Thursday, August 14, 2008

Open Door Policy

New York City is strongly considering fining stores that leave their doors open while their air conditioning is running.

Now, obviously, leaving you doors open while you run the air conditioning results in higher electric bills. But why should there be a fine for engaging in a wasteful activity? Shouldn't it be up to the stores to decide how they run their business?

Councilwoman Gale A. Brewer, a co-sponsor of the bill, said, "There's no use cooling the sidewalk." Well, except that it entices people to enter the store. I'm sure the stores feel that leaving the door open is worth it. People walking down the street can just walk right in, without having to negotiate through a heavy door. I'd imagine that more people enter stores with an open door than with a closed door. Obviously, the companies believe this to be the case, since they keep their doors open.

Having more people enter a store means that there are more sales, and thus more profits.

According to the NYC government's website, Ms. Brewer has served on the council since 2002. Prior to this, she's worked almost exclusively in government and non profits, except for working for Telesis Corporation, an organization that builds low income housing (and thus must have significant interaction with government).

So in any event, her private sector experience is extremely limited. Yet now she wants to tell companies how to run their business.

Now suppose my assertion that open doors cause more foot traffic to enter is false. Why should the city council try to force companies to be more efficient? Shouldn't they also pass a bill that fines a company if they employ too many workers, or pay their workers too much? Or if they don't have an optimal phone plan? Or if they aren't securing their inventory from the lowest cost distributor? After all, all those things are wasteful as well.