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Is Maximizing Profits Foul?

Here’s a letter to Keith Olbermann; (I don’t normally listen to Olbermann, but earlier today I caught this clip playing on a radio in a physician’s waiting room):

Mr. Keith Olbermann

Mr. Olbermann:

In high moral dudgeon, you complained about the timing and scheduling of Major League Baseball games.   And when you revealed your theory for why this timing and scheduling isn’t to your liking, you did so as if you were courageously exposing forces as sinister as they are harmful.  Quoting you: “Do you know why the post-season games start so late?  8:37 instead of 8:07?  8:07 instead of 7:37?  Because on weeknights, the closer the game gets towards midnight eastern, the more people watch it.”*

Gasp!  Is Major League Baseball really so foul as to offer its product at times when the masses most prefer to watch it rather than at times that are less convenient for the masses?  Is MLB truly so greedy and cold-hearted that it carefully pays attention to its customers’ preferences and works successfully to satisfy those preferences?  Say it ain’t so!!

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

* The referenced lines start at around the 4:40 mark here.

As best as I can figure it, Olbermann – serious “Progressive” that he is – regards profits as morally suspect and as evidence of harm inflicted on innocent others.  Because MLB times and schedules its games in order (as we economists inelegantly say) to “maximize its profits” – and because Olbermann understands this fact – he knee-jerkily concludes that scheduling games at times when more, rather than fewer, people will tune in is unsavory.  Sigh.