Tuesday, March 15, 2005

On Caneblades and Economic Theory

While walking to work this morning, I was thinking about the old man who used his caneblade to stab a rowdy homeless man about a month or so ago in my neighborhood. And it got me wonderin'.

This guy probably put a good deal of thought, time and money into his caneblade investment. Enough so, where it was probably frustrating him just a little bit that he hadn't gotten a chance to use it yet.

So part of his motive in stabbing the homeless guy-- deep in the back of his subconscious or something -- part of his mind must've been telling him, "Hey even though you probably don't have to use your caneblade right now, you might as well. That way, at least you'll justify having bought it."

I guess what I'm saying is this: owning something like a caneblade is sort of like having a monthly gym memership, or an unlimited monthly Metrocard. By putting your time and money into it upfront, you trap yourself into feeling obligated to take that extra ride downtown or work out more than you actually want to, just to get your money's worth. So for a moment, on the walk to work today, I guess I kinda sorta understood where that old man mighta been coming from.

Is there an economic/psychological term for that "getting your money's worth" feeling?

Does anyone wanna buy some caneblades and stab hobos with me?


Geoffrey said...

First, yes, absolutely.

Second, I totally know what you mean. That's why it took me so long to transfer over to unlimited use MetroCards. I would've been so angry if I hadn't gotten my money's worth.

Third, I want a caneblade. Well, actually, I want everyone to think I need a cane first, so no one will be suspicious that I have a cane. Then I want a caneblade.

Anonymous said...


The economic terms are "sunk cost"and "loss aversion." You'll be glad to know that according to microeconomic theory, your feelings are irrational.