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Home | Blog | Biting the (Penguin) Hand that Feeds You

Biting the (Penguin) Hand that Feeds You


“They’re a damn nuisance, they are,” offered the man as we walked toward a group of tourists excitedly shooting pictures of two African Penguins standing silently in a drain pipe.

A nuisance? We were among dozens of tourists from all over the world walking toward the Boulders in Simon’s Town to see–the Boulder Colony of African Penguins.

The Simon’s Town local is certainly entitled to his opinion, but as he told us, “If you come to look at them once in your life, they’re cute. But if you live here, they’re noisy, stinky pests,” he was standing in front of a gelato cone stand (single scoop 20 Rand, double 25) located in what looked to be his backyard.

Now it’s possible he and his wife could sell a cone or two without these “pests,” but it’s doubtful. All day long, visitors walk down the residential street to The Boulders to see the cute little penguins.

The penguins make enough noise to be also known as Jackass Penguins, but anyone making a few rand from people going to see them, shouldn’t resent the cute little birds. After all, no one is walking down that street to see he and his wife.

However, the guy reminded me of Las Vegas locals who constantly complain about the tourists who come to Sin City, spend their money, and drive the economy. During the Comdex convention, Las Vegas locals complain about computer geeks. During the National Finals Rodeo, the cowboys are ridiculed by locals. And so on.

Perhaps the cone curmudgeon honestly believes that it’s the quality of his gelato that is driving his traffic, but it’s not. He had the entrepreneurial chutzpah to recognize the needs of customers walking by his house. He should remember what brings the customers to him.

Douglas French is former president of the Mises Institute, author of Early Speculative Bubbles & Increases in the Money Supply , and author of Walk Away: The Rise and Fall of the Home-Ownership Myth. He received his master's degree in economics from UNLV, studying under both Professor Murray Rothbard and Professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe.

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