Sunday, January 17, 2010

Breaking the law (of unintended consequences)

I popped into the SIBA North meeting in Southport the other day. On my way from Manchester to Liverpool (no, the Sat-Nav is fine, thank you). All very interesting as usual.

The subject of SIBAs position on the tie came up. Again. The old topic of the beer orders and the "Law of Unintended Consequences" (LoUC from now on) was made much of. You know, how we ended up with the pubcos and that.

It's a pet peeve of mine. The LoUC isn't an actual law. It's not like the Law of Gravity. All it says is that things you weren't expecting (and didn't want) will happen. It's what you call a truism, and is often used to excuse inaction on the grounds that if you do anything - something bad will happen. This is demonstrably nutso, since we don't need to do anything for bad things to happen. They'll happen even if you just sit there. This is the "Shit Happens" theory (the SHT).

For instance, it's not even certain that the pub industry wouldn't have evolved into what we see nowadays (pubcos in trouble), or something worse, without the beer orders. Unfortunately there's no control reality where we don't have the beer orders, but all else is the same, where we can examine an alternative history.

In the absence of access to the alternative reality, everything held to be due to LoUC can be adequately explained by SHT, making LoUC useless as a guide to action.


Tandleman said...

Umm. Yes.

StringersBeer said...

Glad you agree.

Cooking Lager said...

Eye but when this reform achieves f* all and the pub industry continues to decline due to basic lack of customer demand it allows us skeptics to say "told you so"

How changing the pub market from variable to fixed rent will create the sunny uplands of pub utopia is lost on me.

Still, it appears to have made the beards happy for a while so there is at least that. Not as happy as Carling ceasing production, but happy nonetheless.

StringersBeer said...

Nice to see an old thread come up to date.
It's not just a question of fixed v. variable rents, cookie. Those variable "rents" aren't subject to any kind of independent review OR genuine market pressures. But if the tied deal is a valuable parnership for all involved then they'll survive just fine. If it's a mechanism for extracting an inequitable share of profit, well, they won't.

I'm certain some pubs will close on the back of it. That doesn't mean others (or the same ones under different arrangements) won't open (or stay open).

I thought you'd love it. Exposing these arrangements to the sunlight of the market, and that.