Tag Archives: profit

Confronting our Agoraphobia, Part III: The Long Road Back

(This is part 3 of a series that started with Confronting Agoraphobia, Part I: Carefully Taught and Confronting our Agoraphobia Part II: The Bad Guys are Winning.)

Where We’ve Been

Over the past two entries in this series we’ve reviewed how bargaining has gone from common to rare, and how shopping in America has become a passive experience. We’ve discussed how the evolution of marketing and discounting have consolidated the power of pricing entirely in the hands of the manufacturers. We’ve discussed the potential gain from choosing to haggle – a peak negotiator saved $2500 in a year. That means an average negotiator could save about $1500. What we haven’t discussed is how to work our way back to an even distribution of power.

Let me expand on that number a bit. $1500 saved per person, per year. 206 million adults in the United States, give or take a hundred thousand or so.[1] Roughly 10% of them are incarcerated.[2] If the rest of them saved $1500 per year, that would total $278.2 Billion saved. Annually. (That’s about 2x the annual revenue of Wal-Mart as reported to the NYSE,[3] or, sadly, just 1.7% of the national debt at this moment.[4])

Let’s have one more quote to get things moving forward:

“A recent Consumer Reports survey showed only 28 percent of Americans haggle over prices. A separate report from market research firm BIGresearch found 45.1 percent of adults haggle for things other than cars and homes.

However, the Consumer Reports survey found that consumers who haggle succeed as often as 83 percent of the time in landing a better bargain.”

— Yuki Noguchi, “Haggling picks up steam during recession,” NPR.org, August 2009.

 

(more…)

  1. [1]Wolfram alpha: What is the adult population of North America, July 2012.
  2. [2]NY Times: Adam Liptak, “1 in 100 U.S. Adults Behind Bars, New Study Says,” Feb 2008.
  3. [3]Ycharts: Wal-Mart Stores Revenue (WMT) as of July, 2012
  4. [4]US National Debt Clock, July 2012

Reality TV Week: Extreme Makeover Home Edition

Extreme Makeover Home Edition Logo

Shall we move a bus or two today? (Logo via abc.com)

I’d normally be writing a statistics post today, but given that this is our special reality TV week it seems right to do a very special opinion post instead. I’m talking about “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” today, a show which wrapped its successful 9 year run in January of 2012. Specifically I’m talking about the implications of this show’s premise, popularity and the criticism it has received as a reflection of our cultural views on real estate. We can learn some valuable things from this show about the American view of poverty, and how it’s interpreted through the lens of mass media. Equally valuable is the public’s reaction and what it tells us about our cultural view of profit via real estate.

Houses vs Noses vs Time

Lest their be any doubt at the outset as to where I stand on this show – EM: HE was, much like House Hunters and World’s Worst Tenants, created to sell appliances and home building supplies via mass spectacle. In this case it’s making a spectacle of the poor and unfortunate souls who were deemed pitiful enough to merit new houses. Back in ancient Rome those poor souls would have been fed to the lions or bears for spectacle. Now we tear down their houses and replace them with opulent mansions filled with Sears appliances and run up their utility bills into the five-figures in the process.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for helping out the less fortunate. EM:HE, though, was a frosting of generosity plastered thickly onto a cake of “let’s sell lots of furniture.” (more…)