Food trucks

http://johnsonmatel.com/2014/September/Smithsonian03/Food_trucks.jpg

Food trucks were just starting to show up when I left Washington only a little more than three years ago and most of those were the cheap hot dog stand variety.  They are thick as flies these days, with sophisticated presentations and complicated menus.  They definitely fill a need.  But they present a kind of urban ecological challenge.

The food trucks are like vines.  They don’t build or maintain their own support, but rather depend on what has been built by others and eventually can smother the creators.  They can grow fast and prosper since need not maintain seating, bathrooms or other amenities.  They can pull up or out when conditions warrants.  In other words, they can skim off the best and make a hasty exit when get out when the going gets tough. It is very advantageous.  That is why they can offer lower prices and/or make higher profits.

It is a little counter intuitive.  We want to root for the little guy and certainly we respect their initiative.  But some of these are not really little guys or particularly innovative.

Generally speaking, I am in favor of free enterprise.  But any system of free enterprise has the free rider challenge, with people hopping on the wagon instead of helping pull it.

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