Saturday, April 9, 2011

NYC MTA Versus Entrepreneurial Artists: How Government Doesn't Welfare Maximize

One of the MetroCards painted by Victoria McKenzie.

Original NYC MTA MetroCard

Which of the above cards would you rather have in your purse or wallet to use to pay NYC bus and subway fares?

The top picture is an artist painting by Victoria McKenzie on a usable MetroCard. The lower is the original MetroCard.

From The Wall Street Journal article, "MTA Says Artist on Wrong Track" by Shelly Banjo and Andrew Grossman:
The cash-strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority is taking a swipe at an East Village artist for selling painted MetroCards, claiming the artist infringed on the authority's trademarked brand and logo.

But what the MTA deems copyright infringement is seen as works of art by self-described MetroCartists fighting for the right to use the cards as canvas.
Walk into any Starbucks and there is a choice of 10 to 15 different pictures and designs on pre-paid cards. Starbucks understands it is maximizing its profit by increasing customer welfare by allowing customers to choose a card with a design of their liking.

Nothing to date has stopped the MTA from issuing designer MetroCards or from selling them at a premium, which Starbucks does not.

Government functions are never about maximizing either profits or revenues and government certainly is not concerned about increasing consumer or taxpayer welfare.

Artists are not painting and selling Starbucks pre-paid cards. They are painting MetroCards because there is an unmet consumer market.

If the transportation system in NYC were private, competitive and relatively unregulated, instead of government owned and run, the private owners would strive daily to increase their revenue and profits along with consumer satisfaction and welfare. There likely would have been long ago a choice of many different types of designs and pictures for MetroCards.

Consumer welfare increasing is not part of the daily operation of government thinking or function, but it is part of the regular thinking in a competitive privately owned business environment.

1 comment :

  1. It's what you basically want in your wallet. I like the one with artwork.