Love for sale

There’s this real jackass in Knoxville who stars in his own radio commercials. He runs a jewelry store. I don’t care to mention his name or the name of his store. The basic gist of almost every commercial is, “Buy your woman some jewelry, like she deserves — so she will continue loving you.” Granted, most jewelry commercials convey about that same message, but this guy’s commercials stand out because he goes to special effort to make a fool out of himself. His tone of voice and his overall feminine persona dramatically help him in accomplishing this goal.

What kind of sick society do we live in where men have an obligation to buy their wives numerous glitsy rocks in order to receive love?

Of course, part of me wonders whether doing nice things like purchasing jewelry might be a wise move to reward a wife who has already demonstrated her devotion. That is, it might be smart to purchase jewelry as a non-obligatory reward. This situation seems grayer, and harder to argue against one way or the other. For example, many wives in the United States are unfaithful one way or another (Consider the divorce rate and the fact that women initiate about two thirds of these divorces).  If you have an exceptional wife who is loyal and ethical in such a perverse, promiscuous, and man-hating culture, it seems like such a situation might warrant some special honor for her virtue.

Nonetheless, the critique against this idea would point out that wives should be devoted regardless of gifts. And as we learned in my behavioral economics class (see previous post), giving rewards can easily halt the happiness derived from performing an act. A lawyer may easily work many hours free for a pro bono case but quickly reject the idea of taking a charitable case that pays a small fee. If you start paying your wife to be loyal to you, that might actually start doing the opposite of what the commercials promise!

Like I said, it’s a close call in these rare cases. The diminishing incentive described above does apply mainly to monetary rewards, for example. Gifts, particularly sentimental ones, tend not to create such a great disincentivizing effect. While the idea seems risky, it should not be entirely discounted.

But while a non-obligatory reward might be theoretically permissable, such a reward must ultimately remain non-obligatory! If your wife starts thinking, I will only love him as long as he continues “rewarding” me with diamonds, then CONGRATULATIONS:  You’ve created a monster! So in the end, it seems to me like a risky move.

Of course, these idiotic commercials attempt to convey the message that these gifts are obligatory. So you already know they’re straight from the devil.

Spend money on the girl, and according to the commercials, she will make you happy. In the end, this message sounds a lot like advertising for prostitution. That applies to the national jewelry companies as well (Why the hell should every kiss begin with Kay?).  I don’t understand how anyone, woman or otherwise, could consider these commercials (or the gifts resulting from them) to be romantic in the slightest.

Thank goodness I’ve finally gotten out of town — so I won’t have to hear this local chump keep going on through Christmas with his self-made commercials.


6 Responses to “Love for sale”

  1. 1 Wintery Knight December 20, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    I want to know why women like jewelry in the first place. It’s a lot of money to spend on shiny rocks and I want to know why they think that it’s a good deal.

  2. 2 Drew December 20, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    Yeah, that’s what my brother said when I told him what I was writing. I think women are just all about showing off.

  3. 3 Wintery Knight December 20, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    Not all, but it’s something they have to be alert about and work through it.

  4. 4 Rebekah December 25, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    Not like shiny new cars or anything…

  5. 5 Juli December 31, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    Hey Drew! If you post your links I read…so keep posting on FB. Anyway, a recently divorced friend of mine has been researching how to sell her ring without getting fleeced. According to her research, the resale value of a diamond ring is at best 30% of what the consumer paid for it. So, if she sells it, she’s gonna get fleeced. If that’s true then apparantly, buying a “new” diamond is a worse investment than buying a new car and of course, at least with a new car. . . you actually know that it is “new,” and it comes with warranties etc.

  6. 6 Drew December 31, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Man, I think when I get married I’m gonna buy used. Actually, I’ve heard that cars lose a good bit of value (I think 15%) as soon as you drive ’em off the lot also, although it’s better than a 70% loss.

    You bring up the important topic of divorce. Given that half of all marriages end in divorce, perhaps a man should mentally multiply the price of all jewelry by two, to make up for the loss of expected value in his purchase. But then again, I suppose he could always prevent/postpone divorce by BUYING and BUYING and BUYING more — maybe from that smooth radio ad guy in Knoxville…

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