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OPINION | Pizza democracy

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SOME people actually like pineapple on pizza. Others sensibly do not. Bàcaro Pizzeria chain in Montreal decided to let its customers vote.

Now me, I would think customers vote every day in what they order. But inspired by a vision of democracy, chef and co-​founder Angelo Mercuri wanted to put the question to an actual vote. And he vowed that if the people rejected the Hawaii 50 pizza, it would be removed from the menu.

In the event, 53 percent voted no. “Democracy rules, and pineapple will never again show up on our menu,” Mercuri said. Of course, that means the 47 percent who like pineapple pizza (or just didn’t want to ban it) won’t be able to get the pizza they want. Mercuri has applied the dysfunction of political decision-​making to the normal individualist functioning of the marketplace. I wrote about a similar example from Sesame Street in my book “The Libertarian Mind”:

In an election special, the Muppets and their human friends have three dollars to spend, and they learn about voting by deciding whether to buy crayons or juice.

Rosita: You count the people who want crayons. Then you count the people who want juice. If more people want juice, it’s juice for everyone. If more people want crayons, it’s crayons.

Telly: Sounds crazy but it might just work!

But why not let each child buy what she wants? Who needs democracy for such decisions? There may be some public goods, but surely juice and crayons don’t count.

Imagine doing this for other market decisions. As of 2019, Lenovo edged out HP for PC market share. So everybody gets a Lenovo, and HP, Apple, and other minority preferences are banished. Big Mac is more popular than the Double Cheeseburger, so no more Doubles. More people choose the Toyota Camry than any other passenger car, so it’s Camry for everyone.

Why would anyone want such a policy? Democratic decision-​making is appropriate for choosing political leaders. It may be useful for making large public policy decisions that require a single answer. But it’s just silly to let customers vote on whether a menu item should be available to other customers.

Of course, Monsieur Mercuri may be crazy like a fox: his silly vote made the local paper, and NPR, and now this editorial.

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