Blogs » J.Q. Tomanek of Victoria » The person without knowledge knows exactly what he needs

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This always leads to disaster. I cannot read minds and cannot see through a pantry door. We are probably similar to most households in that we make a weekly shopping trip to a food market. Have you ever left the house without a list and without looking into the food closet, freezer, or refrigerator? Have you noticed that when you get to the market that you buy things that you don’t need? You get to the checkout, items go on the belt, the beeping doesn’t stop, you glance over at the total and to your surprise the cost is about $100 more than you intended. You look over the crap you bought and to your next surprise you cower at the thought of telling the checker to just remove $100 of groceries from the stack. You peer over the line of zombies behind you, each with $100 more of junk that needed. You wonder what would go through their mind if you started pulling items out of the plastic bags and ask the register person to remove them from the bill. You get home and cannot believe it has taken 30 minutes to put the piles of stuff away. Of course, you remind yourself to throw the receipt away before your spouse sees the total.

If this hasn’t happened to you, I think you have like 8th dimension humanoid psychic power.

Of course, the other side of the coin may happen. You leave the house without the appropriate list of needed foods and you under buy. You stroll the isles and convince yourself that you are going to spend under budget. You pass the ice cream section with pride as you stick your nose up at the temptation to fill your gut with Snicker’s ice cream bars or Breyers Cookies and Cream. You shoot a mental finger at the isle with all the cakes and pastries that are overpriced and likely filled with super tasty goodness. You get to the fish counter and order only tilapia and catfish and give yourself a proletarian pat on the back for not giving into the mouthwatering potential of jumbo shrimp that the person next to you is ordering. In the “I am doing this cheap today” attitude, you buy pass the fruit, vegetables, and meats section. You push the cart away from the bacon and yogurts. You get to “20 Items or less” line and self-congratulatory invisible cheerleaders start pom-pomming and the lyrics of Queen can be heard coming from nowhere. Heck, you even start to walk away from the checkout convinced you are a saint for not giving into your thirst for a generic pop or over-sugared fresh and natural tea that somehow can be shelved for six months.

You get home and start unpacking the front seat. A prize of such deserves the front rather than the trunk. You walk around the car, grab all the bags with one hand, and triumphantly meander to the kitchen. You begin to unpack and it only takes a few minutes. You leave the receipt on the counter in hopeful speculation that your spouse will find it and give you a vote of confidence to blow up your already swelled ego. The week rolls on and you begin cooking those three meals each day. By Tuesday, you realize that you needed spices, more meat, more, more, more, more, more. You have extinguished your food supplies and you consider making Kraft Mac-n-Cheese with hot dog meat that is already opened in the meat tray. You think the meat is still good. It looks and smells fine though it has been sitting there since last July 4th. The next day you go out to eat. Followed by ordering to go the next day. The third day, you call in a delivery. By the end of the week, you don’t even want to check the bank account because you know that you spent more than the week before when you over-bought.

Both of these, the gluttonous over spending and the minimalist under paying that leads to even more over-spending, could have been avoided if a few minutes of study would have been done. You could have made a simple list of needed items, created a meal plan, and walked into the store and bought exactly what was needed for a week of nourishment.

Is there a moral of the story? Yes. It is a simple economic lesson. The over-buying and over-saving are examples of markets affected when the true demand (what is actually necessary) is unknown. To discover the unknown need, the free person must be able to demand what he knows he must have.