Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Just How Dumb is Stacy Schiff?
or is she just another NYTimes elitist?

Stacy Schiff writes in the NYTimes (reg. req.) that increasing consumer choice has made us worse off. At least she seems to think more choice is a bad thing when it comes to dental floss and toothpaste.

E. B. White claimed he knew his wife was the girl for him when she referred to dental floss as "tooth twine." I take his point. I also tried to buy "tooth twine" recently. By any name, that is an exercise in frustration, or affluence-induced A.D.D., or option overload. If there is plain old standard issue dental floss out there, it is on the shelf with the all-purpose running shoes and the unadulterated, adjectiveless cup of coffee.
What's her problem? Of course there is plain old dental floss out there. And all-purpose running shoes. And standard cups of coffee. Doesn't she shop at Wal-Mart or go to a local eatery?

Anyway, what's wrong with someone's being able to get a double naked skinny cow [or whatever the jargon is]? I think increased variety and choice are glorious things about our North American affluent economies. She seems to disagree that choice is good:

In taking cluster analysis and its classifications to the logical extreme, are we not building a superfinicky society? Five minutes in any Starbucks line will answer that one. We used to be one nation, undivided, under three networks, three car companies and two brands of toothpaste for all. Today we are the mass niche nation.
And isn't it wonderful that we can indulge our vast variety of tastes? Maybe she would rather have the editorial writers of the NYTimes decide which varieties should be available for us. Or maybe she was just trying to be funny or cute. It didn't work, Stacy.

Speaking of niches, what has happened to Diet Vanilla Coke in cans? I've seen a few of the big 2-litre bottles of the stuff on store shelves and even cellared a couple, but I am totally unable to find it in cans in our area.
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