Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Offer and Acceptance

One of the things I miss about living in the Pacific Northwest is that most august publication, The Stranger. In its pulpy folds can be found some of the finest examples of what appears to seamlessly transition between performance art, human perversion, and Old Media trolling. And the locus for all this hilarity? The personals section. Specifically, the "Other" sub-section.

The best example I recall is from ca. 1994, and it ran a little something like this:
Tired of the same old B&D and S&M? I want you to feed me like a baby pelican. I provide the adult diaper and raw herring, you provide the strap-on beak. Serious inquiries only please. No weirdos.
Of course, anything that dead tree media can do, Craigslist can supercharge and strap on some booster rockets. Witness:

Assume this contract was legitimate and that it was struck. Could this be euvoluntary? And if not, who would be exploiting whom? Economics tells us de gustibus non est disputandum, so as long as $175 is worth more to the person accepting this offer, she'll be better off...

So many questions. Are we talking dollar-store ramen here, or some quality noodles? And is it proper ramen, which is actually a highly refined piece of Japanese cuisine? "Seasoning the sauce" isn't an accurate description of how ramen is traditionally made. And is the tub all the way full? How does one person dispose of a tub full of noodles? How does this guy cook all of them? By the kettleful?

The moral dimension engaged here is a way toned-down version of the same one we looked at in the Armin Meiwes case: disgust. This is kinda gross, but in a juvenile way rather than a horrifying way. Idle perversions may sort of shock the sensibilities of the puritanical among us, but I think the natural reaction here is to snicker rather than to outlaw. But I urge my readers to be sensitive about and take seriously Stigler and Becker. Second-guessing folks' peculiar tastes, no matter how alien or outre is besieged by Pareto-destructive risk. It is indeed hard to make folks better off by denying them alternatives.

Even if those alternatives are to whip up a fresh batch of human-flavored ramen.

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