You’d Take The Million

Imagine that a month ago you inherited or won a million dollars. You haven’t spent much, but you did tell people you know and you’ve been thinking about how you will spend it. (Probably including quitting your job.) Today you learn that your favorite pet will die unless you spend a million dollars on medical treatment. Ask yourself: would you spend it? What would most people you know do? In this situation, I’m pretty sure most folks wouldn’t spend a million to save their pet.

Now consider a new Vanity Fair survey:

Questions: Would most people you know kill their favorite pet for $1 million? What about you?
Answers: Most people: Yes (23%) No (72%); Yourself: Yes (11%) No (83%).

Matt Yglesias (Hat tip Sir Charles):

I don’t believe it for a minute. Saying you wouldn’t kill your favorite pet for $1 million is cheap talk. Actually declining an offer of $1 million in exchange for the life of your pet, by contrast, costs $1 million. How many people would really turn that offer down in these cash-strapped times?

Actually, my guess is that if no one you knew had ever taken such an offer, and if you took it you’d be in the news so that most folks you know would hear of it, most of you wouldn’t take the offer. But once a few associates had taken the offer, and such offers weren’t newsworthy anymore, most folks would take such offers.

This just shows how much we hate seeming weird. Accepting a million to kill your pet is weird, but then so is paying a million for your pet’s medical treatment. In each case most will do the non-weird thing.

(I posted in July on how you’d take a million to give up the internet.)

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