Friday, May 20, 2016

SCORE! Yes, I Do "$24.99 Like Them"

Forget all the nonsense about market forces at work yada yada... I got results by "taking it to the streets."  You don't know me but I'm your bruuuuthaaaa....

So Jesse Jackson and I smoked a blunt, walked into the office of the Meijer General Manager and chanted "Hey hey, ho ho, $40 Cub Trunks are a ripoff, Yo"  Our persistence paid off, and he gave them to me for $25.

Not really.  The market at work.  They weren't moving at $40.  They weren't moving at $30. BUT, alas, they came down to $24.99.  So, I snatched them up.

Back when they were languishing at $30, I sent the link to the post below to update my Uncle, who has been following the Cub Trunk Chronicles quite closely.  As to the $30 price, he made this observation:

"Make sure your size doesn't disappear.....yeah, I know, I missed the point. LOL!" 

Now, he was joking, of course... but he made a good point, maybe unknowingly.  Fear of potential scarcity could lead to an increase in demand.  In fact, that was a large reason as to why I pounced today.  I could wait until they go down to $19.99, but the chances that they will be gone quickly at that price pushed my demand up for them a bit higher.

And ladies.... I look goooood in them.  Hopefully since my Cubs have dropped three of their last four this will bring some good Karma.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Well, Well, WELLLLL....

Remember these?

Meijer is recognizing the wonders of Elasticity of Demand.

Still not ready to buy.

I'll wait another two weeks

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

I Like It. I Don't $40 Like It. - A Primer On Prices

I've stated on these pages in the past that I have very little patience with those who decry "price gouging" in a market economy.  Competition and the flow of information to consumers in a Market Economy make "price gouging" virtually impossible.  Consumers will only part with their money when they value what the seller is offering more than they value to money they have in hand.

Early yesterday morning I dropped my wife off at the train station and made a quick, pre-workday run to the local Meijer for a bag of pool shock (having a nightmare this year keeping the chlorine level where I need it, but I digress) and to grab something to feed the four legged girls.  On the way from the pool section to the grocery aisles I stumbled upon these.  As you know, the Cubs are the real deal this season and I've been a long suffering fan for a decade now.

CUBS SWIM TRUNKS - I threw the brakes on.  HOW NICE ARE THOSE?

They are made from a very nice material, have the tie waste band, probably make that whooshing sound when you walk, which is great because it annoys my wife.  The logo is quality.  Man, are those nice.  How much?

What?  $40??  That's crazy, there is no way I'm paying that much for them.  So I hesitantly walked on after taking the picture.

What do you think the store manager would have said had I complained about the excessive price?  

He'd be courteous, of course, but as a corporate entity there is very little he could have done to meet me at a lower price.  In his inner monologue, he'd call me a kook.  

Do I like the Cubs trunks?  Of course.  However, I don't "$40 Like Them."  That's something that I often say when I see something that I like that I don't desire more than the cash I have in hand to get it.  As a consumer, that's my option.

Of course, there are other providers that can offer something similar at a better rate.  I'll be more likely at this juncture to pay $25 for something like this.

Now, I may walk by them a couple more times over the course of the coming weeks and change my mind (they are damn nice).  But for now, I value my $40 more than I value the trunks.  Again, they are nice, but not "$40 Nice."

I have some frothing-at-the-mouth Cub Fanboys as friends who would disagree and pay $40 or even more.  Why, because they value the Trunks more than the $40 in hand.  To them, they ARE "$40 Nice."  I'm not there yet.

So, what does all this have to do with my angst over the Gas Outters and other whining Price Gouging Fascists?  Because prices are an indication of where a competitive market is for a given product.  Put another way, as Don Boudreaux, Russ Roberts and Mike Munger often say on the EconTalk Podcasts (recommended highly, by the way), "Prices are merely signals that give feedback to producers."

It goes this way.  The producer of these trunks have a cost associated with producing them.  Like every entity in business, there needs to be a reward for the effort of producing them.  What is the value (put aside the financial suicide of the company if they did) of producing something and selling it for exactly what it costs?  The Cubs Swim Trunks Charity would fail miserably because it would be unsustainable.

But on the flip side, if the producer put $15 into making a pair of these things and tried to charge $150 for them, would they sell (just for the exercise, we'll forgo the markup that Meijer adds)?  If they did, that's a good racket to be in.  But a competitor entering the market is going to see this disparity and sell them for $35.  If the $150 provider has any business sense, he'll see that consumers don't value his product about their $150, and that his rival sees the disparity and is willing to take $20 profit over nothing.  So what does the $150 provider do, when he realizes his product is not "$150 good"?  He's going to get in line with the market.  He had better, or the $35 producer will take his customer-base off at the knees.  That is what economist talk of when they refer to "elasticity of demand."  Products like the $40 Cub Trunks have a VERY elastic demand as a general rule.  That is to say, demand for the product (ie, willing to pay a price for them) is very reactionary to price.  I don't need them "$40 bad".  The demand for them has a close tie to what they cost, and will fluctuate with a change in price.

By contrast, things like Insulin... and yes, Gasoline... will have a largely inelastic demand.  There are few viable substitutes for them so consumption will (mostly) remain constant even when prices rise.  However, two very important points.  First, inelasticity of demand doesn't mean that consumption will always be constant as prices increase for these goods.  The JAM PACKED trains of Metra in Summer of 2008 are a case in point here, as the price of gas was well over an agonizing $4/gallon.  It simply means that the consumption of products with inelastic demand will not vary as wildly as Cub Trunk consumption.  Second, and this is key: even within inelastic markets, there is still competition among providers to keep prices in check.  Witness the generic drug market or, the way gas stations sit right next to each other, changing prices in concert with one another in either direction.  They want to maximize profit to stay in business but the market - the station right next door - sets the rules.  I can charge $4 a gallon when the BP next door has it for $2.25... but I'm not going to sell a whole lot.  

One more thing on gas prices... scarcity makes market prices imperative.  Jeff's Golden Law of Markets: In a market where goods are in demand but limited in supply, SOMETHING has to ration.  Either the market (that is to say, the pricing system I describe above), or a corruptible authority (a government or government entity).  This is especially true in health care.  I could go see the doctor when I cut my finger slicing onions, but the expense of shelling out his premium is cost prohibitive, even with insurance.  So I use Neosporin and a BandAid.  But if the cost is free?  Everyone will want my Doctor's time (which is limited) and something of authority will have to ration, eventually.  Then who's politically connected?  Something tells me that Fortune 500 CEO's family will always have access to health care in that situation, but the struggling single mother will have almost no options because she's not politically connected.  When demand is tied exclusively to market prices, its manageable without weaselly Democrat Politicians brokering it for their own ends.  That's why, I'd rather let people ride Metra until the market returns sanity to the gas prices (which is tied largely to oil production).  Its better for everyone involved when they understand the system.

So I'll hang on to the $40 for now and use the worn out trunks with the hole in the crotch.  When my demand for Cubs shorts changes, I'll reconsider.  Not now.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

If You Can Read This Without Cheering....

You are either a protectionist Trump Humper or have no pulse. Posted in it's entirety from National Review Online, by David French. Bold Emphasis Mine.

It is remarkable the extent to which discussions of free trade begin by reflecting back on an extraordinary moment in human history — the almost generation-long apex of American economic hegemony when the United States was the only great industrial power left unscathed by World War II. While Germany, France, and Japan rebuilt economies from the ruin of war, Britain lost its empire, and the vast human potential of India and China was largely untapped, American industry ruled the day. Union jobs paid well and sons could follow their fathers into the local plant and earn enough money to raise a family. And while America wasn’t immune to the business cycle, for a decade or two after the war its manufacturing prowess was unmatched.
This hegemony could never last. The great industrial powers weren’t going to remain rubble forever. China wasn’t going to remain a poor, agrarian society forever. Neither was India. And when they revived, Germans and Japanese and Chinese were going to be just as ambitious as Americans. Moreover, the American industrial hegemony was going to face internal competition. In the immediate postwar era, the American South was the land time forgot — disproportionately agrarian and crippled by Jim Crow. It would not remain an economic backwater.

Compounding the inevitable challenges, we tend to forget how much America squandered its advantages — how we gave other countries a competitive edge through our own failures. Take the car industry. By the 1970s, the Big Three automakers were making terrible cars. Poorly designed by white-collar workers, shoddily manufactured by blue-collar workers, they were failing the American people at an unacceptable rate.

I’m old enough to remember those cars. How could I forget? I remember my dad buying a brand-new Dodge that stalled whenever it rained. The upholstery literally fell off the roof of our Chevrolet. A Ford somehow leaked antifreeze onto our feet. And it’s no wonder: In many plants, the culture was completely broken. Here’s how one researcher, Jeffrey Liker, described the environment in a General Motors plant in Fremont, Calif.:
One of the expressions was, you can buy anything you want in the GM plant in Fremont. If you want sex, if you want drugs, if you want alcohol, it’s there. During breaks, during lunch time, if you want to gamble illegally — any illegal activity was available for the asking within that plant.
The high-paying job for life produces perverse incentives:
Because the workers were stuck there, because they could not find anything close to that level of job, and pay, and benefits, at their level of education and skill. So they were trapped there. And they also felt like, we have a job for life, and the union will always protect us. So we’re stuck here, and it’s long term, and then all these illegal things crop up so we can entertain ourselves while we’re stuck here.
Does that sound like the good old days? Car manufacturers — management and labor — were failing, and Americans paid the price.

Then along came Honda and Toyota. For American families, an inexpensive car that runs, reliably, for sometimes 200,000 miles or more is an enormous economic and psychological blessing. There’s no need to worry about breakdowns. The family budget isn’t strained by expensive repairs. Free trade helped American families. Competition proved healthy for the vast majority of Americans. American cars are better. Foreign cars are better, and many “foreign” vehicles are now American-made. Indeed, the list of the top seven most “American-made” cars (parts and assembly) includes two Toyotas and a Honda. The Toyota Camry tops the list.

To hear the rhetoric, “trade deals” are now a top reason for national stagnation. Populists see free trade as a scam perpetuated on the American people for the sake of the elite’s stock options and private jets. It’s all the “donor class” foisting oppression and misery on America.

This is nonsense. America has largely embraced free trade not for the sake of the few but because it has benefited the many. Families benefit from less expensive goods. We enjoy affordable access to technology unthinkable ten short years ago, with even poor families owning smartphones and televisions that couldn’t be bought for any sum of money even last decade. By virtually every measure of material progress, we have access to more for less than ever before — so much so that our primary national spiritual challenges include consumerism and materialism.

When you hear Donald Trump claim that he can magically negotiate “winning” trade deals with China or Japan, here’s what it means in the real world: more expensive goods at home as tariffs drive up prices, and less opportunity for exports abroad as trading partners retaliate with import restrictions of their own. We won’t see textile mills spring open across the land — we’ll just pay more for shirts and socks.

That’s not to say that there’s nothing that can be done for workers displaced by the changing economy. For one thing, we can and should control our borders and restrict immigration levels to prevent an uncontrolled influx of low-skill workers from flooding already-strained labor markets. We can stop the Trump practice of giving away American jobs to foreign workers by limiting legal immigration. We can work to repair broken public-education systems that graduate students unprepared for global competition — and that’s hardly a comprehensive or exhaustive list.

But we cannot turn back the clock. The glory days of American manufacturing were but a blip on the historical radar screen, the product of unique conditions that — we pray — will never exist again. Who wants to see the rest of the world in ruins?

Critically, we cannot forget that change can be painful. People suffer, and it is our responsibility as fellow citizens to help however we can. But it is also the responsibility of the American worker to adapt and adjust — as he’s always done before.

Americans are not victims. Americans compete. And the day we surrender our competitive spirit is the day we give in to national decline.

— David French is an attorney and a staff writer at National Review.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Channeling My Inner Kook

Just finished breakfast in my Springfield, IL hotel room this morning, and feel the urge on Super Tuesday to float my theory about the Trump Candidacy and the disaster it is for the Republican Party.

I've been very vocal on these pages over the years about my contempt for conspiracy theory kooks.  I'm looking at you, booger eating 9/11 Truthers.  In a day and age of 24/7 news media, in a nation of rich Judeo Christian tradition, the idea that multiple people could keep secrets of dastardly doings without a credible media source getting wind of the conspiracy and blowing it wide open is just too far fetched.  I can't buy it, especially the type of orchestrated secrecy that would have to be pulled off for 9/11 to be an inside job.  You have to WANT the conspiracy to be true to cling to it in this fashion.

That said - the whole Trump Campaign reeks of a plot from the Clinton War Room.  If I had to put money on it, would I say this?  No.  Still, there is a part of me that can't help but channel my inner kook and marvel at the possibility.

Here's the scenario: the Clintons are NOT stupid people.  Devious, power hungry, and cunning?  Oh yes.  But not Stupid.

They know Hillary Clinton is a polarizing figure with a LOT of baggage.  Even
in the day of the Entitlement Class and the XBox American, she is a tough sell.

They know Flyover Country is hungry for the anti-Obama.

They know there are a lot of people who detest rampant illegal immigration, are frustrated by jobs going over seas, are flag waving Americans who see the nation they grew up in being transformed to something they don't recognize.  And sadly, they are people who generally only follow politics closely in an election season.

They know the professional wrestling equivelant of Mr America spitting out vague comments like "Make American Great Again" and that he "can't be bought by Lobbyists and Special Interest" and that he wants to build a wall and make the deviant Mexican Government pay for it will score huge points with this same group of well meaning but easily frenzied citizens.

So, enter into the mix, Donald Trump.  Close to Democrats his entire life.  Loves attention and flattery.  Ego the size of Manhattan.  Expresses disgust and outrage at the things that matter to the Populists.  He's a hit with the everyday Populist described above.  The perfect foil.

The Clinton War Room knows that there is a sizeable contingent of us in the Republican Party that are horrified at the prospect of this clownish fraud being our nominee, much less our president.  The War Room knows that we will move heaven and earth to make sure Donald Trump ISN'T the standard bearer of the party, and that this will make the targeted Populists double down on their support for him.  Civil War in the Party.

The Clintons win in either of these two scenarios .... Trump on the Republican Ticket that can be made to look like a complete heartless mongrel in the General Election, a clown when compared to Hillary's statesman-like demeanor, compassion and "sensible solutions". 

The Clintons also win with a third party Trump that will split the Republican Vote ala 1992 and 1996.  And you know the Trump Humpers out there will defect to third party Trump in droves.  Not enough to win the general election but enough to screw the traditional Republican and annoint Hillary the next President.  

And of course, as part of the Conspiracy - for whatever reason - Trump happily plays the role he's assigned to play.

My inner Kook tells me its true.  I'm still too afraid of being labeled a kook for glamming on to the theory whole heartedly.... but I can't help but wonder.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Two Trends Creating the Perfect Storm

First, the rise of militant Islam in the West, committing Mass Murder in the US and Europe.  Suicidal Iran on the verge of a nuclear weapon.  They will gladly trade thousands of their own deaths for thousands of ours.

San Bernardino Muslim Massacre

Paris Attacks - Muslims Massacre Civilians

Muslims Massacre Cartoonists in France 

Muslim Brothers Bomb Boston Marathon

Suicidal Iran Seeks a Nuclear Weapon

Second Trend, college aged kids, the leaders of tomorrow, protesting on campus, insisting on "safe spaces" and financial concessions.

College Students make Financial Demands

College Students Demand Safe Spaces

College Students are "frightened" by Confederate Flag

Trend one presents an existential threat to Free People in the West.  Suicidal Islamists ideologies seek to force Westerners to submit to Islam or being killed.  Only a resolute, up and coming generation of young people who have the mental and physical fortitude to defend the Western way of life can stop them in the years ahead, when they will undoubtedly be stronger, more equiped, and determined.

Unfortunately, there is trend two.

Trend two shows that large numbers of the leaders of tomorrow are obsessed with the wealth of others, not being offended by flags, and demanding Safe Spaces.

Memo to the leaders of tomorrow: there are no safe spaces in the war zone of Militant Islam vs Freedom.  There are only winners and losers.

Get on board or bow to Mecca five times a day, Safe Spacers.  Make a choice.

As for me, Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Paris, Obama, The Jesus Comparison and Other Assorted Rants

Generally speaking, when I'm upset about my professional life - like I am now, I won't bore you, dear patron of JGAH with the details - that's usually when I'm primed to go ballistic with my writing.  Haven't had rants in a while.

In the wake of the terror attacks in Paris, the Left, and their prinicipal mouth piece, Barack Obama, still refuse to admit that we are at war with a radical version of Islam.  Recently the President (who in his lame duck days is acting more like a condescending king than an elected official) took to the podium in Turkey to talk about how America is "not going to lead" and that we are not going to discuss victory.  He urges patience.  And to move forward with allowing military aged refuges into the United States from War Torn Syria.  Suddenly the man who doesn't believe in American Exceptionalism knows enough about America to tell us "what our nature is" as Americans with regards to accepting refugees out of compassion.  Mr President... if a Paris-style attack happens on American soil, and we can in any way, shape or form trace those attacks back to any of these refugees, THE BLOOD OF THOSE DEAD AMERICANS WILL BE ALL OVER YOUR HANDS.  And you can bet your Faculty Lounge Ass that we will make sure the world and your toady Media know it.

Here's the common flowchart for the Left when it comes to Conservatives/Christians:

Do Conservatives and Christians disapprove of a person or group's motives, or are they suspicious that this person or group means anyone ill will? ----->; Yes ---->; Compare said person or group to Jesus.  You think I'm exaggerating?  Today, from HuffPo's Twitter account:
— Huffington Post Blog (@HuffPostBlog) November 20, 2015

There you have it... before you suspect that some of the refugees from war torn Syria may be here to do us harm, remember that Jesus was once a refugee with a fake passport, a Quran, and a knife for disembowling.

Remember when Republicans were ripping then-Candidate Obama's qualifications to be the leader of the free world, given that the only work experience he ever really had was as a Community Organizer?  Remember the defense of some of his supporters?  "Jesus was a Community Organizer".  There you have it, he's qualified to be leader of the Free World because, like Jesus, Obama went into the poor communities and railed for CeaserCare and for the equal distribution of bread and fish.  You can always tell when the Left's preferred group or candidate isn't wowing Conservatives and Christians, cause out rolls the Jesus Comparison.

Is it too much to ask the Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces to put as much passion into defending the nation from attack as he does attacking his political and ideological rivals?

Is it too much to ask that, in a time when roving gangs of Islamists are yanking people off the streets and cutting off their heads elsewhere in the world that he take every possible precaution to make sure that doesn't happen here in the US?

Is it too much to ask the man who's "too busy" playing golf and going on late night TV to discuss victory with his fellow Americans in the Republican party over this threat?

Is it too much to ask that Barack Obama put his Leftist ideology aside and consider the safety of the people he's sworn to protect as Commander in Chief?

Is it too much to ask that Barack get as pissed off and animated about the actions of Islamists threatening the West as he did about the "poor treatment" of Professor Gates at the hands of Police?

Is it too much to ask that this guy gets as upset about Militant Islam as he does over black thugs like Treyvon Martin and Michae Brown being killed?

Is it too much to ask of Barack Obama that he actually care about the future of the nation that enables a spoiled, coddled little brat like himself to rise to the heights he's risen?

Dear Lord, January 2017 can't come fast enough.  My only prayer is that Paris doesn't come to Chicago.  With this ideological imbecile protecting us, that may be too much to ask.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

David French Nails It at NRO

Great Piece - bold/italicized emphasis mine.  Spot on.

"Hovering over the feeding frenzy is the absurd media spectacle of mainstream reporters claiming they’re merely 'doing their job' by diving into 50-year-old details of Ben Carson’s childhood. The same reporters who were not just incurious about the details of Barack Obama’s background in 2008 but actively hostile to those who asked reasonable questions about his relationship with admitted domestic terrorist Bill Ayers and his years of religious instruction from Jeremiah 'God Damn America' Wright."

"At the end of the day, what are we left with? An admirable though imperfect man who rose from abject poverty to the pinnacle of one of the most challenging professions in the nation — all while never forgetting his roots, maintaining grace and humility even as he earned riches and honors. In fact, his life story — and his character — would make him one of the most inspiring Americans ever to occupy the Oval Office. But he’s a direct threat not just to leftist narratives regarding race and class but also to the leftist stranglehold on the black vote. And for that reason alone he must be destroyed."

"A 'high-tech lynching' is again underway, but if recent history is any guide, the Left’s attempt to strike down Carson will only make him stronger."

Aside from Carson's great life story, what I've enjoyed about his candidacy more than anything is the chance to throw the charge of racism at any white Leftist who criticizes him.  Its been delicious to give the American Left a taste of its own non-sensical medicine.