Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy price gouging day!

Someone once said that Al Capone was the only person to celebrate Valentine's Day properly. After shelling out untold dollars for flowers and candy, I'm sure a lot of us guys feel the same way. Never mind a Senate investigation into Big Oil: year after year, and always reliably, Big Florists engage in the most despicable form of price gouging!

Hmm. Is it really price gouging? After all, it's quite a huge increase in demand, and though the high prices encourage a greater supply (and others to leave their own endeavors to get into the act), growers can plant only so many roses that will be suitably mature by mid-February. As I wrote last August, putting the price of oil in another perspective:
Then there's what most of my fellow gentlemen and I have cursed as the worst form of alleged price gouging: the price of roses leading up to Valentine's Day. But for the reasons above, we can't really complain, especially in terms of minimizing search costs. Higher prices prevent someone from buying out a store's stock of roses because they're only $10 per dozen, when the rest of us would have gladly paid more. I've done my duty and have spent well over $100 for an arrangement of a dozen roses, because at the time I thought they (and she) were worth it. This year I got off fairly easily.
When demand exceeds supply, and prices are allowed to rise, they will gravitate toward a market clearing price. That way there is enough of the scarce resource for those who are willing to pay for it. And as I explained in that entry, high prices greatly reduce (if not eliminate) search costs, because if roses are going for $10 or even $20 per dozen, men will demand far more roses than are available. Thus they will waste a great deal of time in fruitless searches.

Besides, when you're really head over heels for someone, it's worthwhile, or at least it seems that way when you open your wallet, to shell out a C-note and more for a mere dozen roses, arranged and delivered. Now that I mention that, I really feel "spared" this year, because I got off completely. With no real prospects for a date, I thought about asking friends to set me up on a blind one. However, blind dates aren't my style, and besides, that would be a date just for the sake of having a date. Still, no sense not getting into the spirit of things, because I like to wear colors to reflect special days. I rarely wear red, and my only red tie is a little decrepit, so I went shopping last night for a new one. It goes well with the black suit I chose to wear today.

And I must admit, it was quite pleasant at lunchtime to have the extraordinarily fetching cashier at the office cafeteria smile and wish me, "Happy Valentine's Day!" Sometimes it's just the simple things in life.

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