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By: Wayne Brown
The people were gathering around outside a building which had been a familiar sight in their town for many years. The building had been the home to a McDonalds which had been the first “chain restaurant” to come and plant roots in the small town. That single move had created a boon as more chain type fast-food restaurants began to follow McDonald’s lead. Of course this was eventually a shot in the arm to the local economy as more people spent more money on fast food and that money circulated in the local economy through jobs and spending with outside vendors. It seemed a “win/win” solution for the town.
Today, something was very strange. The doors were locked and the McDonald’s sign were no longer in place on the post or the building marquee. In their place was an unfamiliar sign reading “McBungles”. As folks parked their cars and walked to the crowd in front of the locked door, they began to speculate as to what was going on with this change in their town.
As they milled about and talked, the sounds of the double doors unlocking caught their attention. Immediately a neatly dressed young man stepped outside and welcomed those forming the crowd to the first day of business for the McBungles’ food chain. He explained that while McDonald’s had done well, the concept had run its course and the government was beginning to realize that the food selection offered by the chain was bad for the health of the citizens. He told the crowd that McDonald’s management knew they were facing extinction if they did not change their ways and thus, McBungles was born to replace the aging McDonald’s concept. The young manager emphasized that McBungles represented a reform or fundamental transformation of the McDonald’s approach to the food business.
As he invited the customers into the dining area, they immediately noticed menu boards listing all the foods offered by the McBungle’s chain. Most of the foods appeared to be health-oriented products designed to provide good nutrition while minimizing fats and carbohydrates. One customer yelled out, “Hey where are the prices?” Sure enough, while the food selection was listed on the board there were no prices listed for any item. The customers looked at each other in confusion and then turned to the young manager and repeated the question in unison.
“Well,” stated the young man, “Remember that I told you that this was a fundamental transformation. Pricing under our current marketing scenario would be very difficult to do. Instead, once you make your desires known to our attendant, they will ask you how much money you have in the bank. On the basis of your answer, the attendant types that amount into the computer which then calculates what you owe for your food. Let me give you a quick example.
The young manager moved to the counter area and faced the people. “Now let’s take this young lady here, I would assume that maybe you are a college student or a young person who is just joining the workforce. Is that the case?” The manager queried. “Yes,” Replied the young lady. “I just started working at the Insurance Office down the street straight out of high school.”
“Okay, perfect!” replied the manager. “And how about you, sir, you appear to be a man who has worked a few years and is established in your profession.”
“That’s true,” replied the gray-haired man. I am a doctor who has operated a medical practice in the community for two decades now. A very successful practice I might add.”
“Wonderful,” stated the young manager. “The two of you are perfect for my example”
The young manager then went on to explain to the crowd using his two examples as aids in clarifying his point. He suggested that both the young lady and the older doctor have the “McBungle’s Burger” listed on the board. He then turned to the computer and asked the young lady how much money she had in the bank to which the young lady replied “$200”. He punched the figure into the computer and then a price appeared in the display showing that she owed $2.25 for her burger. The manager now went through the same exercise with the older man who was the doctor. He typed in the amount of money the doctor told him was in his bank account and suddenly the price for the burger appeared on the display…$8.40.
“What?” the doctor quickly said. You mean to tell me that both of us are having exactly the same meal and I am paying almost four times as much for my meal as this young lady is paying for her meal. How can you do that?”
The manager smiled at the man and quickly pointed out that the doctor had many assets and considerable money in the bank therefore his “ability to pay” exceeded that of the young lady by far more than four times the price therefore McBungle’s had been much more than fair in its calculation of the relative price. Then the manager went on to explain that a significant part of the company’s mission was to be able to feed those folks who had little or no money at “no charge”. On that basis, he pointed out that one could see why the doctor needed to pay the higher amount as it would provide the money necessary to feed the other people who were less fortunate.
The manager went on to explain that the marketing strategy would be heavily focused on attracting the customer with significant assets into the store. This would keep pricing at a level such that the chain could make its normal profits while also feeding those folks who had yet accomplished much in life. The others could easily afford the pricing and no one would really be getting hurt in the equation. It was truly a “win/win” for all parties in the end.
So, on that day, the crowd was sold on the idea of fundamental transformation and each one stepped forward to order their meal. Since their orders varied, most of them could not see the relative difference in pricing which they were being charged on the basis of their bank accounts. Most of them left happy and told the young manager that they would return and over the coming months that proved to be true as more and more people came into the chain to eat.
Slowly, over time, people begin to get a feel for what their meal was costing them on the basis of their bank accounts versus others who were in line with them. Then some of them had a bright idea and began to lie about their bank balances. Soon, almost everyone in town was eating for free or close to it at McBungles and the chain was beginning to hurt financially.
The class envy in the town began to show. The young woman who worked at the Insurance Store could no longer stand the sight of the doctor who had so much more money than she did. She felt that he did not deserve to have assets like that no matter how hard he worked or how many years he had studied. The doctor in turn was resentful of the young lady because he felt it was unfair that he subsidize the price of her food purchases. He had done nothing to warrant having to prop up her needs through pricing penalties. Soon there were cracks and divisions in the population of the town. Fundamental transformation had fueled the fires of class envy throughout the town.
When McBungles could no longer pay its taxes and was faced with closing the doors, the government was outraged as the healthy food idea coupled with fundamental transformation was just too much too lose at one time. So, the government sent in the FBI and the IRS to investigate. Well, it didn’t take much investigation before it became apparent that people were lying about their assets in order to get cheap food. The government was faced with a dilemma which called for the President and Congress to act quickly and invoke laws allowing the computer system at McBungle’s to direct query the financial assets of all its potential customers so the proper pricing could be achieved. Suddenly, with this government intervention, the chain was back on track to profitability and fundamental transformation not to mention the community service being done on their part to achieve wealth redistribution in the town.
The other chains and restaurants in the town that witnessed McBungle’s success started copying the model right down to using the direct query of assets. Soon there was no place to eat in town for those with any money unless they were willing to pay very high prices for their food. The concept soon spread to the grocery stores causing the costs of eating at home to go through the roof for anyone with money in the bank. The hand-writing was on the wall as fundamental transformation had taken root and was growing throughout the community.
Soon those who had money in the bank started noticing that those with no money were living better than they were. They had more groceries and cheaper eat-out food. Soon gasoline was being sold in the same manner. The cards were slowly stacking up against the sector of society that had worked and achieved assets. Suddenly, it was apparent that working and achieving was no longer the answer to success. One simply needed to let go of their assets and join the ranks of those who were benefitting by not achieving anything. The doctor closed his practice and within a few months had lost enough of his assets to almost eat for free at McBungles. Other professionals and business people followed suit. Fundamental transformation had finally won the day. Reform and change had finally created a society totally dependent on the achievements of others yet by the day there were fewer and fewer achievers lining up to consume the goods.
The direct query lost its affect because the people had no money. They did not produce anything. The businesses which had followed the McBungle’s model were now back to the brink of bankruptcy and there was no place to go. They could not return to the old way of doing business because no one had any money to spend. There was nothing left to do but close the doors and join the ranks which were getting poorer by the day.
The town soon became an empty shell as more and more building were vacated by businesses which had gone broke. People were on the streets begging each other for food and comfort. There was nothing to share because there was nothing produced. The circular error of fundamental transformation was finally becoming all too apparent…when the producers are no longer motivated and basically penalized out of the society; the world begins to fall apart. Now the people had no place to go or to look for assistance except the government. Of course, that source had almost dried up as well because the revenue stream flowing into the government had diminished little by little as the debt piled up. The government took on more and more social welfare and borrowed money in every place that it could driving the national debt level totally off the charts into undefined levels.
Like a disease spreads through the body, fundamental transformation spread throughout the society and eventually undermined the world as all were slowly pulled into that deep abyss which appeared on a sign in a small town one morning advertising a new fast-food chain…McBungle’s.
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