I tend to be a fairly thrifty person. In fact, when you get down to it, I'm a notorious cheapskate.
If I can find a way to work a discount, I will. I min-max just about everything I can in terms of finances, determinedly working the angles to get myself the greatest possible bargains.
However, of late I've begun to see the other side of the ledger, which is to say the human side.
There's a point where "working the angles" becomes "cheating" and also a point where "thrift" becomes punitive.
For a long time, the discourse in this country was based on the idea of "free trade," which supposedly meant that artificial barriers to the actual costs of goods would be dropped so that the common people would benefit from lower prices.
But what happened was that high-wage workers in developed countries with strong environmental laws and safety regulations were being asked to compete against conscript laborers who could literally be worked to death by their tyrannical government.
The result was a steadily declining working class, rising drug abuse, falling life expectancy and communities that were completely breaking down.
I recall the same luminaries suggested that "labor mobility" was the answer - people needed to operate purely on an economic basis and be ready to leave friends and family in order to chase the optimum wage.
It was an incredibly dehumanizing point of view, but it was justified by claims that "the market" demanded it, and that "efficiency" was the highest value.
In retrospect, it was just another golden calf that people chose to worship rather than God. If people are just another factor of production, their feelings, souls and well-being are largely irrelevant.
To put it another way, a lot of capitalists seemed to have internalized fundamentally Marxist concepts.
If one steps back, it becomes clear that any system that puts money at the center of the human experience is inherently corrupt and will inevitably lead to evil, whether it's motivated by Marxist calls for "equity" or the capitalist imperative of profit.
We all need each other, and if a deal is lop-sided, it isn't the loser whose soul is in jeopardy, but the winner's.
I'm now less keen on getting a great deal and instead interested in a fair one.