Basic Econ Fail: This is why we’re all going to hell

I am currently studying at the University of Chicago, an institution known for its world-renowned economics department.  An institution which was at one time home to Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman.  An institution which has produced 25 Nobel prize winning economists.  In fact, the Chicago School of economics is well known for examining the economics of everyday interactions by normal people, or behavioral economics.  The people around here tend to know a thing or two about economics.

This afternoon, what should pop up in my inbox, but a message saying that ever since printing in the dorms has gone from a “pay per page” system to a “free and unlimited” system, the number of pages being printed has increased by more than sixfold.  Let me restate that.  The people running the housing and computer system are surprised that by lowering the monetary cost of printing to “0,” the demand for printing has increased.  Remember, these are college kids who are doing the printing, so they’re much more likely to be scared off by a monetary cost such as paying a couple of bucks than a non-monetary cost such as walking down to the lobby where the printer is.

The logical response would be to start charging for printing as soon as possible.  The administration has decided that they will wait until the end of the quarter to begin charging for printing.  Until then, they will implore people to act against their own self interest and not print as much for the sake of the school and the environment, even going so far as to say that we are “going through nearly 20 reams of paper a day,” and that the students must “think of the trees.”  How ironic is it that every student who passes through here is required to take a social sciences core class in which they read The Wealth of Nations.

If the people here can’t understand the basic economics of this situation, what hope do we have for the populous to know and vote for sound economic policy?

-Manhattan LP Chicago Correspondent

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