Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Politics of Acquisition

How do you go about buying something? Are you spontaneous or deliberate? Do you do your homework first or just grab something that appeals to you? I have developed a theory by which I believe I can predict what sort of shopper you are simply by asking for your political views.

Progressives have an inherent distrust of business and approach shopping with the assumption that they will be fleeced if they let their guard down. Conservatives, in contrast and as one might expect, believe that the practitioners of free-enterprise are, on the whole, an honest bunch as much concerned with the welfare of the customer as their bottom-line. Thus, In matters of retail, the Progressive is a profound pessimist while the Conservative is a wide-eyed optimist.

Conservatives still have a quaint tendency towards brand loyalty. In this they are a throwback to an earlier, more innocent age. In the ancient times of my youth it was common amongst Democrats and Republicans alike to hear self-applied descriptions such as

"I'm a (Ford / Chesterfield / Coca-Cola) person".

Today, however, Progressive cynicism concerning the motives of Big Business prohibits any identification with a brand; a position with which, for mental health reasons, I agree. (Can you imagine the trauma an Oldsmobile or a Polaroid person has been feeling lately?) Only a Conservative would feel insulted if, as I did recently, AT&T was compared unfavorably to Verizon Wireless. I had no idea that anyone could possibly consider themselves an "AT&T person"! I mean, AT&T isn't even really AT&T. It is actually SBC Communications that took the name of one of it's acquisitions: AT&T Wireless! (Sounds like a multiple personality disorder in the making.)

I, on the other hand, am a Progressive and would happily purchase an "Adolf Hitler" TV if it were highly rated by Consumer Reports (CR) and was cheaper than the competition. (OK, I'd probably pay extra to have the logo removed before shipment but that would be the extent of my shame.)

Of course, that is not to say that there aren't Progressive brands: Subaru, Google and Apple are some examples that immediately come to mind. However, as a Progressive I can definitively say that the only reason Progressives drive Foresters and talk on iPhones is because they are simply the best and NOT because they make anyone feel more Progressive when buying one. That is just another cabal of the Right Wing Media Conspiracy.

It should come as no surprise then that I consulted CR in order to make my choice of a replacement TV. Luckily, that wonderful organization did not recommend an "Adolf Hitler" model. Instead they recommended model LS78XC223MJL387249910AA.02 manufactured by an Asian firm. (And, no, there is absolutely no basis to the Conservative libel that CR always pans American-made products. In fact, they love Vermont maple syrup!!)