Monday, March 17, 2008

Doughnuts and Capitalism

I work night shift on the weekends at my neighborhood gas station. Night shifts mean lots of drunk people coming in mixed with lots of down time. As one of my night shift duties, I have to throw away the old doughnuts from the day before and put the fresh ones out. As I was doing this last weekend a drunk college chick started yelling at me.

"You are NOT going to throw those away."
"Uh ... yes I am."
"Did you know - did you know there are starving children in Africa?"
"Did you know the cost of transporting stale doughnuts across the Atlantic is astronomical compared to the cost of simply sending money?"
"Well give them to some homeless people! Don't just throw them out!"
"It's my job to throw them out. I've been specifically instructed not to give them away. Besides that, there's no economic incentive for this company to give doughnuts away. There's actually a disincentive, because that would make people less likely to buy the doughnuts for their full price, as well as costing us for the labor and support systems needed to give them away - which are non-zero."
"People like you are the reason that other countries hate us." She swayed a little as she said this.
"Right ... but that's the mostly capitalist way. Your recourse as a citizen is to either start a boycott until we change our practices, or write to your local government and get a law passed. Either of those would make it more advantageous to give the doughnuts away. Or you could come up with a better system of government. But for now, all you're doing is making us both upset."
"You're a dick."

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