Thursday, 1 January 2009


Luck, it's an odd commodity.
Or perhaps the currencies used to sell it are. Take these caged birds I encountered in the Chiang Mai night market area one Saturday morning.

A woman (attached to the white sneaks) encouraged me to give her some money. In return I would be allowed to let a bird free, earning me luck*.

I wondered, out of the three parties, who would gain the most luck were I to pay the money and free a bird?

I figured the luck would be distributed thus:

1. 100% to the bird, who escapes captivity, naturally comes out on top.
2. 10% to the woman. She can buy some new sneaks, and has a good laugh at the morons who pay for them.
3. -10% to me. I'm poorer, the bird will probably shit on me, and there's one more sucker in the world who's easily parted with money at the first opportunity to buy what must be earned.


Luck is created through hard work, understanding of the world's workings, enthusiasm and imagination. Anyone who thinks you can buy it is a fool!

*Probably karma points actually, but 'luck' may appeal to a wider audience.


Logan Longbourne said...

'Luck' is, in this case, a synonym for economic utility. In any efficient transaction, the buyer values the good (in 'utils') at a higher level than the seller. He therefore gains greater utility by purchasing it--at a market price--than he would by spending his money elsewhere, while the seller gains greater utility by selling it than by keeping it.

This assumes you WANT to make the transaction, rather than simply point out that the goods offered are not material, but rather an attempt at shameless emotional manipulation.

The buyer gains utility, the seller gains utility, and the bird gains the ineffable low-level ontological expression of birdishness that is revealed fully in flight.

Chriss said...

Luck would go 100% to the lady who managed to stumble across the poor ignorant tourist who set 'free' a bird that's trained to return to her.