Friday, March 14, 2014

Not The Onion: Bottled Water Edition

Via T-Gill, Western Washington University to ban bottled water on campus.
Bottled water and water privatization is detrimental to the environment, to human rights to water and simply doesn't make sense in a region where we have clean, amazing tap water,” said Carolyn Bowie, a member of Students for Sustainable Water at Western. “When WWU implements this change, we will proudly support our local water source, Lake Whatcom, and be a leader in standing up against water privatization in the United States and around the world.​ This change is important because it means upholding Western's values in sustainability and social justice.
Water in bottles is not euvoluntary because... sustainability?

I often wonder what people who have not studied economics imagine the role of price is. Surely they have something in mind. I can't for the life of me fathom what it might be.


  1. They think price is the result of negotiation, and is the result of unequal bargaining power. You & I tend to think that markets provide a context that makes prices informational. They think coercion provides a context where bargaining powers are equalized.

    Here is an admittedly long & rambling post about it:

    1. Perhaps I didn't phrase that as perfectly as I might. Once the commons are under the control of the state, how are bargaining asymmetries solved? To arrive at the implied conclusion, you'd need to honestly believe that the government *is* the people. What adult human with an IQ above the median shoe size believes that?

  2. That's a good question. I think it's why so many people see single payer as the default solution to the health care issue, for instance. They see economic transactions as mostly a power struggle, so they assume that most of the problems will be solved by teaming up, through the state. This is so conceptually inflated in their paradigm that it carries more weight than all the other structural issues, put together.
    Your phrasing was fine, and I'm not defending their paradigm, I'm just saying it explains a lot. For instance, it explains why someone could believe that minimum wages won't decrease employment, and why the min wage movement inexplicably targets large firms, when small firms are the source of most min wage jobs with limited potential for advancement. They think low wages are the product of the negotiating power of big firms.
    You can't reason somebody out of something they didn't reason in to. Not only is there no evidence that government fixes the problem, there is no evidence that it is a significant factor to begin with. Wal-Mart doesn't use their large size to raise their prices.
    This is relevant to your work here. There are lots of people who think that some transactions aren't euvoluntary, simply because of the size of the firm you transact with, the lack of evidence for this concern notwithstanding.


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