Mencken's famous rumination that nobody ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of plain people is, of course, greatly mistaken; and this fallacy is nowhere more apparent than in the shoddy, mass-produced world of consumer goods. Very plain people don't want a plywood chair with thin strips of ersatz vintage fabric stapled to its rickety frame; nor do they wish to own a dress shirt embroidered with skulls and venomous plants, a computerized bedroom-set featuring a programmable headboard that massages the scalp, or a talking vacuum cleaner with a crumb recycling nozzle. In fact: no people want them, whether they be plain, striped or polka-dotted people.
Consequently, the shelves of discount outlets and dollar-savers across the country are crammed with fatuous, gimcrack products that even the most compulsive of shopaholics peruse with profound disdain. These days, despite an avalanche of options, it is almost impossible to find anything that anyone actually wants to buy; and what reasonably normal products do exist are usually heavily camouflaged with marketing jargon and twice the price. The sad truth is: the more normal something is then the more expensive it will be. "Plain" has become a lifestyle statement that manufacturers force their customers to pay for; and alas most of us plain people can't afford it anymore.