Economics Is Hard


I’m a big fan of our consumer society; to me, it’s a no-brainer.  Ever since the Phoenicians discovered that people were willing to trade silver for a useless purple dye, the obscene amounts of cash produced by conspicuous consumption have propelled our world.  Today, we live in a benevolent society because we generate enough coin to pay for it.  In fact, our society is so benevolent tons of people (including me) can earn money from just bitchin’ about it!  The thing is though, since buying crap is so fundamental to our world’s well-being, one would think we’d treat the whole business with the care and consideration it deserves — but we don’t.  In fact, we go about it in such a dysfunctional fashion it’s a wonder we’re not still riding donkeys and grinding our own flour.

Let me show you what I mean:

Watch people buy clothes sometime.  Is it the right colour?  Is it the right style?  Is it too short?  Is it too long?  Is it on sale?  Do they have it across the street?  Does it come in beige?  Can I get it in tweed?  How do I wash it?  Does it match my eyes?  Does it make my ass look fat?  And this goes on for hours, sometimes days, even weeks — before we whip out the credit card.  Here’s the deal, folks: clothes are transient.  When we’re young, we outgrow them; when we’re old, we outlive them. The truth is, 90% of all the clothes we buy eventually just end up in the back of the closet, waiting for the next charity to come along.

On the other hand:

We spend a third of our life in bed, doing various activities — excuse me! — sleeping, reading, watching TV.  And how do we buy a bed?  We sit on the edge of it and maybe bounce our bums a couple of times.  Perhaps we lie down (fully clothed, flat on our back) to see how it “feels.”  Now, how the hell can you tell how a mattress “feels,” lying there like a sarcophagus?  You can’t!  Yet nobody shows up at a store with a pillow and their pjs and says, “I’d like to test-drive that blue one over in the corner.  Could you dim the lights and come by in a couple of hours and give me a shake?”  On average, before they buy it, people spend less than 8 minutes of full body contact with the most essential piece of furniture they’re ever going to own.  8 minutes?  I can’t even fall asleep in 8 minutes!

So what have we learned?  People are illogical, their buying habits are stupid, and anyone who says they understand economics is lying.

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