Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice

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The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socio-economic unfairness runs thus:

At the time of Men at Arms, Samuel Vimes earned thirty-eight dollars a month as a Captain of the Watch, plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots, the sort that would last years and years, cost fifty dollars. This was beyond his pocket and the most he could hope for was an affordable pair of boots costing ten dollars, which might with luck last a year or so before he would need to resort to makeshift cardboard insoles so as to prolong the moment of shelling out another ten dollars.

Therefore over a period of ten years, he might have paid out a hundred dollars on boots, twice as much as the man who could afford fifty dollars up front ten years before. And he would still have wet feet.

Without any special rancour, Vimes stretched this theory to explain why Sybil Ramkin lived twice as comfortably as he did by spending about half as much every month.


This is an old theory that can be traced back at least as far as the 1914 novel The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists, by Robert Tressell. His version is longer, with multiple examples, but he sums it up as: "Everybody knows that good clothes, boots or furniture are really the cheapest in the end, although they cost more money at first; but the working classes can seldom or never afford to buy good things; they have to buy cheap rubbish which is dear at any price."

Jack Monroe's "Vimes Boots Index" is named after Vimes' theory, with the Pratchett estate's blessings.