I am a 13-year-old boy. My school has a monthly pizza sale. Parents buy pies from a pizzeria and sell them to us for $1 a slice. I bought a whole pie at the pizzeria and offered slices for $2 to kids at the end of the long line. A school counselor stopped me. She said that I was unethical and was "taking advantage of people." I thought I was providing a service to people based on the principle that "time is money." Who is right? Ben Gammage, San DiegoRandy Cohen shows hostility to market-based solutions,
Time may be money, but how much, really, for an eighth grader, who is not paid to attend school?Isn't everyone's time worth something?
And do we really want all our interactions based on the variable-pricing airline-seat model?Translation: Randy wants all prices to stay the same and not reflect supply and demand.
Were pizza a necessity of life (as many teenagers regard it) and in short supply, you would have been been guilty of profiteering, as your counselor charged.Price gouging is one of the great myths of our time. Because it doesn't exist, one should be wary of the motives of anyone who claims it does.
But there was plenty of pizza, so you didn't exploit anyone. And pizza does remain a luxury, so nobody was compelled to buy your pricier slices....Thus your actions were not unethical, but they were poor social policy — if that's not too fancy a way to describe undermining a pizza party.There we have it: it's all about social policy. But if that's the case, what about means-testing for determining the price of pizza?Indeed,
Your counselor's concern was valid, if poorly expressed. The dollar-a-slice deal made possible a schoolwide pizza party, affordable fun for everyone. Judging by the long line, it's something people enjoy.So long lines are a good sign. Does Randy hope for the same thing at gas stations?
You turned it into a two-tiered system — kids with money don't wait; kids without money do — shifting it from a we're-all-in-it-together event to something less communitarian (if more profitable).More here.