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Friday, April 16, 2010

OLCC's New Happy Hour Rules: Solomonic Stupidity

Laura Gunderson has an interesting piece in today's Oregonian (the print version only, of course--the O is in usual form about getting its content online) about a change to the OLCC's law prohibiting pubs from advertising happy hours:
"The commission will allow outdoor signs or web sites to advertise the time a deal is in place or the cost of drinks--not both. No matter how good it may sound, working such as '$4 ladies-night margaritas on Thursdays' won't fly."
This is like how one lie leads you into a thicket of convoluted, conflicting lies. In the OLCC's case, it's not lies, but stupid rationales. The commission has always been characterized by a strongly Puritan streak and one assumption seems to govern all decisions: the evil drink will corrupt men's souls, and we must do our part to make sure the twain meet only after navigating our Kafkaesque bureaucracy. We will tie up pubs with red tape.

Advertising for happy hours is bad, obviously, because it will, you know, encourage people to go to bars. But since the OLCC can't dictate what price bars sell a pint of beer for, the best they could do was prohibit them from advertising cheap pours. Now they say: well, you can advertise prices or times of discounts--but not both together. How on earth did they come to this divide-the-baby solution? Gunderson quotes an OLCC spokeswoman saying that it will "ensure against price wars." Good god. (I await the Beeronomist's take on that bit of wisdom.)

And how does this stop sites from listing this same information? It doesn't. Barfly does a great job cataloging this info, and others like Urban Drinks offer versions as well. So the info can appear on a website, just not a website operated by the pub offering the happy hour. A rule that makes sense only to the OLCC.


  1. And I thought we had some ridiculous liquor laws here in WA. This is just - wow.

  2. The OLCC is draconian and should be disbanded. We shouldn't be wasting tax dollars on an organization that tells adults when/where/what they can drink. California does just fine selling liquor in supermarkets. I'm sure they can fully advertise happy hours as well.

    Down with the OLCC.

  3. It is very stupid, but there's an easy way around it: only put the price: "$2 beers at Happy Hour". Everyone knows when happy hour is, no need to put the time.

  4. Bill, it is easy to get around, which is the whole point--this is an idiotic parsing of a rule that can't possibly have the effect the OLCC wishes (even accounting for the confused sense of what the outcome should actually be).

    As I've said many times, I'm one of the socialists Sarah Palin warns about. But we could really find some common ground over the idea that axing the OLCC would be a great way to shrink government.

  5. 'ensure against price wars' spawned a guffaw.

  6. Head is bruised and keyboard ruined from banging head repeatedly after reading about this stupidity.
    Who ARE these people??

  7. Seem The State of Oregon needs a clear thinking politician of the ilk of Senator Alan MacGregor Cranston. RIP.

  8. That is completely ridiculous. Why do we pay for the OLCC again with our hard earned tax dollars. They could be using that money to pay teachers and help kids, but instead they throw it away on stupid bullshit that no one even cares about. Who cares if a bar shows an ad for happy hour pour prices? I think I'll voice my concerns to the local government, as well.

  9. @ Kim:

    We don't pay the OLCC anything from our "tax dollars" unless you include the taxes they take in directly through alcohol sales. In fact, they are the only government agency in Oregon (other than the lottery) that makes a profit.

    They make so much money off of booze sales that during the last biennium (07-09) they disbursed over $340 million dollars to the general fund, mental health and addiction services, and various other groups.