Friday, October 16, 2009

Happy Times for Happy Hours

The OLCC is taking the first steps to remove the ban on advertising happy hours. In economics, information is as close to a universal good as there is and is essential for efficient market outcomes. Thus regulating information is bad and leads to inefficient outcomes and we are all better off. In this case the externality of the public safety and health risk of binge drinking was considered to be worth the efficiency hit, but it strikes me as wrong to think that the ads would make much of a marginal difference while the happy hour prices themselves were unregulated. I don't know the causal link between happy hours binge drinking and the size of the related social cost, but if that is a real problem, regulating ads seems to be the wrong approach.

This is a good move.

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