Are people really that egoistic?

It looks like that the main protagonists of this season are Donald Trump’s tweets, unexpected VIP pregnancies, and hurricanes. The latter ones are the only trend that is going to be the topic in this post.

First, it happened with Houston, Texas. Today it was Puerto Rico’s turn. Hurricane Maria destroyed large parts of the Central American island, leaving most of the country without any power and communication facilities. It is a tragedy what has occurred, and only time will tell when the Hispanic country will be able to start gaining its economic and political prestige back after such a catastrophe.

Unlike many Puerto Ricans, today I started my day in a pretty good way. I woke up, had breakfast, dressed up, and checked my technological devices. While I was looking in the e-mail box, I spotted an online article by a behavioral economist. And the first few words of the piece made me think.

“Should morality, rather than the market, dictate the right price of goods and services in emergency situations?”

Let’s break down this question. Should our moral side decide the right price of a thing when we are in an emergency? Should that object or service cost less if we are in a critical situation?

Instinctually, I would answer “sure”. When there’s a problem why can’t we help each other?

Let’s be more practical and try to answer “whether it is fair for a shop to raise the price of a snow shovel from $15 to $20 the morning after a large snowstorm.

I believed, like 82% of the people who were asked this question, that it was uneven and simply not right. In an emergency, especially if it involves a natural disaster, the whole community should be able to come to different solutions and try to assure the safety of each member of the group. Koen Smets, the author of this piece, wrote that my answer, who I shared with other people as well, was “against conventional economic theory: when supply is outstripped by demand, prices will rise to a level that will just clear the market.

Here then my thoughts to Puerto Rico and hurricane Maria. How should people behave in this kind of situations when it comes to the economy and serious accidents?

I can’t provide a perfect answer, even if I tried to do so. The economy has its own life, and like Mother Nature, it doesn’t care for you. Unfortunately, I suppose that this sort of events are just meant to be experienced and no one can actually go against Nature’s will. But people can change the economy, even though it has its own force. Businessmen and women should make proper and ethical decisions, like journalists – at least, that’s the objective that anyone in those fields should achieve and maintain.

Is it fine then to make people pay more a certain item or service when there’s an adversity going on? In my (maybe innocent) opinion it shouldn’t work that way. The price should remain the same, or even go less. Not only would it be more accessible for the people in need to purchase those aids, but more income would come on the seller’s side.

Again, I’m not an economist. I’m still learning to live in this crazy, hard and amazing world. I just wanted to state my confusion and struggle to make this kind of decisions in problematic circumstances. I believe this world would work better if only powerful people, small people, and everyone else would act less self-centred.

I believe this world would work better if only powerful people, small people, and everyone else would act less self-centered.



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