Friday, March 5, 2010

Dollars and Saints

Sean Payton is the head coach of the Super Bowl-champion New Orleans Saints. The Saints are known for their high-powered offense, but few know that their best play this year was made by Sean Payton, before the season even began. Payton gave away $250,000 of his salary so that the Saints would have the funds necessary to sign defensive specialist Gregg Williams. We seldom hear of such sacrifice, but it's actually commonplace; sacrifice is necessary for success in competition.

Payton's goal was to win the Super Bowl. Forced to compete, he had to generate the best possible team with limited salary money. Instead of keeping the $250,000 for himself, Payton improved his team by using the money to acquire Gregg Williams. Williams revamped the team's defense, bringing victory to the Saints and prosperity to the city of New Orleans.

In capitalism, entrepreneurs and executives must compete to attract customers. A company attracts customers only if the price of its service is as low as possible. Low prices are possible only if production costs are low, meaning that resources are allocated efficiently. For example, say that Comcast can more efficiently provide the same Internet service that Verizon provides. If so, then Comcast will attract customers by offering prices lower than Verizon's. Comcast will turn a profit, which is great not only for Comcast, but for the entire country! People will get Internet service more cheaply, and will have extra money to be spent in other industries, which ultimately helps people who don't have Internet service at all.

Success in competition requires an efficient allocation of resources, thus competitors are compelled to sacrifice. In the end, Sean Payton profited from his sacrifice. Instead of equating profit with greed, we should commend risk takers like Payton for trying in the first place, for profits benefit not only the risk takers, but everyone who's counting on them. Just ask anyone on Bourbon Street.