It is sales season. There are advertisements galore in newspapers and on television, banners in every market place announcing the ‘End of season sale’-free gifts and heavy discounts. The moment I see the word ’free’, excitement overtakes my rational mind. My ability to analyze objectively the need and evaluate the pros and cons of the offer goes for a toss. I end up buying things that I don’t even need, all for the lure of ‘free’.
There is wisdom in the adage, ‘There is no free lunch in this world’ but I forget. I have fallen prey to the bait not once, but many times, purchased in excitement to regret later. The other day, attracted by a bargain offer, ‘Buy three, get three free’, I walked into a showroom of a known apparel brand. After spending an hour or so in the shop, I bought six shirts when just one was on my agenda. Penny wise and pound foolish! A classic example of my imprudence is huge sum I spent on a heavy coat, not worn till date, though bought years ago, all for a free travel bag with the purchase. My children chide me for collecting a set of six bright-red mugs, each mug supposedly ‘free’ with a coffee jar. Don’t ask me how much coffee I have in my pantry.
While free gifts by business enterprises excite me, I become apprehensive when it comes to freebies offered by political parties. Come elections, politicians turn into Santa Clause with bagful of goodies as every party joins the bandwagon of freebies. Development may be low on agenda but the focus is on appeasing the electorate with generous doles, from monthly stipend for women to free electricity, free water, free mobiles and laptops for the students. And what a completion it is among the parties in outdoing one another in promising freebies and subsidies! If one party has promised 200 units of free power, the other offers 300 units free.
The downpour of doles and freebies in the election season tickles my grey cells; my rational mind gets activated. I wonder where the funds for giveaways would come from. Won’t these freebies and subsidies wreck the finances of the states that are already in doldrums? Doesn’t free bijli, paani lead to misuse, overuse and unnecessary wastage of precious resources? My economics background comes to the fore. I muse freebies may get the votes of gullible, but giveaways are certainly not good economics, not even good politics in the long run. Ultimately, everyone wants development and job creation, but if significant funds get diverted to freebies, there won’t be sufficient money left for public investment needed for growth.
While I am contemplating, an ad of a popular brand, ‘Buy one, get one free’ distracts me. The moment I read’ free’, my rational mind goes into hibernation. Without wasting any time, I make a beeline for the sales outlet.
(Published in THE TRIBUNE as MIDDLE on March 10, 2022)