David R. Henderson  

What is Service?

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Do-It-Yourself vs. the Minimum... Evil in Plain Sight...

This morning I was in a hurry to make it to my Sunday morning walk and hadn't had time to make breakfast. So, on the way home from getting coffee for my wife and daughter, I stopped at McDonald's for an Egg McMuffin. When I went to pay, the woman behind the counter said, "You know, people who serve the military can get a discount?"

"Why did you think of that?" I asked.

"Because when you pulled out your wallet, I saw your military ID."

I carry a US Navy civilian ID.

"Thanks," I said, "how much is the discount?

It was a whopping 25%. I accepted.

"We give a discount because people in the military and who work for the military are serving their country," she said.

For my complete thoughts on this, see my "Are You Being Served?", published at antiwar.com.

But I didn't want to barrage her with my thoughts on this. So I said, "You know, there's someone here who clearly is serving her country?"

"Who is that?", she asked.

"You," I said. "Not only are you serving other customers and me, but also we show that it's service by the fact that we're willing to pay for it."

"I guess that's true," she said.

I think I gave her something to think about. When I came home and told my wife, she said, "Trying to change people's minds, one person at a time."


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CATEGORIES: Economic Philosophy



COMMENTS (6 to date)
Tom West writes:

Putting my homo economus hat on:

Well, truthfully, of those who serve me, very few are likely to be murdered in performance of that duty, which makes those jobs that encompass that hazard somewhat special.

Truthfully, if they valued their lives as much as I value mine, they'd have to up military and police pay substantially to make up for the risk and the discomfort of dealing with individuals who actively want to kill you.

Patriotism and a feeling of gratitude from the populace (as manifested by those discounts) may well keep them willing to take the job for much less than one would otherwise have to pay.

As well, it also helps lessen the attractiveness of rewriting the rules of the economic game so that those with the guns own everything, a scenario that is not unknown in other parts of the world, although unlikely here (partially due to the aforementioned patriotism and social status).

David R. Henderson writes:

@Tom West,
I’m not sure why you’re saying this, given that in the article I linked to, I wrote:
"That much defense is a public good is what makes it plausible to say that some people in the military are serving us – they are doing so by defending us."

Tom West writes:

Sorry, I wasn't addressing your point in the article about the word "service". I don't disagree with it.

I was mostly pointing out if you are going to put people in harm's way, it's much cheaper to appeal to patriotism and convince people to accord them status than pay them for the risk.

David R. Henderson writes:

@Tom West,
Whoa! You’re right that I totally missed your point. Now I get it.

Mr. Econotarian writes:

More importantly, why does McDonalds offer discounts to military patrons?

Is it because:

1) Signaling aka PR to the general public?
2) Price discrimination or loyalty targeting of military customers?

Tony Lic writes:

I've only gotten the 25% discount at the Monterey McDonalds near Dennis The Menace park. I'm pretty sure it's done to gain customer loyalty and a little PR. Military housing is only 1.5 miles away and NPS is maybe .75 miles away so it's convenient.

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