If you haven’t already, do read Gene Weingarten’s superb feature in the Washington Post, “Pearls Before Breakfast,” which details an excellent little experiment the Post carried out. The story begins thus:
He emerged from the metro at the L’Enfant Plaza station and positioned himself against a wall beside a trash basket. By most measures, he was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money, swiveled it to face pedestrian traffic, and began to play.
It was 7:51 a.m. on Friday, January 12, the middle of the morning rush hour. In the next 43 minutes, as the violinist performed six classical pieces, 1,097 people passed by. Almost all of them were on the way to work…
What is extraordinary is that the musician was Joshua Bell, one of the most renowned classical violinists in the world. Playing “some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made” on a 1713 Stradivarius, Bell made $32.17. It’s a fascinating story, wonderfully told, read the full thing.
And also, check out this follow-up story by Weingarten that has much chat between him and readers who reacted to the story, as well as “something enlightening about the nature of government bureaucracy versus private industry”, also neatly excerpted by The Mises Blog.