Hi Prices & Flak for El Profesor

Greg Nowell GN842 at CNSVAX.Albany.Edu
Fri Oct 16 09:33:58 PDT 1998

My consumer quaulifications have been called into question. With regard to stickers on priced items, we have in NY, or maybe it's even at the county levels, rules opposed by the markets, which require price stickies. It is a rule often honored in the breach. But in any case there are plenty of stickies around. Second, though I do go to the occasional Wal Mart's, I basically shop at the generic mega suburban supermarkets, which are mega but not as mega as Wal Mart's, in which I get lost. It may be dumb to patronize such places but if it is I have plenty of company. In fact Wal Mart's now realizes that people getting lost in the immensity of all this crap deters customers, and they are planning to open mini stores. About the size of a supermarket.

But the main point in detecting price increases is consistency. If you consistently shop in mostly the same places, then you catch the upward drift, though I think I was the only person in the world who noticed the great olive oil price spike last year, over $20 for the 3 litre packages. But it nonetheless is the case that if one consistently shops at the small high priced stores (of which there are few in the burbs, save at Stewart's, our equivalent of 7-11), then one goes from one exaggerated price to an even higher price.

Now, as to whether men or women notice these things, it would be a cold day in hell before my wife notices a 10c change in the price of mustard (.99=>1.09, generic brand, same supermarket).

As for the price of labor, my hourly wage is higher than that of the various local outfits that come around and do lawns and leaves and such, but I do it myself, because I can't always get someone to pay me at inflated professor rates and a $250/mo lawn service contract adds up fast. So I harvest my own biomass, on the order of about two to three tons a year, according to crude estimates.

As for the blue stuff, it's not where the major economy lies for me. I use maybe two bottles a year. But I do buy my movie tickets in bulk from the movie cartel, and save about 35% a show, which over a year buys me oceans of blue stuff, as does money saved on yardwork. I tend to look for economies in items that are more-than-a-cup-o'-coffee range. But the price of blue stuff has gone up. Mark my words.

Now, it will be objected that what we really need is an index weighted by frequency of purchase and what have you. Moreover, some far sighted individuals realize that supermarkets and and such have these really sneaky pricing practices and that at any moment some are squishing up while others are squishing down. It's phenomenally complex, much like pricing in the chemical industry, where basically one thing goes in (crude oil) and gazillions of things go out.

But it's easy to look at some of the big ticket items that have come down in the past year or so, gasoline and in my case olive oil among them. Right now I'm interested in contrary indicators, and mustard and relish (separate, not combined, I would never trust someone else with the ratio) are on the list. And I think the tofu pups that I eat withal are going up too, but I have no firm idea, as the whole idea of a tofu pup is so odd. But they are medicinal, for Science News informs me soy protein is anticarcinogenic, and prostates remain useful. And once buried in mustard and relish they taste like a real hot dog.

So I repeat, that if people want to send their price hikes to me at my email address (not the list) I will put them all together and post them back in due time. For laffs.

-- Gregory P. Nowell Associate Professor Department of Political Science, Milne 100 State University of New York 135 Western Ave. Albany, New York 12222

Fax 518-442-5298

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