Much as I believe in free market capitalism, I do not believe in being an avaricious a-hole. The following news story has gone viral, about a supermarket manager, John-Paul Drake, who refused to give a refund to some such avaricious a-hole who decided on a not-so-clever get rich quick scheme where he and some cronies decided to buy 5000 rolls of toilet paper and 150 bottles of sanitiser where he subsequently could not get eBay to list his stash for sale:
At a time like this where government is (hopefully only temporarily) imposing unprecedented controls on civil society and the economy due to the pandemic, it is important to reflect on what makes our society – both free market economics and civil society – function.
It functions on trust, civility, and a general sense of decency. For as long as most people behave in a generally decent way (you don’t even have to be kind or generous, just mostly honest and not exceptionally greedy or a-hole like), our society functions well. If more than a few people were to behave in a way which is not generally decent, then the whole community would collapse into a chaotic mess.
Behaviour like this price-gouging would be entrepreneur who sought to corner the toilet paper market and turn a quick profit, and who then asked for a refund when his scheme fell apart, is not the kind of behaviour which engenders trust and civility in society. Nor is it decent. It is the behaviour of an a-hole.
He has been rewarded by the finger from a supermarket manager, and can now hold onto his giant stash of toilet paper. Happily for him, being a giant a-hole means that he probably will go through that 5000 roll stash fairly quickly, so that is a silver lining for him.
As for John-Paul Drake, he really deserves to be Australian of the Year.