While surveying Heaven’s infinite landscape, St Peter comes upon the Pearly Gates. Billions have come through, and the Gates need repairs. When the next contractor arrives, St Peter seizes the moment. “Hey fella, sorry you fell off that ladder! While you’re here, would you mind taking a look at those Gates and give me an idea of what it would cost to fix them up?” “Sure,” the young lad replies eagerly, “I’d be happy to.” He then spends a great deal of time documenting the state of the Gates, and outlining everything that has to be done. “About $300, St Peter,” he says. “That’s $100 in labor, $100 in materials, and $100 in profit and overhead.” “Ok,” replies St Peter, “but I do want to get a few more estimates. I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.”
Then the next contractor arrives at the Gates. A bit older, licensed, and more experienced, he doesn’t need much time to explore the needed repairs. “Right around $600, St Peter,” he exclaims. “That’s $200 in labor, $200 for materials, and $200 for profit and overhead.”
And then came an old, wise contractor who’d died simply of old age. He didn’t even look at the Gates. “Right around nine-hundred ducats,” he quips. “Whoa Nelly,” gasped St Peter, “that’s three times more than the lowest estimate. How do you figure?” “Easy!,” the old-timer responded, “It’s $300 for you, $300 for me, and we’ll sub it out to the first guy!”
And that, my dear readers, is how business is done.