Popular Prices


We’re suckers for sales.  Retailers have long understood how to appeal to us with “clearances”, “liquidations”, “markdowns”, “discounts”, “reductions”, and the like.  My favorite is the come-on offering products currently available “at popular prices”.  Is this an all-too-clumsy attempt to link commerce with democracy?  Are we to believe that prices reflect the will of the people?  Maybe in a society where bargaining is standard practice, there is truth to it.  But here, in the United States, prices are on display, after which it’s take it or leave it (notwithstanding the growth of auction bidding type websites).

Prices, most would agree, may be fair but are rarely popular.  If it’s something you want or need, you look for the best deal, but hardly expect the price you paid was determined by popular referendum.  Pursue democracy via the voting booth; don’t expect it in the price tag.

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