The competing “President of Beers” ad campaigns are vaguely amusing, but fortunately we don’t actually choose beer in a national election. Often, votes in a political election are compared with dollars spent in a market, but in reality elections and markets are two fundamentally different ways of selecting something. For instance, here is a beer ballot from Palm Beach County, Florida:
and here is a genuine market for beers in Fairfield, Ohio:
courtesy of my favorite grocery store, Jungle Jim’s. See the resemblance? I hope not, because there really is no comparison. Other than the size of the selection, how would political selection of beers differ from buying beers in a nominally free market?
Beer selection via
Whichever beer won would be the only beer available for the next four years.
You would have to pay for the elected beer whether you liked it or not, or even if you didn’t drink beer.
Even if you had no strong preference for Bud or Miller, you would be admonished to vote, as that would somehow, magically, improve the quality of the choice.
If you did have a strong preference, some elementary math would tell you that voting for it would have essentially no chance of influencing the outcome.
People would get in loud confrontational arguments on the merits of Bud vs. Miller. Even sober people.
If you started talking about microbrews or imports, people would consider you a bit nutty.
The Complete Joy of Homebrewing would be a book owned only by wacky anarchists.
In order to appeal to the least common denominator, Miller and Budweiser would eventually come to have nearly identical, weak, flavors. Oh, wait.
Despite this, people who had never tried other beers would insist that the two are quite different
What a nightmare world. Fortunately, despite its being heavily taxed, regulated, and licensed, the market for beer is still nominally free. Some key features of a beer market are:
Beer selection via a market
You can choose any beer available, buy it, and drink it, no matter how few other people like it.
No one else will expect to be forced to try your favorite beer, so they will take nearly no interest in your preference.
You can make your own beer at home, or start a microbrewery, if nothing on the market is to your taste. In fact, I highly recommend homebrewing for the tax avoidance alone.
You can choose not to drink any beer at all. I don’t recommend it, but I’ve heard of people doing it.
Without a healthy market, this blogger’s beer fridge (right) might not be properly stocked. That would be an immense shame, and I wouldn’t even be left with the small comfort of crying about it into a proper beer. The next time you’re spending some quality time carefully selecting a few bottles of the magical brew to welcome into your home, remember: beer, unlike national defense, police, airline safety, and road construction, is just too important to leave up to the vagaries of the political process.