Sunday, February 12, 2012

Market Mispricing, Female Nudity Edition

Marginal Revolution linked to this interesting piece in the Sacramento Bee on how the Burning Man Festival has run into lots of problems because it replaced its first come first serve online ticket system with a lottery. This led to a lot of the regular people not getting tickets, which is a particular problem since it's the regular people who designed the structures and cool stuff which made the event fun.

But what was most prophetic to me was one of the closing sentences:
Jones said there is legitimate concern that this might be the "jump the shark" year for Burning Man, when the artists are overpowered by those merely hoping to see topless women
Is there anyone who seriously doubts that the potential size of the latter category vastly exceeds the number of people in the former category?

The former is made up of a few idealistic hippies. The latter is made up of the half of the population known as 'men'.

It thus seems inevitable that sooner or later the perverts will price out the artists. When this happens, of course, that will be the end of the festival. Who wants to stand around in the desert with nobody but a group of seedy men? Nobody. In addition, you can expect the supply of topless women to dry up pretty fast too. Without the artsy atmosphere, how are you going to get the naked hippy girls to show up?

In other words, even if this isn't the end of burning man, I'd expect it to end this way eventually. A reputation for having naked young women walking around in public is too much of an arbitrage to not be eliminated by throngs of leering, gawking men.

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