Phi Beta Cons

What’s behind high textbook costs, and other market failures

You might say that a high cost of production and a limited market size make textbooks a boutique item with higher end cost to consumers than mass-published books. But then you’d be a blind McCorporate whorepig. Obviously, the problem is a “flaw” in the market. Evidently “supply, not demand” is what determines how many textbooks are sold. The solution? Put all the textbooks online. The Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance deserves kudos for spending two months or more deciding that the Internet is the solution to our problems.
There are other dangerous market flaws that you ought to know about. One allows Coca-Cola to produce a high quality product at low cost, sating the thirst of the people of the world. Unfortunately, the market also requires Coca-Cola to assassinate any and all who stand athwart its grinning destructive maw.
Lesser activists do not make the murder claim. At Dartmouth College, the Ban Coke movement has just got started. You can turn in Coke products and get free ice cream. Why give up Coke? Because according to the activists the company “[p]rivatizes the water in rural areas of India, forcing the people to either purchase their water or go thirsty.” (The organizers are evidently not aware that most water sources are privatized in the United States, too; it goes with that capitalistic conceit of land ownership.) And that Coke “[a]llows bottlers in Colombia to kill union workers that fight for better wages and working conditions.” (Oh, I suppose Dartmouth kids are claiming that Coca-Cola has an ongoing organized black ops assassination scheme.) And finally that Coke “[p]rofits from the hazardous labor of children in sugar cane fields El Salvador,” which is a very sad thing indeed but no different from any other large company that taps into relatively undeveloped labor markets.


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