If you had his attention for an hour (via Skype), what would you ask Gary Becker, Nobel Laureate, and one of the most respected economists in the world?
Think you could get $5,000 worth of value out of it?
That's Becker's hourly rate on Expert Insight a new website that lets everyday folk pay for an hour of Skype time with an "experts" from just about any field. Along with consultants of Becker's intellectual heft, you can find the Darwinian dating coach ($620/hr), an ex-call girl-cum-novelist ($750/hr), a slew of pro poker players ($100 and up), and a mish-mash of others.
The top chargers are, unsurprisingly, the well-known economists, like Steven Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics, whose rate is "call for quote" or as he told NY Magazine, "The amount I would charge is so outrageously high I worry people would think badly of me. I have four young children, and I like to play golf. I would have to charge a really high price to make it worth my time." He explains that he gets "disutility out of talking to other people" so he needs fair compensation.
The highest hourly rate listed on the site right now, however, is not for an economist. It's $6,000 for pro-poker player Patrik Antonius.
None of these prices, of course, compare with the cost of a chat with the oracle of Omaha. The privilege of having lunch with Warren Buffett drew $2.63 million in a charity auction recently. In that context, maybe $5,000 for a Nobel Laureate is a bargain. Becker has two hours free this Friday, if you're interested.