The Fix is In – Soaring Winter Heat, 2008; or, Just Who Says So? And If We Know So Much Now, Why is Nobody Acting to Avert It?

August 6, 2008

Here we are in the summer of 2008 and already at mid-year, the local and national news has been fed the directives from its corporate masters and informed us that winter 2008-2009 will be appallingly expensive if you, as a human being who needs to avoid freezing to stay alive, want to heat your home. So, I want to know, who told them this? Where has this information come from? Which executives sat down and decided that home heating will be expensive this winter? Give me some names! Who are they? How do they know so far in advance what is going to happen? The media never tells us. We’re just told that the word comes somewhere from on high, so get used to it and tough shit if you don’t like it. History tells us in times of heavy speculation, prices soar. Guess what’s a popular commodity for speculation right now? That’s right, oil and gas. The fix is in folks. Let’s see if the corporate-owned politicians in either of the corporate-owned political parties will do anything about it when it hits. And, since we already know so much in advance, why is nothing being done these many months in advance to stop, avert, or ease the situation, or ensure fairly priced energy to average citizens? We have several months to take actions, but instead we’re just told we have several months to brace ourselves. Last winter, people had to borrow money to heat their homes, or got so far behind in their payments that they’re still playing catch up. Why are basic necessities that used to be manageable, marginal expenses in the monthly family budget, like heating and health care, now luxuries affordable only by Rockefeller types? The more deregulation we’ve gotten, the higher things have gone—which completely puts the lie to all the BS right-wing promises. Old people and families will freeze this winter, but that’s OK; it’s the free market, after all, and that’s the highest good to which we can aspire. Right? Remember when those Enron energy managers were overheard on an infamous telephone tape laughing at making a killing by shutting off power plants so that California’s grandmothers would have to pay out the ass for electricity? It’s happening again, folks. And what kind of answers do we get from apologists for this kind of system? None, just the usual nonsolutions, defense of the energy status quo and tired diversionary epithets: “Communist!” “Socialist!” “Whaddya want companies to give the energy away for nuthin’?” So, just what kind of fucking country and world is this becoming? Who runs the law in this country, corporations or citizens? Congress can pass a price cap in two seconds if we all demand it. But that won’t happen because we know who really runs the country. The Boston Tea Party looms; the warm cushy mansions harboring the fat and satisfied few will be invaded; the revolution is coming folks, and I’m there. -EG

Home Energy Prices Are Expected to Soar (at New York Times) http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/06/business/06fuel.html?ref=business


Postal Service Joins the Price Gouge Parade: or, Peanuts Don’t Cost Peanuts Anymore

May 14, 2007

costbill.jpgI knew postage would be more expensive today. The news media has been saying so for weeks. And I was prepared for a modest hike.

But consider this.

In order to help myself get by in this increasingly expensive world, I sell small items on Amazon and sometimes Ebay, mostly VHS videotapes and CDs that are out of print or rare or relatively so, and mostly at $6 or less.

Normally, sending a videotape via media mail has cost $1.59, almost without exception.

Today, it was $2.13, each. That’s $4.16 just to send two videos, one of which I only sold for $6, minus the various fees and commissions. (First class would be even more, around $2.50). In the end, the best I made in profit was $1.50.

Guess where all my $6 videos are going from now on? In my mother’s yard sale. I’d rather clear a straight up $2 than put up with any more of this shit.

So, thanks USPS for joining the price-gouge parade and driving the super-small businessman further into the fringes of the black-market economy.

For my part and doubtless the thousands of others who will follow, Amazon will get a taste of this when I de-list several hundred small items from my current listings.

I know Amazon is in no danger from this and that they don’t care.

Everytime Amazon ups the amount they charge buyers for shipping costs, the amount they reimburse me is supposed to increase to cover that, but in fact is always eaten up by the concurrently rising commission that Amazon, Ebay and the rest always end up charging.

So, enough’s enough.

coststoomuch_.gif

You can add postage to the list of things that used to be marginal, insignificant costs of living that now have gotten out of control and become luxuries: things like health coverage (remember how this used to be like, $25 a month, and that was with real insurance, not HMO crap). My family coverage—and this is not even the high-end product—is more than $500 a month. In other words, not too far from the cost of a home mortgage.

And I’m stuck with it.

Despite the spurious cost-of-living index malarkey we’re always fed (somehow the index never seems to surpass 1 percent even as gasoline, home heating oil, health insurance, car insurance and everything rises in double digits), you literally have to be Rockefeller today just to eke out a pale imitation of the decent middle-class lifestyle we had in the 1970s and before.

costpeanuts.jpg

A couple of bucks worth of peanuts

A can of peanuts, and I’m talking a tiny 9 ounce can of lowly Planters Cocktail nuts, pushes the $3 to $4 range.

Are you friggin’ kidding me?

And paper towels. not only are they now about the circumference of a measley baseball bat, but they all cost more than $1 each. A two-pack is more than $2.

Give me a friggin’ break.

One item that seemed to be holding the line was Vo5 Shampoo. This staple bottom-of-the-price-line hair cleaner always stayed under a dollar, but not anymore. Kroger finally succeeded in getting even that to surpass its vaunted dollar price point: $1.05.

There’s a lot of stuff I wanted to comment on regarding how this all came to be, but I just don’t have time to do the analysis.

I’m too busy trying to make enough bread to buy peanuts. Or should I call them “caviar on trees”?

-EG