Tuesday, April 2, 2013
For Sale: One Cat. Price: Negative $143.12
Six years ago my wife and youngest son spotted the cat in this picture trying to climb a tree at a nearby gas station. The cat was just a kitten - abandoned - ridden with fleas and cute.
Wife brings cat home.
Cat begins constant desire for food and normal medical attention.
Husband (me) not happy.
This cat costs me about $400 per year in food and vet bills. That means if she (Tommi is her name) lives for 15 years I am going to be out $6,000. That is 10 days (probably) in Europe or a month and half of camping in the Northwest or a decent used car or some help for my kid's education or other stuff that I want or need.
I do not want or need this cat.
She does not lay eggs like the two chickens we recently acquired. She does not give milk. She does not guard the house against intruders and Jehovah's Witnesses. She does not do anything that any economist would claim is of value. She does bring in the occasional flea, causes me to sneeze, takes naps on clothes I am trying to sell on eBay and even vomits on the floor from time to time.
I realize this is a horrible ad for a cat I am writing so please ignore the ad and look at the price.
That's right. I, the supplier am willing to pay you, the demander, to take this cat off my hands.
And I am not joking.
In a normal market, where supply and demand intersect at prices above zero, the buyer pays the seller.
In a market where the product is of such low value (think used chewing gum, junked cars and Julia Robert's movies), supply and demand can acually intersect at a price below zero.
This is where my cat enters the picture.
How did I arrive at the price? Very simple - it is called trial and error.
I do not know what the equilibrium price is for this cat but I have fully disclosed her problems. Her records are up to date and she is happy inside and outside. She has many more years left to hang out with one of you cat lovers and you can have her and some cash to get started on giving her a new home.
Let the bidding begin.