Saturday, 8 July 2006

The cost of living

I noticed this week that in celebration of the new financial year, The Age has raised its price from $1.20 to $1.40.
Now you can say that 20c don't matter much, and to be fair I don't really remember when the paper's last price hike took place; but what I do know is that the Australian CPI (inflation index) has been around the 3% mark for the last few years, and so in order to justify this 17% price rise they would have needed more than 5 years on the old price, and I severely doubt they haven't touched their price for more than 5 years.
And therefore I cannot think of this price hike as anything other than greed.
What troubles me is that this phenomenon is not exclusive to The Age. Prices are on the rise everywhere, and have been on the rise for a long while before the price of gas became a viable excuse. And when prices rise, they rise big time.
Stupidly enough, the first time I noticed the phenomenon I was shopping for margarine. Jo & I used to buy (and we actually still buy, but in reduced quantities) this expensive margarine that's supposed to reduce your cholesterol (by preventing its absorption). A couple of years ago it was priced at around $6.00 to $6.50 per half a kilo; and then, all of a sudden, about a year ago, it became $8.00; just like that, suddenly, out of the blue. Why? Greed is why.
Since then I keep noticing it all over the place. People assume they can get away with it, they raise their prices, and obviously - they are getting away with it, as evidenced by the fact they keep doing it more and more. It's aided by the general Australian lifestyle of spending more and more and borrowing more and more in order to spend more because tomorrow we'll die - a sort of a live for today, fuck tomorrow attitude that is heavily encouraged by the government (which relies on the interest rate increases scare campaign to force those who over borrowed to re-elect the government). Not that the Victorian Labor government invests much in infrastructure - they're just as big money wasters as the federal government.

When I came to Australia as a tourist back in 2001 I was amazed at how cheap things were compared to Israel.
When I came to Australia four years ago I was amazed at how cheap supermarket shopping and food shopping were.
Now I'm pissed with constant price hikes, the fact that almost everything - paperbacks, serves at restaurants - always costs $19.95, regardless of how good it is.
In short: I'm pissed off. But I'll probably continue buying The Age on Thursdays, if only because there is no alternative that is as good as their Green Guide and Livewire. You can say that this is what the free market is all about; I say this is greed.

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