My economic stimulus plan
I know this sounds a little weird, but would you mind raising your prices? All of you who sell me things, and you know who you are, please increase your prices. I know I can’t afford big increases but I also can’t afford to buy the shoddy products you are selling me any more either. Let me explain.
My newspaper has nothing in it. There’s lots of news in the world but it seems to be left uncovered. I know the papers have had it hard recently because the Internet is taking all their ad revenue. They’ve cut back and cheapened their product to the point where it’s no longer recognizable. If you’re going to make a product this bad, I should just buy an iPad and get my news free on your web site. By the way, why are you so reluctant to charge for web access?
Then there’s my airline. I don’t like you. You nickel and dime me and, honestly, if I could I would use another carrier but you have a strangle hold on the routes I want to fly. In the old days, a vendor in your position would raise prices and make fat profits. Now, though, the best you seem to be able to do is to charge for checking my bag or changing a reservation. Ten years ago I paid you two thousand bucks to fly across the continent. Now, I pay about a quarter of that. Fuel prices have risen significantly. Are you making any money at these rates? Why not raise prices, make some money and return service levels to something more appropriate?
I’m tired of cheap food too. I go to one of those warehouse food stores where you can’t buy small quantities so I don’t go very often and my freezer is full. I have to be careful not to eat what I can afford to so that I don’t blimp out. But I like food shopping and lately I go to Whole Foods just to roam the aisles, look at the higher prices and remember what quality was all about. Maybe you don’t have to raise your prices, I can just go to Whole Foods.
While we’re on the subject of food, I was in a restaurant in Seattle recently, which published the calorie content of each menu item. I was shocked to see that many items contain almost enough calories (or more) to feed an average human for a day. No wonder we’re a nation of fat people and our kids can barely pass the armed services induction physical. If you’re going to give me a day’s worth of food, the least you can do is charge for it.
Kudos to the energy providers, you’ve learned the importance of raising prices. Unfortunately, though, you need to do more. When you raised gas prices to four bucks we all drove less and it was good for the environment. Now prices are almost as high again but somehow we’ve gotten used to high prices and we just drive baby drive. No doubt about it, you need to charge more too.
Seems like everything is cheap but cheap as things are they seem expensive because many of us can’t find jobs. Too many jobs have gone to China and other emerging economies. In the last ten years more than 42,000 factories left America for China. That’s not jobs that’s factories each of which employed hundreds or thousands of Americans. American products cost more than imports because American workers made a middle class wage. But the Chinese make very low wages. Back then we all had more money in our pockets to pay for things that were more expensive than they are in real terms today. I miss those days.