As things get more expensive, things don’t seem to cost more. I noticed this when I was in Costco a few weeks ago. I was used to paying just under $40 for Chevron Delo 400 motor oil, the product we use in diesel engines. I grabbed a box of gallon bottles and put it in the cart. It was only later I realized that instead of four one-gallon bottles in the box, there were three. Another instance was yesterday when I asked Hilary to pick up a 5-pound bag of sugar so I could cook up some apricot jam. She brought home a 4-pound bag, which superficially looked like the old 5-pound bag. She noticed the deficiency and bought an additional 2-pound box to make it up. [Thanks Hil! I used every speck of it!]
Check out a box of breakfast cereal on the supermarket shelf. Same width, same height. But front-to-back it’s thinner, and the price hasn’t changed.
Is it a nasty conspiracy? No, it’s marketing. If prices go up, people start changing their buying habits and instead of buying a brand name product, they’ll pick a generic.
Behind all this is the unacknowledged fact that here in the United States we are in a depression. No politician dares to mention the D word, but every historic indicator points to the conclusion that it’s true. And we can only get out of this mess by cutting spending on the part of governments. Stop the stupid wars, too. It will hurt short-term, but if we keep kicking the can down the road, we only prolong the pain. This is a rich, powerful country with resources, both natural and human, that match or exceed any country on earth. We can save ourselves from a lingering demise if we confront the problem directly and stop calling it a recession with recovery on the horizon.
The first step is to declare the truth: We are in a depression. Period. Even though things seem to cost the same as they did before.