Essays

A Very, Very Short Course in Understanding Capitalism

by David Sims

IN YEARS ending in 1, raise the price of a loaf of bread.

In years ending in 2, cheapen the ingredients. For example, increase the sawdust in the dough from 1% to 2%.

In years ending in 3, decrease the length of loaves by 5 millimeters (and slice the bread thinner to keep the number of slices the same as before).

In years ending in 4, decrease the cross-section of the slices by 1 square centimeter.

In years ending in 5, bake the bread in such a way as to increase the size of the holes in the slices.

In years ending in 6, raise the price of a loaf of bread…

And so on.

However, in all the bread commercials on television, always show a loaf of bread as it was made 50 years ago.

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THEYliveAnthony CollinsArvin N. PrebostArvin N. PrebostShawn Green Recent comment authors
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Shawn Green
Shawn Green

I thought that it happens only in my country.

Anthony Collins
Anthony Collins

As Joseph Goebbels remarked, in a 1920 letter to Anka Stalherm, “capitalism recognizes no national boundaries.”

Arvin N. Prebost
Arvin N. Prebost

There is an angel building a new branch of hell for these people.

Arvin N. Prebost
Arvin N. Prebost

Their bread was low-quality carbs and their “fruit pies” were sugar-and-starch bombs.

I used to eat “granola bars” until I read the label—carb city.

THEYlive
THEYlive

Reminds me of most corporate jobs I’ve had.

On year v raise the price of the product.

On year w discontinue a certain employee benefit.

On year x add a few extra responsibilities to the same employee’s job description.

On year y make your employees think they got a raise without them knowing that they are doing more work for less if one accounts for inflation.

On year z outsource 3 percent of the labor to the Philippines and so on.

Anthony Collins
Anthony Collins

I suppose such practices might be regarded as analogous to coin clipping in the way they falsify and extract value. Jews were notorious for coin clipping in medieval times. One thirteenth-century chronicler, discussing the debasement of English currency, even remarked that “it was said and discovered that the coins were being circumcised by circumcised people and infidel Jews.”