Friday, June 03, 2005

Dumb stuff economists think about 

Looking in our office supply closet I find a cheap stick pen with a chain attached to it. It is a counter pen, like this one for $6. It has "AgiON Technology Built In" to make it antimicrobial. Which means, I guess, they smeared some stuff on there to prevent germs from spreading. Or at least, so they say.

I am trying to figure out the set of relative prices that makes these pens an efficient purchase. Is it that pens get taken? I don't know -- if I'm a bank or a store or something like this, wouldn't it be better to simply plaster my logo on the pen and convert it to advertising? The pen can't be more than twenty cents -- not that bad an advertising purchase. Is it the cost of reloading the cup with the pens in it as they get taken? If it's a counter with a server or cashier behind it, certainly the opportunity cost of that person's time is pretty low. Probably not a good deal. How many pens are pinched at the bank, at the grocery store or gas station?

Meanwhile it's very annoying to sign a check or credit card voucher with a pen with a chain on it. Or pulling up the pen from the bowels of Hell where it has swung since the last person used it.

Do you check to see if the pen is antimicrobial? I doubt it. Maybe Lileks. Or Monk.