Letters: Dynamic pricing, education reform

Letters in a computer with red mailbox flag

Kai Ryssdal: Remember the last time you bought a plane ticket and how much it costs? How airlines come to determine the price of that ticket is called Dynamic Pricing, an algorithm-type thing that tells them when to charge what for which seat. Our man from Silicon valley, Steve Henn, did a piece last week that explained all that, and he said other industries are beginning to use the same method to price whatever they sell.

Which sounds fine and all, but Evelyn Kiresen from Boca Raton, Fla., thinks it smacks of a bad deal. "Dynamic pricing," she writes, "is no more or less than a 21th century form of haggling. It is unfair, immoral and should be outlawed. It shows the true degenerate nature of unregulated capitalism."

We mentioned the Justice Department last week and its spendthrift ways. A recent audit had found the D.O.J. has been paying way too much for food at conferences, like $32-a-head for Cracker Jacks or $16 for a muffin.

From Washington D.C., Daniel Glucksman wrote to say: please hold the outrage.

Daniel Glucksman: Sixteen dollars for a continental breakfast is not uncommon. In fact, it's actually a pretty good deal. Because on top of that, we also pay gratuity -- usually 22 percent -- and then tax on top of that. Want a filet mignon for dinner? That's about $70. Now you know why attending a conference sometimes costs $1,000 -- it's all in the food.

Mr. Glucksman comes by his knowledge honestly -- he is, for a living, an event planner.

And finally, we got a lot of comments for an interview we ran on education reform with New York University professor Diane Ravitch last week. In a nutshell, she said, don't just blame teachers for bad grades -- parents have something to do with it too.

Gillian Saito from Oak Park, Ill., says, sure, but, also important: "Is the support the faculty and administration gives the teachers -- seminars, training."

And that's it. Got a comment? You know what to do by now.

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