Month: February 2008
Here is the opening of the piece, in the latest Mint:
Sometimes my life feels like a series of never-ending frustrations. The
last three products I bought at Best Buy–a large electronics store–had
to be returned because they simply didn’t work. The DVD from Amazon has
a fatal skip. My wife’s new Mac computer doesn’t function on our
wireless network. I dread any call to customer service. A wait is
followed by a transfer, which is followed by two more transfers, which
is in turn followed by a promise to call me back. The return call never
comes. My billing dispute on my AT&T credit card dragged on since
May, mostly because they simply didn’t find it worth their while to
respond to my letters.
But there’s a happy ending, sort of:
If you need consolation, I have two suggestions.
First, count your blessings and read some Buddhist or Stoic philosophy. Second, take your revenge in the form of lower prices.
the short run, one supplier can rip you off pretty easily. In the long
run, it is harder for the world as a whole to avoid giving you a pretty
I have to side with Matt Yglesias’s claim that Russian women have been beautiful for a long time and that it is not the recent advent of capitalism which elevated their looks. I’ve seen pictures of the younger Natasha, pre-capitalism, and she was beautiful back then too. I know many of her female friends, or have seen early photos of them, and almost all of them are (and were) beautiful. I visited Russia in the early 90s, just as capitalism was taking hold. There was plenty of beauty to go around, although admittedly people dress better now. Countries don’t develop networks of beautiful women overnight. Furthermore, once you get past the point of malnutrition, beauty is not related to per capita income in any simple way. I’ll take Cuba, Croatia, Senegal, and Brazil over Australia and Finland, or to cite a closer comparison Slovakia over Austria. One hypothesis is that inequality of male income and power encourages female beauty for competitive reasons. Admittedly much more research needs to be done on this question.
Addendum: Free Exchange weighs in.