Several papers have reported that Richard Thaler, a professor from Chicago and an adviser to the PM, has suggested that groups of more than three shouldn't buy rounds and should instead have a tab with everyone paying their share at the end of the evening. He argues that this will reduce binge drinking. Prof Thaler clearly hasn't got the faintest idea what he is talking about, and I do wonder how much such nonsense costs us taxpayers. Here are some problems I see straight away (in no particular order):
- Many pubs do not operate a system of tabs. Some simply don't have the necessary equipment, but another reason is the worry that a large group will leave without paying their bar bill. Unfortunately, this fear is not without some foundation.
- It is not possible to run a tab on a pub crawl.
- Disputes would arise about fair shares. Anyone who's been for a meal and witnessed disputes along the lines of, "I didn't have a starter" or, "You had the most expensive meal on the menu but I had the cheapest", and so on, will see the same thing happening: "You were on double Scotches while I only had halves".
- How do you work out the share of those who join part way through the evening?
- How do people who leave before the end of the evening (e.g. to catch their last bus) pay?
- People may be anxious about their share of a mounting bill over which they have no control.