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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/14033/horizontal-diversity-vertical-diversity-and-a-sense-of-place/

Horizontal Diversity, Vertical Diversity, and a Sense of Place

September 27, 2010 by

I had Skyline Chili for dinner this evening for the first time in years. My co-author Robert Lawson–our paper “Human Rights and Economic Liberalization” is here–had sent me a couple of cans of Skyline chili, spaghetti, and red beans as one fo the conditions of a bet we had made: his Cincinnati Reds won the NL Central, but my St. Louis Cardinals won the season series, and it was also a gesture of magnanimity on his part. Now, I’m sitting at Starbucks and thinking about how much I wish Memphis had the following food franchises: Skyline Chili, Five Guys Burgers, In-N-Out Burger, Milo’s, and Tim Horton’s. Anti-chain activists would no doubt decry the loss of horizontal diversity as Memphis would start to look like Anywhere, USA, but I think we’re really losing out when we turn our noses up at the depth of experiences we could enjoy with greater market integration. As Virginia Postrel has written, it’s true that places start to look alike as markets integrate more completely, but that “alike” features a greater depth of possible experiences. It’s true that I’m not going to lose much sleep over the fact that I can’t usually get Skyline Chili in Memphis–indeed, I might lose sleep because I had it for dinner. When you add up all the margins on which greater market integration is thwarted, the difference between where we are and where we could be is substantial.

{ 9 comments }

Stephen Adkins September 27, 2010 at 8:24 pm

In-n-out may be coming this way before too long. I’m sure it’ll explode in Texas. Better than Whataburger, by far!

http://sidedish.dmagazine.com/2010/05/24/first-in-n-out-burger-in-texas-is-approved-for-garland/

Bruce Koerber September 27, 2010 at 9:35 pm

“Anti-chain activists would no doubt decry the loss of horizontal diversity as Memphis would start to look like Anywhere, USA, but I think we’re really losing out when we turn our noses up at the depth of experiences we could enjoy with greater market integration.”

As individuals they have the choice to not go to a chain but if their ego convinces them that they know what is best for others too, then they are having vain imaginings. Absent some State apparatus to empower the ego-driven they will be limited to minding their own business!

Yorkie September 28, 2010 at 12:30 am

There’s a Five Guys 150 yards from my house. It’s way better than the food on Amtrak.

Horst Muhlmann September 28, 2010 at 11:24 am

You could have replaced “Five Guys” with “rat poison factory” and your sentence would still be accurate.

J. Murray September 29, 2010 at 5:41 am

It’s not that bad. The Amtrak food doesn’t kill you…immediately. You at least survive a little while, enough to get your affairs in order. The rat poison doesn’t give you enough time to fill out a will.

J. Murray September 28, 2010 at 5:41 am

Memphis, I always dreaded my week long training sessions there.

Robert September 28, 2010 at 7:24 am

“It’s true that places start to look alike as markets integrate more completely, but that “alike” features a greater depth of possible experiences”. Very often the fear of something unknown and new experiences restrain us from taking bold steps and limit the chances to move forward. You can argue whether integration and globalization are beneficial or not but one fact cannot be denied: Integration brings people together and helps to prevent potential conflicts at local and global level.

Michael A. Clem September 28, 2010 at 8:25 am

Local anti-chain restrictions tend to just ensure that only the biggest chains and the most subsidized local places survive. The diversity of smaller chains and weaker local places is lost. Far from preventing uniform similarity, the laws perversely minimize diversity.

Bob Lawson September 28, 2010 at 9:46 am

Glad you enjoyed the Skyline!

Tyler Cowen put it best in (I think) his book, In Praise of Commercial Culture. I paraphrase: 30 years ago you could get great French food in Paris but not Chinese food. Likewise you could get great Chinese food in Beijing but not French. Today you can get both great French food AND great Chinese food in both cities. So Paris and Beijing are much more “alike” than before, but they are alike in the sense that they both have more diversity than before.

Go Reds!

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