For some strange reason, those of us who teach economics (and I do) find that we repeatedly have to explain to leftists one of the fundamental differences between markets and the state.
That difference is choice.
If you don’t buy a burger from McDonald’s, they don’t arrest you. If you don’t want to pay the government for its “services,” you’ll eventually spend time behind bars, or die trying to fight against those who come to take you to the cell.
So it’s more than a bit annoying to see a market-based burger chain repeatedly engage in behavior that overlooks this fundamental principle. In fact, in its new “Chick Tax” ad, Burger King just went beyond misinforming people -- it actually lobbied them to engage in political action. The response? Overwhelmingly negative, and Burger King is – shocker! -- losing customers.
This follows in the footsteps of dumb campaigns we’ve noted here at MRCTV -- campaigns like putting “Sex Toys” in Israeli “Adult Meals” for Valentine’s Day, and its “Whopper Neutrality” ad, in which the chain used hidden cams to record reactions to different prices for different speeds of service as a way to promote the fiction that Net Neutrality -- i.e., government control of internet pricing -- is “important.”
Now, the new “Chick Tax” ad also follows the incredibly insulting campaign Burger King conducted in Russia promising Whoppers for life to any woman who got impregnated by a Russian World Cup Soccer player.
Talk about bad taste.
But the “Chick tax” ad isn’t just about offensive ideas. As with its incorrect “Whopper Neutrality” ad, the “Chick Tax” commercial not only spreads misleading economic information and perpetuates myths about “women paying more for the same product,” it literally flashes a website at the end to facilitate political action in Congress.
And the heart of the argument is not even an argument. The “Chick Tax” ad is a play on the myth of the “Pink Tax,” which many gullible women -- and many ignorant men -- accept as true.
It’s the idea that women pay more for the same products as men when these products are bundled in cute “pink” wrappings. Hence the Burger King ad shows employees telling female customers that the “regular” Chicken Fries are $1.99, while the cute, pink-boxed, “Chick Fries” are $3.99. Aghast and insulted, the female customers are then told that they’re the same food, but one is a cypher for the “Pink Tax.”
Ahh! Dawn shines on yon head! They all see the SJW point and find it offensive that women pay “more for the same thing."
The problem is that this isn’t true, and, even if it were, women would be voluntarily paying more for the same product in a pink container. Nothing and no one is stopping them from buying the bland “male” product if they want to save cash.
The fundamentals come in two streams. First, the products are not the same. Most of the to-do about “pink” products is in the field of toiletries and bodily hygiene products, areas where researchers have shown that females actually do prefer slightly different items.
For example, biologically, women have more sensitive senses of smell than men. As a possible result, lotions, soaps, and shampoo for women are often more complex and utilize more precisely researched scents than products sold to men, who seem to care less. Women generally have more sensitive skin than men; hence, again, lotions and soaps for women are different than those for men.
Perhaps we should put it another way. Since the consumer is the one who drives the direction of where sellers apply their resources, and because women have different preferences as shown in their purchases, sellers make different products and sell them to answer the different female demands.
For example, men’s and women’s razors are different, and they are different because the hair they are cutting, and the surfaces they are covering, are different. Men’s facial hair is tougher than the hair that women’s razors are designed to cut, so the blades have to be different. Men shave more often, so, again, the razors are different. While shaving their legs, women view the work area at a different angle than men looking at their faces in a mirror, so the angle of the women’s razor handle is different.
To assume that the products are the same is simply ignorance bordering on self-indulgence and arrogance. To want to force sellers to sell them for the same price is pathetic and employs government threats when the female consumer could simply buy the other product.
Moreover, as John Dotson writes for the Mises Institute, products made for men and women follow the same rules of supply and demand that everything in the market follows. Based on demand, sellers will offer a certain amount of supply until they reach an equilibrium point.
Companies must set the price as close to this equilibrium price as possible because above this price the company will have a surplus of product to sell, and if it is below this price the company will have shortages, causing a loss in revenue. This works for whole industries too; if suppliers of women’s products are actually charging a higher price for an identical product, and reaping profits, then other firms will start producing women’s products, thus increasing supply and, ceteris paribus, drive prices down.
So, Burger King, SJW ladies (and gentlemen), don’t blame “the market” for different prices or call something pink a “tax.”
A tax is something you’ll be imprisoned for not paying.
The pink is on the label to signal to women that there’s something for sale that has been designed for their interests -- interests reflected in their choices and preferences on the free market.
Freedom of choice is not a tax, and women are not victims of the market. And Burger King insults viewers by implying otherwise.