Monday, November 16, 2015

A Fulbright Scholar Has Created an App for the Economically Illiterate

Don Boudreaux writes:

Here’s a letter to someone who, I’m pretty sure, is only trying to make a few bucks by marketing a product to economically uninformed “Progressives.”
Dr. Shameem Heetun
Fulbright Scholar and CEO of Antilope, LLC
Dr. Heetun:
In a mass e-mail that I received this morning, you boast that your company has developed “a web portal that monetizes the greed of our economic system to balance out our Economic Inequality.”  You describe this marvel as being “a handheld application that will allow people to scan a product and ascertain whether the manufacturer supports the 99% or the 1%, and make their purchasing decision accordingly.”
Excuse me, but doesn’t the fact that a manufacturer produces products for sale to the 99% itself mean that that manufacturer “supports the 99%”?  Doesn’t a manufacturer that supplies product features and quality at prices that many in the 99% find attractive necessarily improve the economic well-being of the 99%?  Doesn’t a manufacturer whose relentless cost reductions make goods and services that were once affordable only by the 1% increasingly affordable to the 99% thereby make people more economically equal in the way that matters most – namely, in what they consume?  And do you not worry that, in an attempt to satisfy your and your customers’ mistaken notion of what it means to “support the 99%,” firms such as Wal-Mart and McDonald’s will adopt politically correct but more costly methods of production that will drive up their prices and, as a result, worsen rather than improve those companies’ abilities to “support the 99%”?
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030
UPDATE: Matt Moore just e-mailed the following note to me (shared here with his kind permission):
Dear Don,
I note that, as a Fulbright scholar, Dr. Shameem Heetun is almost certainly himself a member if the global 1% and finds himself in the unfortunate position of having to recommend that no one purchase his app.
Matt Moore
The above originally appeared at Cafe Hayek.


  1. A more interesting but less marketable App would be a handheld application that will allow people to scan a product and ascertain whether the manufacturer supports a Free and Voluntary Market or benefits from Crony Capitalism, and make their purchasing decision accordingly.

    1. Why do we need this/ Why don't we just buy from people that offer us valuable services. Do we really have to scrutinize every part of their lives?

      I rent office space from neocon Mort Zuckerman am I really supposed to consider the views of my landlords when renting a space? Should I give them a libertarian questionnaire? What about the laundry service I use? This can get pretty absurd.

    2. Need, no, but if you had easy access to accurate info, and all else were equal wouldn't you rather transact with those that are the most free market. Maybe even pay a little more and sacrifice some convenience.

      I was, for the most part, just jokingly contradicting the original App.