Thursday, November 7, 2013

Ice Cream Sandwiches and Valuing Your Life

A title that might have raised some eyebrows. This blog has basically two sides. A humorous and a serious side. Let's go with the funny part first

Ice-Cream Sandwiches
Yep, two cookies and a scoop of ice-cream in the middle. Its like wrapping a hotdog in bacon (ok, Americans do that), or deep frying butter (well, Americans also do that). Anyway... It's a pretty cool thing and something I haven't really seen before. I came across this ground-breaking Silicon Valleyesqe invention during an Ice Cream tasting with a bunch of friends in Palo Alto. Due to the fact that there really aren't that many entertainment options we brought ten different toppings (nuts, white chocolate, dark chocolate, marshmallows, gummibears, crackers, etc etc) and tasted ice cream at three different places. Interestingly we didn't even try all the ice cream places in Palo Alto with this. Luckily, we were patient enough to wait in line 30 minutes to get into CREAM. Since Americans like things on the extreme side this is the place-to-be where you can get almond-spiced-vanilla ice cream in a macadamia-nut-brittle-and-white-chocolate cookie. All super organic of course!

I am worth more than your stupid, uneducated grandparents!
In my Business Ethics class our professor made us think through a case study about a company selling one-room heaters in California. Those heaters are dangerous to operate and can cause casualties if no additional safety measures are installed. Those measures are costly to install and the company is evaluating as to whether it makes sense to include the additional safety mechanisms or to risk law suits by people that might get injured or even killed.

Some people might now already object that it is unethical to put a value on a person's life. Up to this point one can argue that we do that all the time and quite often even to ourselves. When you drink and ride your bike you are putting a value on your live and on the probability of hitting a car compared to the inconvenience of waiting for a taxi.

In the heater example, if you with you and your company are targeting an upscale market with financial resources, you are more likely to instal safety measures than when you are targeting a low-income markets. Why is that? Well, if your customer has money he or his family is more likely to (successfully) sue you, so the additional safety measures you would include have to be more expensive than when you target low-income customers that will not be able to sue you in case of an accident.

To sum it up: Rich, educated and young people will get higher quality products than old, poor and uneducated people because the live of the rich executive's son is worth much more than of the life of a simple nurse's mother.

I do not want to judge this thinking, but hope to provide some food for thought for some of you.

And to finish off with another good thing: Stanford just bear Oregon in Football.

Cheers + bis bald,

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