Thursday, February 19, 2009

Update on Happy Hour

Only a couple of days after the original WCCO report there was a Facebook group called "Dear Minneapolis City Council, there is no need for you to ban Happy Hour." As of this writing that group has 2,180 members, one of which is Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. This was posted by Mayor Rybak yesterday on Facebook:

"Just to be clear, I don't know of anyone around City Hall who is even thinking about this. It was a suggestion from a citizen committee but I don't think it has much support. I certainly don't think that's where we should be spending our time. Now people can stop emailing and Facebooking me about it...and I'll get back to the budget where our focus belongs."

That pretty much puts a nail in it as there are other sources within City Hall who echo the Mayors sentiment.


Or not.

Since we're talking about posts on Facebook perhaps I should share a comment posted to my wall:

"Tony, I disagree with your stance in the Happy Hour ban. If it takes effect bars will need to start offering everyday low prices! Not just for an hour or two. Take a second to think this over."

I did. This was my response:

"While you make a good point I don't know that it's entirely accurate. Yes there would be downward pressure on prices in general, but the reason for happy hour in the first place is to create business during non-peak times. Happy hour is, in essence, a supply and demand pricing scheme. When demand is high, so are prices and when demand is low the prices are too. Without this ability to alter prices to bring in business many bars would suffer and eventually close down, thus reducing the supply of bars and increasing the demand for their services thereby causing prices to increase in turn."


This is an example of why the internet is an amazing thing that we probably take too much for granted. Go internets!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The happiest hour of the day no longer?

The Minneapolis City council is considering a ban on drink specials, including happy hour, in an effort to reduce binge drinking. Also being considered is a limit of one drink per person at a time and a ban on drinking games.

I went looking for information on the City Council's web site and came across a link to a site advertising the best happy hours in the city; it says "Minneapolis Happy Hours". Sort of ironic and it gets to the heart of the problem, everyone likes happy hour. The bar owners need it, the bar patrons love it, about the only people who are against it are public health experts, but I've got to suspect that even some of them enjoy a happy hour from time to time. There is a reason it's called happy hour after all. Cheap booze makes people happy.

This comes after the University of Minnesota decided that only the rich people can drink at their new football stadium and the Minnesota legislature decided that only out of town Republicans are responsible enough to stay out till 4 am drinking. The utter contempt for people of modest means just oozes out of all these proposals, the idea that poor people should have different rules than rich people.

The problem with this kind of solution is that it's a half measure; it is really only an impediment to poor students. Students who are financially better off will still be able to drink themselves silly and a rise in the number of house parties, which is a worse environment than the bar for binge drinking, would likely follow. It seems to me that if the real issue is binge drinking among college students and you're going to target bars there is a much simpler solution, ban the sale of alcohol on campus, including at the new football stadium.

Leave the rest of us our happy hour, we deserve it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What is Norm Coleman's ultimate goal?

Every new day of the Senate election contest brings a new theory about what Norm Coleman's intentions really are. Is he just stalling to withhold the Democrats 59th seat? Does he want another election? Is the whole thing a PR move by the GOP to create a new galvanizing figure for fundraising? Does Norm even care? All of these theories have one thing in common, they're theories. All of the objective evidence suggests that Norm Coleman is waging this election contest because he desperately wants to keep his Senate seat and this is the only way he can do that.

A lot of people have been reading ulterior motives into the Coleman legal teams bungling of this case; as if the last eight years of Republican incompetence is not enough to convince people that maybe they're bungling the case because they're simply incompetent. When the inevitability of a recount became apparent the Franken campaign brought in some of the best legal minds in the country. The Coleman team tried to do it on the cheap by using some local guys. Their paying for that mistake now of course, but I'm sure at the time it was seen as a cost saving measure, they were going to win after all, why waste money on the recount.

There is some aspect of all these theories that may be true, but none of them on their own explains why Norm Coleman would sacrifice his future political career, he would only do that for Norm Coleman. All of these other motivations; Republicans wanting to keep Franken unseated as long as possible, the NRSC wanting to create the next direct mailing poster boy, Norm's day job, they all contribute to the higher purpose of Norm Coleman keeping his Senate seat.

I don't think Norm is throwing the election contest, I think his lawyers have been incompetent. I don't think the election contest is being driven by John Cornyn, but Norn will certainly take his contributions. I don't think the whole point of the election contest is to delay seating Al Franken, that's just one of the upsides for the GOP.

In any of these types of analysis it's important to keep in mind the principle of Occam's razor, which basically means don't assume things. Norm Coleman is in court, fighting the outcome of the election because Norm Coleman wants to be a United States Senator because without that he doesn't really have much.