Friday, March 13, 2009

Beeronomics: The Honest Pint Project Goes to Salem

Beervana blogger Jeff Alworth's Honest Pint Project is gaining some serious traction. A new bill has been proposed that would require inspections of pubs and would certify their compliance with a true 16oz pint rule with a official decal (I imagine one like the state health 'complied' and 'exceeded' stickers for restaurants).

Though as an economist I support the Honest Pint Project, I do not support this legislation. I think it is costly, requiring inspections; I think it is not entirely effective, there are plenty of opportunities for cheater pints; and I think there is a better solution.

My solution has always been to do what the Brits do: require marked glassware like in the picture. Glassware suppliers can certify the volume and etch it on the glass itself. It is a lot easier to monitor a few glassware suppliers than hundreds of pubs and restaurants and etching adds very little to the extra cost of glassware (and can be phased in to save a big one-time cost to pubs and restaurants). Besides, having an Oregon state seal on a glass certifying its volume would be cool!

The reason I support this remedy is because it addresses the essential market failure: asymmetric information - drinkers do not know the volume of the glasses their beer is served in. Once full information is restored, the market will do the rest.


Jacob Grier said...

The bill would not require inspection, it would just make it a voluntary option needed to display the decal -- exactly the same kind of certification program that could have arisen privately if anyone really cared. Bars are also still be free to buy marked glassware if they believe customers are concerned about it (I doubt that many are).

Jeff Alworth said...

Okay, that logo kicks ass. The beaver pint--genius!

dw3 said...

agreed, LOVE the logo.