mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The prisoner's, I mean CompUSA customer's, dilemna...

People who have taken economics are familiar with The Prisoner's Dilemma. The lesson from the Prisoner's Dilemna is that people will come out with an inefficient outcome (ie confessing) because it's better than the worst possible outcome (not confessing, other person confessing, you go to jail) and we don't know what the other person will do.

I was reminded of this this morning when I went to CompUSA to pick up a few sale items. I got there about 30 minutes before the store opened, since I was coming from Staples. I was the first person there, but other people started coming soon after. Everyone waited in their cars.

Until around 10:45, when a guy walked up to the front door. Darn. Because as long as everyone else stays in their cars, we are all better off (and warmer). But as soon as one person gets out, everyone has to get out ASAP or be stuck at the back of the line.

If we could collude - if everyone would agree to stay in their cars until 10:59 and then get in line in the order they came - we would be better off. But this guy wanted to make sure his chances of getting what he want were high, so he got out - and thus everyone else did too. And we were all worse off.

Darn you, economics.


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