Monday, November 07, 2005

Hate: Overpriced Things

Many of the things that I will be sharing with you in this whole blog thing will probably be painfully obvious. I'm guessing that this is one of them. Just like Beavis (or was it Butthead?) said: I don't like things that suck!

As I said in an earlier post, I am addicted to mocha latte's from Starbucks. I love them. If I could, I would marry a mocha latte'. I would buy it a ring, walk down the aisle with it and exchange vows with it. After a nice reception and dancing to the chicken dance, we would jet off to the Mediterranean for a week and then settle down for a nice little life. However, besides that I hate the frickin' chicken dance, I couldn't afford it. I've already resigned myself to the fact that my kids will be going to community college because I spend so much money on VentiNonfatNowhipMochaLatte's. Imagine how much I would spend if I was married to it! If those things weren't so damned overpriced, though, my kids could still attend a good college. Which brings me to today's silliness.

I work in the auto industry, the most screwed-up industry in the world. Understanding and reducing cost is a big part of my job and one of the things that I've learned is that cost and price don't have anything to do with each other. Boys and girls, how much do you think it costs to make that beloved mocha latte' of mine? Let's just make some big broad guesses, shall we? For the purposes of today's discussion, we'll leave out the cost of the herion. Milk = 25 cents, mocha goodness = 50 cents, cup = 10 cents, lid = 5 cents, java jacket = 5 cents. According to my cypherin' that adds up to a cool 95 cents. Ok, maybe I have to add in 25 cents to send to Mecca (that would be Starbuck's HQ) for various marketing and overhead crap. Now I'm up to $1.20. MSRP on this stuff is $3.55. That means that Mr. Starbuck is getting $2.35 in profit for every one they sell! Good God, people!! Perhaps the UAW wokers at Delphi should start making mocha latte's instead of poorly-designed, poorly-manufactured widgets for the overstuffed, backwards-thinking, fat-cats at GM! Imagine a whole factory churning out mocha latte's with 200% profit margin on every one. Mind you, Delphi would surely screw it up given enough time, but for a while that would be a sweet gig!

Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of capitalism. This is true despite some graffiti that I saw in Ann Arbor way back when I was in school that said simply "capitalism, schmapitalism" that still makes me chuckle today. I also understand the whole concept of supply and demand but I'm not prepared to pull a Rosa Parks and boycott Starbuck's. She is a bigger man than I am in that regard and she's dead and a woman besides! If you can make a buck or two or three, my brother, you just go right ahead. I just don't like it when it's so obvious. If you're going to screw me, at least turn out the lights so I don't see you doing it!

What's worse than getting hosed by overpriced stuff is when the price of really overpriced stuff goes down so it's only overpriced instead of really overpriced. I have one word for you: gasoline. It's a great day when gas is ONLY $2.25, isn't it my fellow sheep?! Hey, everybody,I got a great deal on gas today - it was only $2.19! Huh?! What?! Exsqueeze me?! Since when is that a good deal? I'll tell you when - When you compare it to the hosejob we were getting when it was $2.99, that's when! Our European friends have no sympathy for us because they've been getting hosed for years. I'm sure Jean-Claude is having a laugh over his croissant at us Yankee dogs having to pay that much for a gallon of petrol. Bite me, Jean-Cleaude!

I actually went to to understand the price breakdown of gasoline. According to this highly informational website, the two big components of gas PRICE are refining and crude oil. (Please see above where I mention that cost and price don't have anything to do with each other...) Makes sense. A couple months ago, those poor bastards in New Orleans had to dodge flying oil rigs which cut into the daily production of crude oil - I understand that. Apparently, though, the big oil companies are able to still eke out a little money at this game because both British Petroleum (BP) and Exxon Mobil (XOM) are back to trading at the same price as they were prior to the Hurricane-o-Rama. As a matter of fact, for the first month after Katrina hit, both stocks increased in value. If you're a stockholder, you'll be happy to know that both are trading about $20 higher than where they were 2 years ago. If you're just a schlub like me driving a bunch of miles to work every day, you might not care so much.

I'm convinced that the CEO's of the oil companies got together and created those hurricanes themselves. I can just picture them setting down their brandy snifters just long enough to wring their hands together as they discuss ways to create an "emergency" so they can drive up prices:
Oil CEO #1 (while wringing hands): I need more money. $1000000000000 isn't enough!
Oil CEO #2 (in full hand-wringing mode): I'm as rich as God! Too bad I can't control the weather like God does."
Oil CEO #1: That's it, by Jiminy! I'll have one of my minions create a few hurricanes!
Oil CEO #2: Great idea! Just don't let that punk George Bush screw it up! He'll have everyone out buying hybrids. That boy seems to have forgotten how he got his money to buy his presidency!
Oil CEO #1: Good point. I'll make sure that it hits New Orleans. Lots of Black people there and you know how George hates them!
Louis Farakhan: Yeah, and George blew up the levees too!

Believe me, I don't know what the "right" price is for that delicious mocha latte' that I drink or for the gasoline that my car drinks. There are some things that are priced correctly, I think. I just can't think of any right now. Maybe something that falls off the back of the truck or that your friend gets for you through his brother-in-law's cousin's girlfriend's step-father. I have a friend who hooks me up for seats to the Detroit Pistons games. I could give a rat's ass about the Pistons but when it says "Comp" where it usually says $37.50, I know the price is right! I have another friend who is a bartender at the Rosebud in Grand Haven. He usually throws a beer my way when I come in. Do I think that the tasty Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is worth $3.50 out of the tap when I can get a six-pack for $7 at the grocery store? No sirree, Bob. Do I think that it's worth free? Damn skippy!

Let's review: I hate overpriced stuff. I like capitalism. I hate getting hosed. I like taking advantage of my friends when they give me free stuff. If you own an oil refinery I'll be your bestest friend! In the meantime, I'm going to load up on a bunch of plastic bottles that cost 5 cents, print some labels that say "John's Water" for 2 cents, fill the bottles at my kitchen sink for a penny and sell it to Louis Farakhan for $1.25 a bottle. If he buys a gross of them, I'll knock it down to a buck apiece. Due to this dramatic loss of revenue, I'd have to skip the week in Aspen this year but I'm willing to cut old Louis a deal because I'm just a hell of a guy!


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It's funny how I was looking for this type of thing and found your post: Hate: Overpriced Things. It pulled me right out of my research on sports rash guards products and allowed me to sit down for a nice read. Thanks for your great job John from Grand Haven, MI. I think I'll hang out on your blog for a while and be done with sports rash guards stuff for now. Have a good day John from Grand Haven, MI.

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