Today is also the 48th birthday of Lester Jones. Lester was for a number of years the economist for the Beer Institute, the man who crunched all the numbers, including the great resource Beer Serves America, but last year he moved over to do the same job for the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA). As a big fan of the dismal science, I’ve gotten to know Lester over the last several years and appreciate all that he does to help promote beer. He’s one of the good guys. Join me in wishing Lester a very happy birthday.
As I’ve written time and time again, lying with statistics may not be the oldest profession, but it’s got to be pretty close. Alright, I may be exaggerating slightly. Modern propaganda and the P.R. machine got going around the time of the First World War, with many of the profession’s leading lights coming out of that time period — Edward Bernays, Walter Lippmann, Ivy Lee. But it’s a powerful tool of the propagandist today, especially the numerous prohibitionist groups and anti-alcohol organizations. So when I saw Think you drink a lot? This chart will tell you last month on the Washington Post’s Wonkblog, I noted it with suspicion and made a note to look at it closer when I had the time. What got my spidey senses tingling was the idea that “the top 10 percent of drinkers account for well over half of the alcohol consumed in any given year.” Here’s the chart the article ran, showing the data for that conclusion.
Although it shows the common Pareto Principle, it just didn’t ring true. That many people can’t, and don’t, drink that heavily. I knew there had to be another explanation for this data. And there is. Trevor Butterworth, writing for Forbes, did the heavy lifting on this one with his wonderful expose, When Data Journalism Goes Wrong. It turns out that when you drill down the data, looking at its source and analysis, things begin to unravel. Apparently the results of the original poll had the data manipulated by nearly doubling them to account for a perceived problem with under-reporting. To put that another way, the data was “fixed.” One of the problems with that (there are many, many, I’d say) is that people looking for data to support an agenda tend to seize on such manipulated data and pass it on, using it in their propaganda, and the mainstream media tends to fall for it uncritically, rarely looking at where the original information came from or how it was gathered. Happily, Butterworth does a good job of demonstrating where it all went wrong, and I urger you to read his entire When Data Journalism Goes Wrong. And a h/t to Maureen Ogle for sending me this. She knows me all too well.
Happy Labor Day everybody. I thought this was a good day to highlight a press release from the Beer Institute about “how one job inside a brewery supports another 45 jobs outside. From farmers to factory workers, and truck drivers to tavern owners, beer puts people to work.” It’s not just that breweries employ a lot of people — they do — but many more job are created beyond the brewery that might not exist were it not for the beer. As their research shows, for every job inside a brewery, there are 45 related jobs outside the brewery.
From the press release:
“Today we toast to the industry’s 2 million men and women who make it possible for Americans to enjoy their favorite beer,” said Jim McGreevy, Beer Institute President and CEO. “America’s preference for beer is a huge boon to the national economy and the American worker.”
According to an economic study jointly commissioned by the Beer Institute and the National Beer Wholesalers Association in 2012, U.S. brewers and beer importers are the foundation for an industry that employs more than 2 million Americans, directly and indirectly. Beer also contributed $246.6 billion to America’s economy and generated $49 billion in local, state and federal taxes.
A Beer Institute analysis showed that each job in a brewery supports other jobs in the agriculture, business and personal services, construction, finance insurance and real estate, manufacturing, retail, transportation and communication, travel and entertainment and wholesale sectors.
They also broke down the number of jobs flowing from beer for each state. Not surprisingly, California was number one, with 241,640 contributing over $34 billion into the economy. After California, Texas, Florida, New York and Illinois have the most beer-related jobs, but even in the smallest states, thousands of people are gainfully employed thanks to beer. The total number of jobs nationwide is just over 2 million with a total economic impact of almost $247 billion. To see it broken down even farther, including by state and Congressional district, check out Beer Serves America.
Happy Labor Day, the only this missing from this picture? Where are the brewers?
I just stumbled on this fun little video comparing biodiversity in the world of nature to the beer industry. It was created by Minute Earth, a YouTube channel showing primarily science videos about our planet. I wonder what inspired them to create Dude beer?
Today’s infographic is an interesting treemap created by the Observatory of Economic Complexity, a collaboration between M.I.T. and Harvard. This one, contrasting yesterday’s, shows the amount of beer exported by the nations of the world, with the size of their relative amount of exporting shown by the size of the rectangle.
Today’s infographic is an interesting treemap created by the Observatory of Economic Complexity, a collaboration between M.I.T. and Harvard. This one shows the amount of beer imported by the nations of the world, with the size of their relative amount of importing shown by the size of the rectangle.
Today’s infographic is a funny one, created by Roth IRA to show just how much beer you could sock away if you “save just $1 per day starting at age 25.” I guess my tower would be significantly shorter. Called The Awesome Tower of Beer, which by age 70 would be 5,736 feet tall.
One of San Francisco’s newest beer companies, Pine Street Brewery, is building its own brewery and trying to expand its business. One of things they’re in desperate need of is tap handles and kegs. So they’ve turned to Indiegogo (a crowdfunding website similar to Kickstarter) to help raise the funds they need to grow. They’re offering various tchotchkes for different levels of financial support, as detailed in the Indigogo Pine Street Brewery web page.
With our recipes perfected and a commercial brewing space secured, we need tap handles and kegs to keep up with growing demand in San Francisco! With your help we can provide our city with enough green PSB handles to have our beer in every neighborhood.
We’ve brainstormed hard to come up with great incentives for your donations – just a small token of how much we appreciate your generosity. (Check the gallery for photos of the prizes: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/pine-street-b…). Your contributions will help us establish our presence in the city, and we hope you’ll be proud to say you helped make it happen!
The Pine Street Brewery Story
A couple of months ago, the Tax Foundation interviewed Lester Jones, who’s the economist for the Beer Institute in Washington, DC. As I am a great fan of the dismal science, Lester’s become a good friend over the years and is a great asset to the beer industry. Tax Foundation host Richard Morrison describes the podcast interview. “Beer Institute Chief Economist Lester Jones explains the tangled web of federal, state, and local taxes that get applied to the beer we drink.”
If that doesn’t work, try listening to it directly on the web.
Today’s infographic is about the Alcohol Industry, and whether or not it’s recession-proof. It was created by Total DUI’s Check Points blog. I’m not sure what their angle was, but they pretty much came to the same conclusion most analysts did, which is that it’s more recession-resistant than recession-proof.