A Childish Complaint

I still remember one of my favorite shows as a child, Under the Umbrella Tree , a show with a puppet gopher named Gloria (I think.) I still remember an episode where she was saving money for something that she wanted. In the episode, she struggles to save at first because she does not rein in her spending, but she quickly saves a lot of money (for a child gopher.) The climax of the episode comes when she has exactly enough to buy her desired object, only to have her friend come to the door selling cookies. Gloria has to decide whether to buy the cookies or buy the object for which she has been saving. She anguishes over the decision but finally refuses to buy cookies.

Oddly enough, I still remember that scene. Moreover, I remember how I felt watching that scene. I felt angry. Why should Gloria have to choose between having the cookies and the toy (or whatever she wanted)? Shouldn’t she be able to have whatever it is that she wanted, whenever she wanted it?

This scene, in retrospect, was a painful introduction to one of the most basic concepts of economics: humans have unlimited wants, but limited resources. I hated it then, and I hate it now. Every time I go shopping for clothes, and I realize that I cannot buy every single item I want in the store, and the little girl in me feels angry.

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