Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Equation Between Avarice, Human Nature, and Rationality

I was taken aback by the greediness of people, yet it was quite a sight to see.

The “it” mentioned above was the last day of the EXPO Design Center store closing just a few miles north of my home. The high-class home design chain owned by Home Depot has ceased to exist, in what was an outcome made several months ago by the head honchos over at Home Depot Corporate, not least due to the housing bust in the United States.

I got to see firsthand how avaricious people are when prices for everything were 90% off, although, admittedly, there wasn’t too much left. Nonetheless, several people were literally pushing others aside to get their hands on the last granite-something set available. Even things as banal as flowers were purchased with greed and haste.

What struck me most, however, was the fact that much of human nature is contrary to rational thought and sound economic sense, even at prices that are 90% off. This was most obvious when I looked around the check-out line and saw people buying items that most of them would probably never even use. True, several might re-sell them for a slight (or, perhaps, large) profit, but I assume maybe only one-third would do that, at the most.

Indeed, there are hundreds of people buying items that they are unlikely to use as gifts, since many are model displays, big household products, or simply exotic items. Even at 90% off, what is the point of buying something that one does not like?

Just to get a moral high for scoring such a bargain? Or because almost everyone else is doing that? This is an especially poignant question during an economic recession.

Any thoughts?
P.S. For any of you wondering what I was doing at the check-out line, I was simply buying a plastic surface spray. Nothing quite as cool as the head sculptures or faucets that I saw other people buying.

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