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January 26 2018

The Problem with the Viral "Whopper Neutrality" Video

by Hadley Heath

Have you seen the video floating around Facebook comparing the repeal of Net Neutrality (a set of FCC regulations on the internet) to a world were Whoppers cost $26? Yes, it's absurd. 

You can watch it here. 

Customers (presumably real customers getting punk'd) respond in shock as Burger King employees explain a new (fake) policy to charge more for "fast" Whoppers" and less for "slow" Whoppers. The suggestion is that, absent Net Neutrality, internet providers will jack up prices for any decent speed of internet, leaving customers stuck with two bad options: pay a ton for fast internet, or suffer the slowness. 

Burger King forgot one minor detail: McDonald's. Well, not McDonald's specifically, but the concept of market competition. Any of the irate customers in the video could easily go across the street to a different fast food restaurant and get truly *fast* food without the annoyance of a waiting time (and without getting filmed for a lousy piece of propaganda, too).

Obviously, there's no current law in place preventing Burger King from doing exactly what they demonstrated in their video. But they would never do something like this -- not for lack of regulation -- but because competition is the best consumer protection in the whole world. If fast food providers wanted to create a pricing model based on wait time (and they are free to do so!), they would do so... but only if this model was profitable. It's more likely that a competitor would simply make everyone's food really fast at low prices, effectively undercutting the place with bad time-pricing idea. 

Competition among internet companies may not be as robust today as competition among fast food chains (which have to be one of the easiest examples of market competition, with close substitute goods... except for Chik-Fil-A nuggets... say what you will but the world is deprived on Sundays!) But this is acutally an argument against Net Neutrality, which limits competition and resulted in a slowdown in the creation of new services and broadband investment between 2015 and 2017. Here's to a freer internet in the future! 

Way to wade into a political issue and totally botch it, Burger King. Ironically, the most appropriate word for this video's misleading message is... "Whopper."

IIndependent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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