Monday, April 29, 2019

The value of scarcity

You know, I find myself at odds with what most people seem to think. ('So what else is new?' you ask? It never strikes you to ask yourself that when you trot out your political or social views ad nauseam, does it? So, why me?) I mean, people seem to feel that more of anything is a good thing and scarcity is some sort of evil plague to be rid off...and I, somehow, do not completely agree.

A part of the problem is this pesky education which pushed my face into some truly odd stories. Like this one which was excerpted in my English lessons.

Tom Sawyer is asked to whitewash the fence as a punishment. When his friends come around, Tom acts as though he loved the idea of whitewashing the fence and was granted the privilege by his aunt with great difficulty. And was pestered by his friends to allow them to do a bit of whitewashing, which he reluctantly grants after being bribed by them with apples, marbles and what have you.

By which, Mark Twain actually seems to indicate that making something appear scarce is the best way to make it seem desirable. And, of course, he is right. Go around checking for all the products which are sold at ludicrously high prices and if you do not see an the aura of 'exclusive' hanging around it, I'll eat my hat. (I don't have one, yes, so what, you literal *#$@). And 'exclusive' is just another way of saying 'scarce' cos it essentially means 'not everyone can lay hands on this'.

Yeah, true, most of such products essentially are as desirable as getting to whitewash a fence though, in real life, you 'whitewash fences' in a different place in order to be able to afford these 'scarce goods',  but if the same thing were freely available to everyone, you may not even want the dratted thing. In other words, in quite a lot of these things you pay through the nose for the 'scarcity' and not the product or service itself, because THAT is what makes it seem worth that astronomical price.

Not to mention that, even where you work, you are lead by the nose by the same 'scarcity' thing. As in, they say "These meetings are highly confidential and only select people can attend" and you bust your ass working fifteen hour days, weekends thrown in, so that you can be one of those 'select' people...and then earn the privilege of working eighteen hour days with the annual vacation gone bust as well. (No? I mean, I did put it rather crassly but what exactly is a Board, a Cabinet, whatever, but a talk-fest which has 'scarcity' value?)

Plenty is all too nice to contemplate but it is scarcity that really has value. If everyone had everything, nobody would really appreciate anything. And then you feel the need to keep running after pie in the sky because the pie on the table seems so boring. You need to be deprived of something before you see value in it. If pie on the table were relatively scarce, you will not get a crick in the neck drooling at that pie you think is there in the sky. 

Let there be scarcity, then. Not so much that you starve, but enough so you appreciate what you get.


  1. They tell me that the early bird catches the worm and they also tell me that a bird in hand is worth two in the bush ... Now what am i supposed to do i wonder ! :D

    1. Catch that early bird which catches the worm. Then you will have a bird in hand, so stop worrying about the two in the bush.😀

  2. Let's change our view so that you will be content.
    You have conveyed this message in an easily comprehensible manner

  3. You need to be deprived of something before you see value in it.
    Excellent as always!

  4. Scarcity and deprivation..... True, these do help one to identify the value of someone or something which otherwise we take for granted....everyone must have experienced this

    Death is one such which makes people realise the value of the one who died...a most common experience, alas, wish people found out the value before their loved ones died, world would be a better place!!! :(

    1. Alas, we realise the beauty and importance of almost everything only when we lose it.