Friday, March 13, 2009

Honest Pint in 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.

1 comment:

Erik Huntoon said...

I am a huge fan of the idea of requiring an establishment to clearly note the volume of the beverage you are purchasing and then having glassware that marks that volume. Not only does England do it as you mentioned, but pretty much everywhere I have ever drank a beer in Europe. It's a fraud how we get treated as consumers in America.. in my opinion. :-)