A colleague was reading the Muscatine Journal over morning coffee Monday. He quickly turned the pages as if he was speed reading. "There," he said. "I just spent three minutes reading the Journal. There's nothing in it for me." My colleague lookd at the front page. "This is all AP news that I read in the Register. There's not much local news." My friend shoved the paper away like the paper had the MRSA virus.
Could my friend's reaction be related to the Tyranny of the Market, Joel Waldfogel's new book?
From the back of the dust cover Austan Goolsbee writes, "This is a book for all the people out there who sit down and flip through hundreds of channels but never seem to find something they like. In it Joel Waldfogel, one of America's most interesting economists, shows exactly how many people in the marketplace end up stranded, unable to get what they want. It's a provocative statement on why free markets don't necessarily make everyone better off."
Joel aruges that high fixed costs and the majority rule fail to deliver the right quantity of goods to the minority preferences. In my friend's case, the news that he wanted to read was the minority prefernce.