This week’s episode. San Fran Nanny State Behavioral Econ gone wrong,
'The Big Happy Meal Caper'
The story is as follows:
San Fran Nanny-State Supe, Eric Mar, finds a sizable stash of…er…Happy Meal toys in his daughter’s room. Somehow, even though he was the parent buying the meals he was not aware of the toys, or the sheer volume of visits? At any rate, he was shocked, SHOCKED. Outraged, he saw Mickey D’s as a nefarious manipulator of his kid, of all kids, what with offering those toys as incentive to buy greasy fries and smallish hamburgers, along with sugary drinks or shakes. He was apparently simply unable to resist his child’s insistent pleading, over and over again he caved, but nevertheless had the sagacity to see through his own shortcomings to a degree sufficient to envision, with laser-like clarity, what MUST be done to save the kids. Remember, it’s all about the kids.
[Never mind that you could, at the time of this horrible discovery, purchase said toys without having to buy the noxious food. More on this shortly.]
Brave Sir Mar shepherded a law through the hallowed Halls of San Francisco municipal government that made it illegal to include toys in meals that did not meet with stringent health standards. Hah! Take that Eevil McD Incorporated! If the meal packs more than 600 calories and doesn’t include a requisite amount of fruit/veggie content, ‘No Toy for You!’
Victory! Well, sort of…What McDonalds can now do, staying within the letter of the law, is sell the Happy Meal to you sans toy. For the toy, you’ll have to fork over another ten cents, (ten cents that goes to Ronald MacDonald House by the way.)
In fact, if the linked story is accurate, this is now the only way to acquire the toys, because the option of paying $2.18 for the toy sans food is now verboten by the Brave Sir Mar shepherded law that will take effect 12-1-11. As of that dread day, you cannot walk into Mickey D’s and buy one of the freaking toys. Illegal.
So: The only way you can attain the toy is to go in, fork over the cost of the meal, plus one dime.
Now, strain your brains here folks. Think like one o’ dem edjumukated behavioral econ types. You know the fellers, those that would incentivize every wise choice by manipulating economic motivations… Put that behavioral econ hat on your noggin and get to cogitatin’:
First, some constants:
1. Kids will continue to like Mickey D’s Toys.
2. Kids will continue to like Mickey D’s food.
3. Kids will continue to like Mickey D’s Play Land.
Therefore, we can infer:
4. Kids will continue to pester spineless parents into trips to Mickey D’s.
5. Kid’s will continue to eat Happy Meals.
6. Kids will continue to insist on the toys.
7. Kids will now receive the Toys, but not as included items, not - as was previously the case - safely nestled in the Happy Meal Bag.
The toys will now be handed to the sweet faced cherubs SEPARATELY.
Oh. That’s good.
What is more:
8. Those parents that had been purchasing said toys sans food will now have to purchase them with the food, this now being the only legal way to acquire the items.
9. So, overall levels of toy distribution will probably remain the same,
10. Levels of Happy Meal consumption will rise.
Leeroy Jenkins lesson:
Never mind all that careful planning and behavioral economics forecasting, and just run into the damn place. Even with all that planning, you’ll end up just where you started, or worse. So, Chumps, let’s do this! (runs into cave)
And, once you have implemented a plan, and it looks like things are not turning out as predicted, that is; once The Plan has faced Grim Recalcitrant Reality? We can even glean a lesson for that sorry circumstance from the Gospel of Leeroy itself. Sometimes, it is unwise to stick to the plan, no matter how logical and flawless it may seem. For it is written in the Book of Leeroy:
Player 1: Save him! Oh jeez, stick to the plan. Oh jeez, let’s go,
let’s go! [follows]
Player 1 [laughing]: Stick to the plan guys, stick to the plan!
Player 1: Oh jeez, oh f@3%.
[Indistinguishable]: Gimme a Divine Intervention, hurry up!
Divine intervention indeed. Sometimes that’s all you can hope for.
As for the kids, we have it on reliable sources that Brave Sir Mar’s daughter had this to say:
“At least I have chicken nuggets”