Denmark.  The latter is egregious in that I predicted the Dutch to win the group and Denmark to finish last.  The Dutch did out play the Danes on almost every metric, aside from the small matter of goals scored.  That said, qualification suddenly looks in doubt: They’ll need to pick up four, and likely all six, points from their matches against Germany and Portugal.  Four is possible: three second place finishers qualified out of the groups in the past two Euros with four points.  Italy in 2008 (finishing second to the Dutch on nine points), both the Dutch and Greeks in 2004.  However, given the dynamics of the group, it’s a long shot.  I could be wrong, but they’d need to beat Germany and draw Portugal, hope the Danes run the table, and even then there would be a tie breaker involved (I very well might be missing something).  Easier just to win out.

The former, while I predicted Russia top and the Czechs second, losing 4-1 doesn’t seem to be what a group runner up should be all about.  That and I wish Arshivin looked that good while wearing an Arsenal shirt.

The other two groups didn’t have any stunning surprises.  Perhaps one could argue that Spain should have beat Italy, and it is possible that Spain’s time is over.  Croatia hammering the Republic, sadly, was not a surprise.  Ukraine pipping Sweden last night maybe, but I essentially have those level on chances.  England were unfamiliar to me: they were . . . organised.  Against a France side that I obviously underrated.

Today we have two more matches in the scintillating Group A, which are of interest to me only for the political overtones attached to Poland v Russia.

In other news, the embarrassing circus that is Rangers F.C. took a bad turn today: they’re dead certain to be liquidated now.  Given the news that HM Revenue and Customs will not vote for a Company Voluntary Agreement, liquidation is unavoidable; the only path back is through the formation of a new company that itself purchases key assets from liquidation.  I don’t see how a new company running the club will be justified its spot in the top tier of Scottish football (or, for that matter, even a position anywhere in the top four professional leagues.)  Chick Young indirectly predicted this over a month ago on the BBC.  As a Celtic supporter, it might strike readers as unlikely (and is definitely not an opinion universally shared amongst my fellow Celtic minded fans) but losing Rangers, even for a few years in the lower divisions, would not be good for Celtic.

Nor the whole of the SPL.  The problem faced by the other 11 SPL sides who are to vote on admitting a “new Rangers” is outlined here.  While it’s in the interests of the companies running the teams to admit Rangers, there is considerable disagreement among the fan support of all 11 sides:

In recent weeks clubs have expressed the dilemma they face: Rangers’ presence in the SPL brings revenue through the turnstiles and from broadcast deals, but many fans have said they will not return if “sporting integrity” is not seen to be upheld.

These supporters have been in contact with their clubs to demand that they vote against Rangers playing in the SPL next season. Their preference is for Rangers to apply to join the Scottish Football League and to start again in the Third Division.

That won’t happen.  The clubs will vote to re-admit (admit?) the new Rangers, and assume the fans will return.

And there’s the small matter of the USMNT away to Guatemala in the third round of the interminable CONCACAF qualifying system for the 2014 World Cup.  This is the most difficult match for the USA in the third round, and based on the sedate performance against Antigua & Barbuda the other day, optimism doesn’t prevail.

The Roberts Court and Free Speech Cases

[ 12 ] January 7, 2012 |

The NYT has a nuanced article that discusses a new study released by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU.  Basically, contra conventional wisdom, the Roberts Court finds in favor of free speech at a lower rate than the three previous Courts.  The Roberts Court has ruled in favor of speech 34.5%, whereas the rate for the Rehnquist Court was 49%, Burger 46%, and shockingly the Warren Court was 69%.  While the NYT had the study reviewed by a couple political scientists who work in the field (Epstein and Segal) who determined that the difference between Roberts and the three previous courts in aggregate was statistically significant, yet the differences between Roberts and the two previous courts is not, I don’t find statistical significance a particularly useful tool considering the data involved.

What’s of greater interest is percentage of “free speech” cases that were actually about campaign finance (which I initially wondered about when reading the article).  Here’s the money shot:

A majority of the Roberts court’s pro-free-speech decisions — 6 of 10 — involved campaign finance laws.

“What really animates” the Roberts court, Erwin Chemerinsky wrote recently in The Arizona Law Review, “is a hostility to campaign finance laws much more than a commitment to expanding speech.”

No shit.  More Chemerinsky:

The court, he wrote, has a “dismal record of protecting free speech in cases involving challenges to the institutional authority of the government when it is regulating the speech of its employees, its students and its prisoners, and when it is claiming national security justifications.”

For the geeks among us, the article dips its toe into the pool of epistemology:

David L. Hudson Jr., a scholar at the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, said the studies lacked nuance by, for instance, treating every decision as equally important. His criticism illuminated a gap between the two disciplines used to assess the Supreme Court: political science codes and counts, while law weighs and analyzes.

Which reminds me, I’ll have a couple stacks of essays on epistemological issues to grade when I return to England early next week.  Splendid.

Krugman on Jobs

[ 22 ] January 6, 2012 |

 

Romney has critiqued Obama for being ‘”a “job killer” who is “in over his head”’; and one quote (which I can not source at the moment) has him claiming to have created more jobs as Governor of Mass. than Obama has done for the country.

It turns out, according to Paul Krugman, that this is bullshit.  The figures are illustrative enough to be reproduced here.  While they’re somewhat self explanatory, I’m going to bore you with some explanation.  The first two measure total employment.  The one on the left covers 2007 – 2012, the right 1999-2004.

The best figure to illustrate these data is that which has been released by the Obama campaign itself.  The reason I prefer the data to be illustrated in this manner is that it makes two features blunt: the difference between job losses as opposed to job gains, and the arc of the trend.  From a campaign perspective, this figure makes for a better narrative: Obama took over in the midst of a bad economic downturn, and while he didn’t turn it around during his first 100 hours in office, things did begin to improve in that the rate of decline was arrested.

And neither include today’s report that 200K jobs were created in December.

 

 

How Outperforming Expectations (in Iowa) Empirically Matters

[ 28 ] January 5, 2012 |

A lot of you might have seen this already, but John Sides (of GWU and the Monkey Cage) has a nice piece at 538 that combines data from both Silver and a book by Redlawsk, Tolbert, and Donovan (which Sides blogs a bit about here) to demonstrate how outperforming expectations in Iowa (e.g. a certain former U.S. Senator who lost re-election by 58.6% to 41.3% in 2006) has a measurable knock-on effect in New Hampshire.  This, in turn, has consequences for future primaries and caucuses.  My only critique of the piece is that the relationship illustrated by the figure, which Sides characterizes as “substantively (and statistically) significant” does appear substantively weak to me.  While this doesn’t go beyond empirically supporting common knowledge:

The conventional wisdom is this: candidates who overperform then receive increased attention from the news media — presumably because they have exceeded the news media’s expectations, which we can approximate with the pre-caucus polls. This is exactly what the graph shows. For every three-point increase in Iowa caucus performance relative to polls, candidates can expect to gain an additional two percentage points of media attention.

it’s import lies in that it does empirically support common knowledge, and we are now in a position to point towards something real when discussing how Iowa’s result will boost the chances of the aforementioned ex-Senator.  To wit:

Why does this matter? Mr. Redlawsk and his colleagues demonstrate that not only do candidates who do relatively well in Iowa do better in New Hampshire . . . but this shift in media attention may play the causal role. The media’s attention matters too, and their attention depends on how candidates perform versus expectations. Mr. Redlawsk and his colleagues then show that the results in New Hampshire shape the candidates’ overall share of votes in the primaries as a whole. So Iowa affects New Hampshire, and New Hampshire affects everything else . . .

Given this, we should see Santorum mounting the latest — and most credible — anti-Romney candidacy for the nomination (as possibly evidenced by the two polls that came out yesterday showing a surge in Santorum’s support).  New Hampshire can even play as a strength for Santorum, as everybody knows Romney will win it overwhelmingly; Romney’s victory will be discounted, and if Santorum can finish second, no easy feat for a rabid conservative in New Hampshire, expect the effect demonstrated by Sides above to further strengthen Santorum’s hand going into SC and FL.

While I don’t think Santorum will parlay this well timed momentum into the nomination, it could at least make things more interesting.

In Case You Were Wondering About Rick Santorum’s Position on the NHS . . .

[ 31 ] January 4, 2012 |

it turns out he’s somewhat opposed, if we can interpret “social programs led to the collapse of the British Empire” and “the British National Healthcare system is a devastating program that makes it dependent” as opposition.  A couple summers ago I wrote a post here about the NHS, including notes comparing the per-capita GDP spent on health care (hint: it’s higher in the US), comparing outcome metrics (hint: better in the UK), and my own personal experience with the Health Service.  All of which, charitably, is somewhat in disagreement with Santorum’s observations.

I love it when desperate politicians make shit up.  Especially the line about how Thatcher lamented that the Health Service proved to be the reason that she “was never able to do what Reagan did to this country”.

Speaking of making shit up, I’m live on BBC radio within the hour.  I wonder what they want?

In Praise of Cheap Hooch

[ 55 ] January 2, 2012 |

Slate has a solid article on “why you should be drinking cheap wine”.  While I know my way around a bottle a bit better than the average person, I strongly support the core thesis of said article.  This dates back from my previous life as a brewer / beer judge / beer writer when I argued that the price/quality relationship in wine doesn’t even try to approximate a linear function.  The same is true of single malts for that matter; back when I built and maintained a collection (which is sadly down to a single unopened bottle of 1974 Ardbeg), I only broke $100 on a bottle once, and that was for a 1973 Longrow.  Yes, there’s really bad, dumpable wine available under $6 a bottle.  But there are also plenty of terrific wines down there as well.  The wine we served at our wedding, an Italian Pinot Grigio, is available at our local Trader Joes for five bucks, and it earned plaudits from those in attendance with superior knowledge and palates.

There are a couple statements in this article that I find contentious however.  To wit: “Granted, few Americans actually drink that much wine—annual consumption is around one bottle per month per capita . . .”  Seriously?  One bottle per month?  I guess my intake, even when limited to the several months I spend in the US per year, makes up for the lack of consumption of entire states.  Second:

In Europe, consumption is 3-to-6 times higher than in the United States. But only the most affluent would spend 11 euros to drink a bottle of wine at home on a Wednesday night. Europeans seem perfectly comfortable cracking open a 1-euro tetra-pak of wine for guests. Germans, for example, pay just $1.79 on average.

Yet further evidence that the United Kingdom is not part of Europe.  Wine is vastly more affordable here in Oregon than England; the same was true when I lived in the Netherlands, where it was fairly easy to find solid value, unlike in the UK.  The best value I can find in Plymouth is a £3.15 bottle of Australian red (and white, I forget the varietals at the moment) sold by my local Tesco Metro (which has turned into the house wine at the Brockington Manor).  Prior to the opening of this Tesco last summer, the best value was whatever was on offer at the local Co-op, usually at £5.

That said, I instinctively go for value when drinking wine.  It’s easy, even on that outrageously expensive island where I spend the majority of my time, to find a solid wine at an affordable price.

h/t to my friend Karen Semyan.

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