AIER, Great Barrington – Week 8 – Peter’s Problematic Pies

Micha Gartz

We capped off our final week at AIER with pies. They appeared on Thursday night after we came back from watching “They Shall Not Grow Old” at the cinema with Jeffrey Tucker (who promptly had a slice for dinner).

The four boxes of pies were homemade by AIER’s chef, Peter, to celebrate the departure of the two Australian interns. Jeffrey’s dilemma was this: serve the pies at lunch, when there are 28 staff present, or save them for the six-staff dinner. As President Ed Stringham walked by, Jeffrey asked what he should do. “Serve them at lunch but save some for dinner.” But if four pies were too few for 28 people, then they would certainly be too few to feed 34.

He could buy more pies, but then staff would want to know which were Peter’s pies. Stressing over the dilemma, Jeffrey returned downstairs the next morning for a pie breakfast, to find that two more boxes had magically appeared! There would, after all, be enough pie for all.

Hearing the story later, I couldn’t help but think: if markets allocate resources most efficiently, then the staff would have sorted out the allotment of pie amongst themselves. Not everyone would have wanted a big piece, some might not have had any. Regardless of what could have, should have or would have happened, the market did sort itself: Peter somehow knew that supply wouldn’t meet demand, and provided the extra pies, without being directed to do so.

My time at AIER has been invaluable in teaching me the use of anecdotes to convey ideas. Both Callum and myself had second pieces of work published on our final day.

My final few days were spent in Colorado Springs, visiting the US Air Force Academy. Although I had the flu for most of my time there, I refused to miss seeing the academy or give up international date night with cadet Sparks.