“All things being equal”. We say it and hear it said all the time. What does it mean and is it true?
Ceteris paribus or caeteris paribus is a Latin phrase meaning “other things equal”. English translations of the phrase include “all other things being equal” or “other things held constant” or “all else unchanged.” It refers to a prediction or a statement about a causal, empirical, or logical relation between two states of affairs.
Here’s the problem: rarely are two things equal. Let alone five or ten or two hundred things equal. Yet we say it all the time.
Everyone wants a deal. We want to pay a fraction of the price and get the same value, all things being equal. The problem is that we are not going to get an equal product. Sometimes it matters, sometimes it doesn’t.
Recently we decided to remodel our kitchen. A year earlier we had remodeled a bathroom. The cabinet vendor came and took our cabinets and returned them re-surfaced a month later. No problems, no missed deadlines, no inferior product. It did come at a healthy price tag.
This year we chose to remodel the kitchen. A different “less expensive” vendor was selected. We had experience with her in a smaller bathroom. The work was OK but took three times longer than it should have taken.
Some product choices we had to reject as dated and NOT IN MY HOUSE.
Let me put it this way, in month six we had to change course.
The “less expensive vendor” had basically disappeared. Several times she had even said the new cabinets were ON THE TRUCK, as in on their way to us, and never arrived. Promise after promise, deadline after deadline.
Finally we went back to the vendor who we used for our master bathroom.
We are in week 3. He has updated us twice and promised them in week 4 as we agreed. Not month 7.
I don’t know if you have ever lived with your shelves wide open like a flea market. It is not a pretty sight. We can’t close off the garbage, the plates or the boxes of salt and sugar. When your kitchen is messy, your life feels messy.
We have lived this way for six months because there was a belief that all things were considered equal. THEY ARE NOT.
Things whether they are product or experience, are not equal. Not in my house and not in the White House.