There’s no such thing as a free lunch. That’s the lesson of last Friday’s shopper stampede.
Last week a Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death as bargain-hunters stormed the store. The 34 year-old man was thrown back onto the floor as the crowd surged around and over him.
Such behavior isn’t limited to New Yorkers. In London the furniture store Ikea had to close just after opening when 6000 shoppers forced their way in. The chain had offered 90% discounts on leather sofas. Similar incidents have happened in Tokyo and elsewhere.
Free items are never free. Most of us use the “free” roads, and we endure traffic jams and potholes as a result. Parents place their children in “free” schools and pay for the privilege via the housing market. The better the school, the higher the local property values.
This is not to say that government services should be eliminated. But we should charge for them, and provide assistance to those who need help. That trusts people to make their own choices, though. Not a popular approach, today.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
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