Room Service Surplus

Staying at the Sheraton Boston, the hotel room has an option:  “Reward yourself with a $5 voucher at participating food … outlets for each night you decline housekeeping services.”   My consumer surplus actually exceeds the $5:  I would pay a little bit extra not to have the cleaning people in my room, since I wouldn’t have to worry about packing things up to hide them, nor about the cleaning people mistakenly throwing something away.  So I take the deal.   One friend here says this isn’t worth it to him—he likes having his room cleaned up each morning.  This illustrates how crucial individual tastes are to determining the surplus we gain from transactions—and the choices we make, or don’t.

Deciding How to Decide: Taste-Matching Or Expert-Based?

This blog post is co-authored with Jacob Appel, co-author of my recent book, More Than Good Intentions.

Among the many questions David Gomberg and Justin Heimberg pose in their hilarious book Would You Rather is the following:

“Would you rather…

Become increasingly intelligent with the consumption of alcohol, but also become increasingly convinced you are Gloria Estefan

OR

Have a firm grasp of Roman numerals but look exactly like Weird Al Yankovic?”

Well, that’s a tough one. Seriously. It’s a classic problem of apples and oranges—or maybe, given the absurdity of the alternatives, a problem of apples and, say, cut-off jeans shorts—two things that are thoroughly incommensurable. Fortunately, those are not real choices.