Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cyber Madness

I am looking at a Staples ad sent me this morning. It says:

Cyber Monday Event
Starts Sunday!

Black Friday was really Black Thursday. Now Cyber Monday is on Sunday. I’m not, by the way, trying to single out Staples for scorn. It’s the same all over. Every seller has drunk the poisoned water. They’ve all gone mad.

Staples’ promotion is centered on laser toner, more specifically on Hewlett-Packard toner. It happens that I use that product. So let me see how good the deal is. Well, I can get $30 off if I buy $200 worth of HP toner—or $20 off if I spend $150. The toner I use costs, at Staples, $109.99. In either case I’d have to buy two cartridges to get a discount. But a cartridge lasts me several months, so why bother? And the discount is relatively small, 13.6 percent ($30 off $219.98). Toner is supposed to have a limited shelf life, but I don’t know how long that is. In effect I’d be taking a chance storing one for a long time for a relatively small discount.

The whole premise of the modern economy is to sell consumers more than they need. To have a rosy future, we must over-consume. Systematically promoting that is madness.

It’s strange to live in a culture the core premise of which is systematic undermining of rational frugality. 

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