Friday, January 31, 2014

Oh Lord, Stuck in Conyers Again

Reports here and there of folks stuck in and around the Atlanta area thanks to inclement weather. In the first case, people end up spending the night in grocery stores. In the second, kids enjoy a sleepover at school.

I might be peering through rose-colored glasses, but neighbors helping neighbors is the finest expression of human cooperation we've got. A night spent snoozing on a Piggly Wiggly tile floor or in the gymnasium is better than freezing to death in the cold, but it's probably not as good as a warm bed in someone's house.

Even if you'd have to spend a couple of c-notes for the privilege.

One of the things that struck me about traveling in Europe was the proliferation of pensions: homeowners who (usually after retirement) would let out a room for travelers for the night. For those of you who've not done much backpacking abroad, they're a step lateral from a bed and breakfast—cozier than dedicated lodging, but typically cheaper and with higher quality variance. Also, they tend to be marginally (marginally!) unregulated, ceteris paribus.

The Atlanta snow.. what to call it... event probably qualifies as non-ergodic. Whether you pin it strictly on the weather or a concatenation of snowfall and a poor municipal response, Atlanta residents were caught with the pants further down than they usually are.

Here, our troublesome counterfactual problem once again rears its slovenly visage. What's actually blocking folks from selling rooms to stranded travelers? Price gouging statutes are popular when put to a vote, suggesting to me that an entrepreneurial effort that would enjoin folks to renting out a spare bedroom to a waylaid wayfarer would be far from peachy under the harsh light of day. Another way, it's not the scribbled-down statute law that keeps people from opening their doors to strangers in return for a modest profit, but rather the underlying moral intuition that supports both price-gouging legislation and the urge to cheer when the cops dump the yahoos' ice on the ground in Raleigh.

Tender sentiment against taking advantage of folks' situation can easily strand those unfortunates to hardscrapple attempts at sleeping on hard tile floors (or worse).

Cleanup on aisle 3.

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Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?