No one wants to be the sucker

. 1 min read

I'm sitting in a cafe (never happened before) and just overheard a story that an older man told his friend:

This young woman in my apartment building is complaining about the increasing water rates. And I'm like, "you're the one who opened the faucet!" She should have some common sense. I've probably been paying for her water all this time.

His point was this: the water rate increases when people use more water. Which is true, of course. Also, in an apartment building, the water rates are fixed per occupant, regardless of how much water you use, which means that if you use the least water in the building, you're paying for some of the water the most water-consuming person consumes. Which is also true. So, according to him, everyone should just decrease their water consumption to the least amount with which they can get by, and that way, the water rates would decrease for everyone.

An admirable idea. However, what he seemed to miss completely is that no one wants to be the sucker who pays for other people's water, which means that to not be the sucker, you should consume as much water as you possibly can. This way you increase your odds of getting someone else to pay for some of your water.

The solution would be to make everyone pay for their own water according to consumption, and not by a fixed per person rate. Personally, I think that would be the most just system, and I have no idea why it's so impractical that apartment buildings don't use it yet. No one would have the incentive to maximize their water usage, because they'd be paying for their massive water consumption themselves.

Lesson of the day: use some common sense before you go advising others on using common sense.