Sunday, June 28, 2015

Choice: When Less Is More

Last week I attended the annual Morningstar Investment Conference in Chicago, Illinois. Of course, I didn't wear my sunglasses (a little inside money management humor).

Just a brief observation. At breakfast the second day I commented to my colleague who had made the trip with me, "Not to channel Bernie Sanders, but I appreciate the limited selection of this morning's breakfast. At free-buffet-style events like these too many choices allow my eyes to be bigger than my stomach--and I tend to over eat."

To be sure it wasn't Venezuela-level restriction. There were the typical bran, blueberry, and banana-nut muffins, a combination of egg with cheese on an English muffin by itself, with bacon, and with sausage, a little bit of fruit, and yogurt. All coupled with juice and coffee. This breakfast was thorough and well thought out.

So it wasn't vast choices I truly wanted to avoid. I just wanted someone else making them. I wanted curation, and to my estimation that is what I received. That said, as I approached a trash can to discard my empty plate, another attendee converged with me upon the same task only his plate was mostly full. Despite not knowing me, he made plain his opinion of the meal, "What a shitty breakfast!"

Capitalism can't win. If the consumer has to make the choices, they are overwhelmed (according to the likes of Sanders). If someone makes the choices for them, some leave unhappy--no doubt spoiled by the unrealistic cornucopia that other experiences in a capitalistic system have brought. One man's curated meal is another man's shitty breakfast.