UBS Bank gets set for Oktoberfest with a chart of beer affordability around the world. Using median income figures and prices for a pint, the chart calculates how long the Average Jose has to work in various countries to buy some suds. Raise your glass and chant "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!"
The Economist, where this chart appears, never seemed like a magazine for inexpensive beer drinkers. Neverthless, they may be overstating the price-per-hour slightly.
U.S. median income is $50,054 per year. With a 40-hour work week over 52 weeks, that comes to about 40 cents a minute. A 24-pack of Miller High Life in my neighborhood comes to $15.99, which is quite a bit more than I prefer to pay, but nevertheless this comes to about 67 cents a can.
The UBS chart uses a 500-milliliter beverage, which is a little more than a pint. Even scaling up the size of the beer, that still means you can get the Champagne of Beers at a little less than 90 cents a can. (Do they even sell High Life by the pint? That seems kind of British.) So in reality, John Q. Public only has to work somewhere between a minute and a half and three minutes to quench the deep-down-body thirst we all feel after 90 seconds or so of concentrated labor.
The chart, however, has Americans toiling about six minutes per beer. Those are the kind of economics that could cost Barack Obama the election, unless they start serving Hamm's at those beer summits.
UBS has the unit "retail" price for the United States at what I presume is $1.80. That seems too cheap for a bar and too pricey for a supermarket. It's good to know our overpaid working slobs are getting great taste for their less filling career prospects, but let's face it: It's been downhill for this country ever since they stopped brewing Henry Weinhard's.
Update: National Journal shows how beer drinkers line up by party affiliation: