When I teach my students about price ceilings (prices set below the market clearing price, resulting in shortages), we discuss how such things result in qeues and other non-price ways that goods get rationed. These "other things" present hidden costs, monetary or not, that people must face in order to claim the goods and it's why, even in the face of price controls, that goods still get steered to those who value them the most. Do ya think that the Henrico (Va) County school system priced iBook computers too low?
Presented with a rare chance to get a used laptop computer for $50, a crowd of more than 5,000 showed up hours early yesterday at the Richmond International Raceway and -- when the gates finally were flung open at 7 a.m. -- turned into an unruly stampede, as people pushed, shoved and beat each other to get to the Apple iBooks. Elderly men and women were trampled and a girl's stroller was crushed.
Somebody didn't do their homework. A quick look at ebay suggests that used iBooks would sell for more than $50.
The county has about 8,000 additional laptops that it plans to sell, Proto said.
Not to make light of this, but maybe county officials need to require at least 8 months of free-weight and cross-training for those who wish to stand in the next computer queue. Better yet, charge a higher price.
Update #2: Here is the official notice of the sale. I am still looking into why officials chose $50 as the price. Since I'm finding similar iBooks on ebay for around $350.00, I don't want to go to Henrico County and see bumper stickers that read "It's sad that the military gets all the money it needs to build bombs while schools have to have bake sales to pay teachers." Henrico County officials had their chance.
Update #3: Here is some stuff from MacObserver, including comments from many readers on their plans to go to Henrico County to get iBooks. Ahhh, a spontaneous development of a market, guided by Adam Smith's invisible hand and unguided by the heavy hand of central planners.
It sounds like the iBooks had been used and abused by the students. What else would we expect from someone who uses property that they do not own?