The spice trade

How to create a black market in salt, pepper, and sugar, and incidentally nurture some budding adolescent entrepreneurs.  We'll need special SWAT teams next.

The focus is supposed to be on "hungry, needy kids," but I suspect this model would start working only if they could get some hungrier, needier kids.  Traditionally the approach worked well with hospitals, jails, and abusive orphanages.  These kids get to leave the premises every afternoon, so there's a limit to how far you can jack with them.


Grim said...

This reminds me of why I hated public school so much -- not just High School, but especially High School. Petty tyrants everywhere, now joined at the hip to the not-so-petty tyrants in the Federal government.

E Hines said...

In my junior high, there also was a solid black market in lunch tickets--tickets which had to be bought from the school on Mondays for the week, and then the tickets handed to the cafeteria monitor in order to get a lunch that day.

The source of our black market tickets? The school. There weren't any limits on the number of lunch tickets a student could buy for a given week, and lots of us would generally buy extra. There were always students who forgot to buy, forgot to bring money to buy, didn't have any money on Monday, etc. Most of those students did have money to buy a ticket on a subsequent day. As long as we didn't charge too much over the nominal price, the school looked the other way: we had very few repeat customers, and the extra vig they paid was an encouragement to remember better the next week.

That it was mostly forgetfulness was demonstrated by the trafficking dwindling as the school year went on.

Wouldn't work today with the PC zero tolerance nonsense.

Eric Hines

douglas said...

Eric, think of the all the valuable lessons learned about life, responsibility and markets in that interaction. Can't have that, can we?

The new rebellion- where it once was tea, it's now salt, pepper and sugar.
Now that's a lesson I can support them learning.

Texan99 said...

They're learning that supply can be limited in a lot of ways, and that it affects price if demand stays steady. They're also learning that markets have a way of finding paths around all kinds of boneheaded bureaucratic strangleholds, and that when prices get high enough, people burst out with new and creative solutions using the same old resources. The new sugar, salt, and pepper are the same as the old except that someone had to use effort and creativity (and expose himself to new risk) to get it to the consumers.

Meanwhile the people in charge of schools are thinking, "If only we had more thorough control over all the actors in the market, we could create a healthy paradise."