Tag Archives: proportionality

Bring out the big guns

Perhaps some of you have heard of the Harvard Business Professor, Ben Edelman, who went to war over a four dollar overcharge.  If not, here’s the story (from Boston.com):

Last week, Edelman ordered what he thought was $53.35 worth of Chinese food from Sichuan Garden’s Brookline Village location.

Edelman soon came to the horrifying realization that he had been overcharged. By a total of $4.

If you’ve ever wondered what happens when a Harvard Business School professor thinks a family-run Chinese restaurant screwed him out of $4, you’re about to find out.

(Hint: It involves invocation of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Statute and multiple threats of legal action.)

Read the rest, it’s hilarious (and not the first time this guy did this).

This raises a lot of questions, one of which is whether he needed all of that argument to make that point.  Let’s presume, for the sake of our own  argument, that he’s not wrong.  It’s clearly not worth his time to complain.  But maybe a word or two to point out the restaurant’s error.

Nonetheless, even granted the correctness of his claim, the over sized argument (again, however correct) makes me wonder what the nature of the injustice of argumentative disproportionality is.  He just doesn’t need that much argument to make his case.

This reminds me of a talk I once saw where the speaker brought out the theoretical big guns in order to explain (and reject I guess) the garden variety racism of some local politician.  Yes, you can use Foucault to do that, but do you really need that much?