There are numerous examples of information being misconstrued in such a way that it can be used to give a false impression. The following examples show how waste is rewarded by such misuse.
Once during a flight a man sitting next to me wanted to purchase some cosmetics for his wife. When the attractive, smooth-talking flight attendant told him that he would be entitled to a bigger discount if he purchased more products, he went on a massive spending spree. When he got off the plane, he was loaded down with several bags brimming with enough cosmetics to last his wife several lifetimes over. No wonder he muttered when disembarking, "What a lot or rubbish I have just purchased. My wife will not use half of it!"
When I eat in a fast-food restaurant, I don't usually want to eat potato cakes. However, the wait staff, out of kindness, always tries to persuade me to buy an extra potato cake so that I can enjoy the set meal, saying it will be cheaper than buying separately. But this kind of thinking makes little sense, i.e. to stimulate consumption, a larger quantity is rewarded at a lower price. But, if the extra potato cake is just too much for one to stomach, or is not to one's taste, isn't it a waste of resources?
It is beyond reason for a wasteful act to be rewarded. In the light of the principle of conserving resources, it should be more rational that the more one purchases, the higher the price should be, whether it is cosmetics or food. Or there should be no discount, at least.
This principle applies to many situations, I assume. For instance, the more food people buy, the more expensive it should be, with an eye to minimising leftovers. In the same manner, the more water and electricity people consume, the more they should be charged, with the geometric progression increasing. By doing so, we can "control the quantity with price" and "achieve resource-efficiency through controlled quantity".
This article was originally published in Chinese in the United Daily News (25 January, 2014).
February 10, 2014