Capitalism, Hot Air, and the Price of Bread
by David Sims
LET US BEGIN our examination of typical capitalist behavior with a discussion about the cost of bread.
In years ending in 0 or 5, the companies that make sliced bread get their boards of directors together and raise their prices. And, after the vote, the company’s directors all laugh with unholy glee.
In years ending in 1 or 6, they shorten each loaf of bread they sell by 1/4 inch. And, after the vote, the company’s directors all laugh with wicked glee.
In years ending in 2 or 7, they reduce the cross-section area of the loaf by three percent. And, after the vote, the company’s directors all laugh with evil glee.
In years ending in 3 or 8, they make the holes in the bread bigger and more numerous. And, after the vote, the company’s directors all laugh with vile glee.
In years ending in 4 or 9, they start using cheaper ingredients. For example, they might substitute sawdust for some of the flour in the original recipe. And, after the vote, the company’s directors all laugh with maniacal glee.
And all the while, they blare TV advertisements telling you what an intelligent purchase their bread is. That’s how capitalism sneaks up on you. One of the oldest jokes in the world must be this one-liner:
“What a wonderful deal you are getting,” said the seller.
(Apropos of this kind of behavior, have you noticed that the structure of whole wheat bread sold at the supermarket is now so vacuous that a loaf of it can no longer support its own weight? Whole wheat bread becomes “crushed” just by sitting on a shelf for a while.)
Another example of this sort of capitalist behavior can be seen in floor fans. You might not have been aware of it, but there are two kinds of these. There’s the kind that industrialists sell to each other. And there’s the kind they sell to you.
The kind of floor fan that capitalists make for themselves are sometimes called “high velocity” fans. They have metal blades that cut the air efficiently and don’t warp out of shape over time. They move a respectable amount of wind. And they usually aren’t sold to peons like us. Although all fans could be made this way, for some reason they aren’t.
The floor fans that the capitalists sell to us have blades made of plastic, which warp over time so that, after a summer or two, you can stand one of them up, plug it in, turn it on “high,” and you might be able to detect a slight breeze out of it in the forward direction — maybe.
Then you go back to the store to buy another fan, only to fall for the same gimmick once again.
I’ve been into a department store on a hot day when the air conditioning wasn’t working. They had the doors open, and they had the good kind of floor fans blowing a breeze down the aisles. But all of the fans stacked on the shelves, which they were selling to shoppers, were the bad kind.
When I asked how much the store would charge me for one of their “high velocity” fans, the sales lady told me that they weren’t allowed to sell those fans to customers.
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