Monday, December 8, 2008

Tee Vee Eye on Me(gan)

Here, Ms. McArdle finds herself inspired by Ta-Nehisi Coates, who wasn't typing about anything funny, but the humor kicks in immediately at Asymmetrical Info:

Being that I have recently purchased a car, lost half my retirement savings, and rented a house, I feel poor right now.  And yet, like the rest of America, I am feeling the powerful lure of the ridiculous sales our nation's merchants are putting on. 
"Oh, I feel a bit faint...&...&...what is this feeling? Poverty? I'm pooooor? Oooooh..." Fortunately, it's all feelings, it will pass & the unsinkable Megatron will survive to retire.

Perhaps w/ yet another television set, which seems to be the entirety of the consumer desires manipulated w/in her & T. C. by the merchant classes.
Between the two of us, we already have five televisions (including one that, bizarrely, comes with the house, being affixed to the bathroom ceiling.  No, I'm not kidding.)  But they're SOOOOOOOOOOOOO cheap!!!
I'd feel poor too, w/ a mere five sets. Now, please stand aside, here's the "econoblogging."
The problem with this is that utility is a relative, not an absolute.   The market price is (sort of) an average of the item's utility, not a measure of its utility to you.  For us, the utility of another flat screen television is almost certainly less than almost anything else we'd spend the $400 on.  We didn't get the television.  But I still feel kind of like I'm missing out.

But you can't base an economy on this feeling (though Lord knows, we've tried!)  I'm sure all the bargains and loss leaders are generating some consumer spending.  But I'm still willing to bet that most retailers will report horrific margins and a terrible year for profits.
You can't base an economy on this feeling? It worked so well for so long on so many consumerist sheep, Megan. Like the one in your mirror. You can still barely keep your wallet in your pants, "feeling poor" or not. 

And while I, a partially home-schooled, multi-college drop-out & auto-didact have managed never to take an economics class, or read anything on the subject deeper than a book review, I'm still willing to bet that what Ms. McA. typed above is about as simple as it gets. We thank The Atlantic for keeping it on our level.

1 comment:

Andrew Johnston said...

The more I read about Megan's mindless quests to acquire, the more I think that her lack of impulse control is be as much a problem as her egomania. Combine that with her thin skin and complete lack of perspective and the only conclusion I can reach is that the Atlantic could save a lot of money by letting a typical 6-year old girl write the blog.