Basic Economics 101: “Market Prices” and “Trade-offs” in a Trip to the Vet’s

There are probably few things that hurt worse than needing to take your puppy to the vet.


I knew Corwin [blame my sisters – they named him after the intrepid explorer we grew up with] was sick, but I didn’t think it would last until I was on my way to Aiki (Juji night too, huhuhu).

But as I walked out with my backpack, puppy didn’t even get up to say goodbye. So I picked him up and lugged him along to the vet’s.

Once at the vet’s, and after his checkup, I was faced with one to ten options and a wildly fluctuating bill. Either puppy stayed overnight, with dextrose+medicines+hospitalization fees+blood test+other medicines etc., etc., etc., or he became an outpatient with oral medication, though he might throw up any medicines we give him.

I suggested he be brought in every 24 hours instead for the injections, but the vet didn’t want that because it would hurt him to receive so many. Finally, I offered to let him receive the first dose of injections, but then I’d bring him home and observe him overnight.

And with that, the agreement was made.

Because I am a self-avowed nerd, my brain composed a lesson on basic economics. Attend, children. We will now discuss “market prices” and “trade-offs.”

Short version: Market prices are, to use pseudo-technical phrases, whatever the supplier and demander agree is high enough so the supplier won’t go bankrupt and low enough so the demander won’t go broke. (It depends. Some things are worth going broke for).

That agreed price fluctuates, naturally, depending on what both the supplier and demander want at different times. (Hence, “free market.” Also hence “inflation” but that’s too much for one day).

In my case, my wallet (the demander) accommodated the professional fee and three needed injections offered by the vet (the supplier). The supplier’s challenge is to see how high the demander will go. The demander’s challenge is to see how low the supplier will go. We agreed on something that satisfied neither of us – but was at the market price.

Now, trade-offs.

Short version: Trade-offs are exchanges you decide to make according to your value system. It can be on the side of the demander, the supplier, or both.

So, mine: I really, really wanted to go to Juji night today. Really, really wanted to go. But I found myself physically incapable of leaving a puppy who had not eaten or drunk the entire day by himself. Not that I didn’t have a choice – I did.

My trade-off was: do I go to Juji anyway, enjoy myself, and pray for puppy to survive until I get back? Or do I stay with puppy and seek help for him?

Trade-offs don’t always have a happy ending, no matter the vows you make against regretting your decisions. I came home with puppy and cried my eyes out before settling down to watch over him. No regrets, none. Heart-ache though, that I do have.


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