Free riding on the free market

It is very easy to free ride on the existence of markets themselves. I do it all the time when I go shopping.

My wife will ask me, "How much were the strawberries?"

"I have no idea."

"What? You didn't even check?"

"No: I trusted the free market."

In other words, when shopping, I often simply assume that prices are "right." If there were serious mispricing, the people who cut out 25 cent coupons and save them for weeks, and then take ten of them out of their purse at the checkout line, those people will have already spotted it. Thanks to them, I can simply pick up whatever items I want off the shelf and assume that I am paying roughly the "fair" price.


  1. Thank you for making my groceries cheaper! They are called sales and it is being opportunistic.

    1. I wish I had even a vague idea of what you are talking about!

  2. Tangent, but prices are so much lower in Chinatown:

    Perhaps the prices you pay are only "right" in a local context: a particular quality of good in a particular place. And we are conditioned to make our decisions within that context. I suspect that many of my neighbors I see buying produce at Whole Foods would instead pay a quarter of the price for lower-quality-but-still-decent produce at the Mexican market down the street if they truly considered it an option.


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