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An App For the Economically Ignorant

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