Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Friday, January 09, 2009
These types of policies have been around for a number of years. The cost is truly de minimis relative to insurance for adults (as you would expect) and the pitch is that it is for the child in the event that the child would develop a medical or other condition that would make them uninsurable (or would make the cost of insurance excessive). For this de minimis price, you can be certain they will have access to this insurance policy. There are some risk advserse people for whom this would have appeal. For me personally, I look at the exorbinant rates I get charged for insurance compared to LeAnn since I am type I diabetic (about 10x the price for term and even a higher % for permanent insurance) and there is some appeal to the notion that if my child develops type I diabetes or some other condition that they would have a policy that would not be based on those inflated rates. (Inflated because they lump lower life expectancy type II and normal life exp type I's together).
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
I am a resident of the Salemtown neighborhood, an economist, and a concerned citizen. I am writing to oppose Ordinance No. BL2009-369, which would prohibit the sale of single cans or bottles of beer for consumption off-premises in specific parts of
This bill also prohibits sale from an ice tub, although the reasons for this are unclear to me. If beer is kept cold, and the seller is licensed, why does it matter whether the beer is in a refrigerator or an ice tub? Perhaps this is related to a public health concern, although it’s not clear to me why standard tort law could not deal with problems here if any should arise. In any case, my concern is with the ban on sales of single beers.
The purposes of this ban, as I understand them, are two:
1) To reduce public drinking of beverages in certain areas.
2) To reduce littering.
I do not think this bill will achieve either objective. In fact, it could have the opposite effect in both cases.
Regarding the first argument: It is said that there are too many people drinking on street corners, sometimes in view of children. I do not see how this bill will stop this. Instead of buying a single beer at a time, people who want to drink will simply buy a six-pack, and drink them one at a time. Perhaps the concern is for the easy temptation of a single beer—but a person with a serious drinking problem is ill, not stupid. If they must buy six beers at once rather than one at a time, then they will buy six beers at once. In fact, groups of people often gather to drink and talk (outside the market at the intersection of 7th Ave N. and
Garfield St., for example). This makes it even easier to circumvent the single-beer restriction. Six people need merely contribute enough money to buy a six pack, have one of them go in to buy it, and bring it out. Now they each have a beer.
It is true that there is increased inconvenience to obtaining a single beer, and that this may reduce usage. On a per-beer basis, however, a six-pack is usually cheaper than an individual beer. It is not clear what the net effect of this could be. People could end up consuming more beer, because the beers are cheaper per bottle or can. In other words, it is possible that this bill would increase drinking, rather than decrease it. Regardless of the direction of the effect, I see little reason to expect a large reduction in drinking.
It has been suggested that single beers are often dropped in the street, leaving broken glass and trash lying around. In light of the argument I have just provided, I do not see any reason for this to change. In fact, the amount of litter could increase, because six-packs come in cardboard packaging. Now we will have that lying around, in addition to the bottles. This is not an improvement.
To summarize, it does not seem likely to me that this bill will do anything other than provide a minor inconvenience to some people. I do not think it will achieve its desired ends, and it could actually make matters worse.
If you are not swayed, however, by these potential consequences, then let me make three other arguments. First, I do not think it is any of your business, or my business, or anyone else’s business, whether people buy six-packs, four-packs, or single beers. This is not a proper role for government. Surely there are more important problems to address. I understand that this is not a popular viewpoint, but it should be expressed. I don’t even drink alcohol (especially beer), but I do not want to infringe on the rights of adults to buy beer in a quantity of their choosing.
Second, suppose that this bill does nothing at all (that is, suppose I am wrong, in that it does not make matters worse, and its proponents are wrong, in that it does not improve anything). Or, for that matter, suppose that I am correct and this bill makes matters worse. How will you know? Where is the provision in the statute to measure its effect? Who will be keeping track of the change in litter? Laws that do nothing, and laws with bad effects, should be repealed This law will likely stay on the books, adding to a labyrinth of regulation, whether it works or not. If you really must pass this ordinance, let me suggest a simple change: Include a sunset provision. Set the law to expire one year from now, unless you vote to extend it. At least that way there will be a point at which the community can assess whether or not it has made any difference. I think this request is reasonable.
Finally, I find the geographic restrictions included in this bill strange. I understand that they are included because this bill is supported by some people within the specific geographic area. Nonetheless, banning single beer sales is a good idea, why is it a good idea only in these locations? Why is it not a good idea everywhere? I suppose this is not so much an objection as a cause of confusion on my part. I do not understand why single beer sales are acceptable everywhere else but not in these places.
Thank you for your time and consideration.