Thursday, January 27, 2011

January 27, 2011

. . - - . . - - . .Payless
Americans always want to pay less. Americans have this utterly charming habit of acting like a dowsing stick and veering towards the lowest price. This is all wrapped up into the fabric of our system.

How does capitalism work? Well, only under capitalism can a restaurant can appear to provide both good food, and, low prices. The reality of it is a little more tricky. It seems a bit of an “oxymoron” in fact. A true combination of the high and the low of it. Does seem a bit contrary, to nature -- doesn’t it? Oxymoronic -- by nature.
It is not exactly a George Tenet slam dunk. How can you get high quality and low prices at the same time? It seems moronic. Consider, for example, the restaurant called family. When I was young I ate in many of them because my Dad ate at them, so that is something he brought me. He call them, lunch counters. The combination does seem obviously self-defeating, considering that if you had a restaurant you would get more money coming in if you either give yourself up to the lowest prices on raw ingredients, or, give in, to the tempation for making a better restaurant. Anways, on the lower level, there is a need or an imperative to move up the food chain of success, if not quality, and buy mass-produced ingredients like corporate cheese, rather than say, organic small farm cheddar from a little farm out in the unfettered countryside regions. The eggs in that restaurant are not likely to be free-range happy chicken eggs. There’s no way around, it is there? I do not believe there is any way to do it: if you have a family restaurant you need "family" prices. But wait! Here comes the “economist” (magazine or person! we do not care!) on his white horse. As the herald’s golden – or seemingly golden horn blares he announces that he has “got it.” The Economic theory. Here he is: “with lowered costs due to productivity increase in a context of mushrooming, no, “sustained” – pardon my unprofessional exuberance – growth…you will achieve..." what every mid-level professional retailer advertises, which is high quality. And at a low, low price. Yeah, yeah, yeah. At the same time. That's Amazing! The economist explains to us about: the combination of factors you need. What do you need to get things like “growth” and “productivity”? You do not begin to know. You to be explained it to you. Uh-huh. And he declares that we would get low price with high quality, if you had just the select bag of inputs he described you. Sounds good. Economics explains stuff --- that, due to "productivity growth", sure. You can get high quality products with less money expended; both at the same time. Wasn’t that nice of the entity called economics? – What is it? A university department or something? I mean, to explain things and all? (“Do you want to get anything else,” asks the waitress?)
All you need is an industrial revolution. Hell. We’ve got, probably, one of those. Hell, we’ve probably got two. Floatin’ around here... We’ve got lots of 'em products. Sooooooooooo many. Pro-Ducts. So many factories that I just get high on dem fumes. Just chuggin’ out the products that make America thwell. Not only we: Japan has products, China has products, Europeans have ‘em. Everybody has products.
Some would say that it can be achieved industrially—you can have both, if “productivity soars,” as they say.
Yet still I have a question. Even with the kind explanation of the economist, who will protest that he is not trying to be kind at all, and the question is that of how we get high quality and low price, and have an economy. I mean how can we have low prices, high quality, and an economy that actually works, one that actually gives persons jobs.

We can also ask how we get one that distributes those products to its population. You can get high quality and low price but you also have to distribute those products that you produce. Otherwise what’s the point? Once the cost of production, and hence the price tags, are low enough, you go out and try to find persons who need these items. OK—the 5ºº blue jeans can sell. So can the Lil’ Debbie 25¢ snack bars, and Gatorade.

As productivity increases—and it has, over the years—you get lots and lots of products at low prices, but only certain ones. You get, particularly, basic staples like clothing, housing, household-type products, including many electronic devices, and then you have to add your telephone service, and some good food if you're like me. So a person can live without spending a whole hell of a lot (if he can walk to work, because he can't drive, because gas is not cheap items) at a later or more "developed" stage of the capitalism situation. Here is where Europeans talk about “political economy.” But the U. S. does not think you need to do that, I guess. In the U.S., the academic figures, somewhat suspiciously, say “economics.” As if it is that simple. Right? But the fact is there are the “people problems” and you do not solve those by refusing to accept that there are people, poor ones, which, make no mistake about it, is what the American economists do tend to do. They are working for the society. In providing us with out narrative of the study field or area called Economics (the study, dahling) they act as if two things are unconnected: persons, and economics. The dissociation of those two things from one another was the masterstroke of American economic ingenuity (the STUDY, dayling). One of the two things, of course, is The People, and that's a rather famous construct, right? So why would economists of all people not study them?  I don't know.  Well, let us ask it, then.
They act as if people and business are completely unconnected. The reason follows:

 If you talk about people qua people – – you know, those funny little peopley thingamajobbers?—in economics, you will be called a socialist. But because Europe has socialists you cannot be called a socialist. So, since Europeans have socialists, their economists can talk about people—it is since they do not have to risk being called socialist, got it? But Euros treat their funny little peopley things just as bad. Europeans are just as bad as the Americans—no doubt—they treat them like crap, they just have a different tradition.
The European admits they exist whereas the slightly more psychotic Americans can simply say peopley things do not exist. Socialism. 
Americans, since they are apparently not people but abstract dots, also do really believe in the magic of low prices and high quality, and who’s to stop them? Why ruin the show?

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