Joyce Carol Oates Attacks David Brooks Over Airport Food Prices in Ultimate Collision of New York Times Reader Interests

A side-by-side of Joyce Carol Oates and David Brooks, with a cascading pile of fries and ketchup between them.
Photo illustration by Walter McBride/Getty Images, William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC Newswire/NBCUniversal via Getty Images, and Getty Images Plus.
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Here’s some information you’ll need to understand Thursday’s most urgent news story:

OK. Now we’re ready for The Tweets™️. First, Mr. Brooks’:

Next, Ms. Carol Oates’:

Pretty good. According to other internet sleuths, JCO may not be far off, in that it appears Brooks’ burger cost $17, and that is a pretty hilariously large glass of whiskey. I mean, really, it’s an enormous pour of whiskey. (We cannot confirm her speculation about the tip.)

In Brooks’ defense, airport food is indeed overpriced, and there’s something uncanny about what’s happened to it in the past 10 to 15 years. Vendors are selling the same reheated, catering-quality dog food they sold before, but at a higher price, under the imprimatur of a boutique brand (or made-up boutique brand created as an excuse to raise prices). It almost, but not quite, makes you want to go back to the time when the only option was Burger King.

Ugh. Burger King!

Predatory airport pricing, though, predates Biden-era inflation. One might argue, as such, that the problem being demonstrated is in fact the incentive for firms in a relatively unregulated economy to engage in “rent-seeking,” i.e., creating captive markets in which they can remain profitable without innovating or offering quality products simply because their customers have no other options. What really might be bothering fiscally conservative University of Chicago graduate David Brooks, in other words, is the taste of capitalism.