Tuesday, March 15, 2005

A Cleaner Harvard?

Don’t you just hate not having everything? Lots of people do and there’s basically three ways to respond.

The first is working hard and contributing something valuable to society, earning money to pay for lots of cool stuff.

The second is taking stuff from others and using it yourself. This always involves some kind of force so it’s particularly common in government.

The third is just encouraging less stuff across the board. That way, no one feels jealous. This is favored reasoning on college campuses, even when it concerns something colleges desperately need: cleaning.

Don Boudreaux at Café Hayek reported that Harvard students are complaining about Michael Kopko, a student selling maid services to dorm residents. An opinion piece in The Harvard Crimson claims,
By creating yet another differential between the haves and have-nots on campus, Dormaid threatens our student unity.... We urge the student body to boycott Dormaid [the name of Kopko’s company].
It goes on to argue that the service may create conflict between roommates (one wants it and the other doesn’t). Don rightly points out that this level of immaturity is hardly suiting for a college student.

Just for fun, let’s suppose the students have a point—inequality is bad because it makes people feel bad. By logical extension, all signs of different incomes should be eliminated. Nice cars (in fact, any cars) should be towed away. Televisions, microwaves, refrigerators, printers, game consoles, VCRs, DVD players and even computers that don’t belong to everyone should be removed from the dorms. All students should be limited to maximum standard of clothing and makeup. CDs, DVDs and newspapers should be stowed out of site. Decorating of any sort should be prohibitive (unless it’s with materials provided by the school). Food and dishes should similarly be taken away.

On the plus side, rooms won’t need cleaning anymore.

NOTE: Don used the words “chooses not buy” instead of “cannot afford” and inquired why he would do so. One reason is unless the service costs several thousand dollars, student can find ways to pay for it. For example, they could not buy some of their very expensive school books and instead photocopy and/or borrow them from others (I know students who do this). The nature of the case yields a second reason why any student could afford the service: they can do it themselves.

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