Michael Munger: Economics lesson

April 14, 2014 

I felt conflicted reading Henry Gargan’s April 13 POV piece “ As Roses closes, a conflicted goodbye.” Some folks are so ignorant of markets that they think selling quality products at low prices in convenient stores such as Roses is “exploitative.”

Having Gargan argue this point, and having The N&O give it prominent space, makes for a useful reading for my economics classes. That made me happy. Still, it’s upsetting to see Gargan exploiting his privileged position.

UNC is protected from any kind of competition and takes its budget from public taxes. Gargan pays, at most, a fraction of the cost of mislearning economics; he is essentially using taxpayers’ money against them. And because the state uses taxes to subsidize leftist think tanks like the journalism school, there isn’t much those of us who care about education can do about it.

The big picture is that Gargan will never have to face any of the costs of his exploitative misuse of tax funds for personal gain. But the little picture, the one solace in all this, is that I can now use this bizarrely misinformed view of commerce as a teaching tool.

Michael Munger

Professor, Duke University. Raleigh

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