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Policy Brief on Alcohol

Essay by   •  February 23, 2016  •  Article Review  •  1,034 Words (5 Pages)  •  913 Views

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When the St. Patrick’s weekend hits Chicago, effective measures concerned by the Mayor to control the alcohol consumption so as to ensure the social order are necessary as the amount of alcohol intake is believed to adversely affect the order of the public. In this policy brief, I will first justify the effectiveness of the ‘half-strength’ beer policy suggested by the Mayor and then propose a feasible alternative which involves the control of individual consumption of alcoholic drinks by cups.

The rationale of regulating the beer during the weekend by ‘half-strength’ is that the lower ethanol contained makes people less easily to get drunk and lose their awareness of behavior. But to analyze further, we need to make assumptions about the price of those beer. If the price of ‘half-strength’ beer sold by the bars and restaurants are as expensive as the ‘full-strength’ ones, then the policy tends to be effective. The reason is that consumers would spend a certain proportion of their budget on holiday beer. Keeping the expenditure constant, quantity consumed is the same but the beer is lighter so they will be more sober after drinking. However, if the price of ‘half-strength’ beer is half or less of the usual beer, then by the same logic, people can afford to double their consumption and they would be no more sober than before.

Next, we need to examine the effect of welfare change differentiated by moderate drinkers and heavy drinkers. Heavy drinkers are the group of people that is meant to be targeted and their behavior would be temporarily controlled with the pricy enough ‘half-strength’ beer (discussed in the previous paragraph). As long as they are successfully controlled, social order would be ensured and the welfare from the public stability would arise. However for the moderate drinkers, on one hand, by only offering the ‘half-strength’ beer, they are deprived as they lose the choice of the original flavor; on the other hand, they are benefited from a safer and more peaceful holiday environment in which now they can enjoy themselves more. Overall, as long as the policy would successfully regulate the heavy drinkers and the benefit gained for moderate drinkers overweigh their utility loss the net social welfare would increase.

One caveat need to be considered when applying this policy is the availability of other alcohol especially spirits. If regulations are not imposed on spirits during the holiday weekend then heavy beer drinkers may substitute vodka, for example, for the light beer. In this sense, the ‘half-strength’ beer should be regulated in line with other possible substitutes to reach its maximum efficacy.

Finally, there is a possibility that craziness would take place one weekend after the St. Patrick’s week. If people postpone their celebration or take another party unanimously agreed upon to the days without alcohol control, the social order will be even harder to manage because government may not have the awareness and preparation for this.



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