CATEGORY: COL Columns (Journal)

AUTHOR: MORRIS

HED:Does anybody really want to work harder?

By M. Scott Morris

Daily Journal

They increased the price of snack foods at the Daily Journal commissary. A bag of Bugles now runs 50 cents rather than the much more reasonable price of 45 cents.

Ordinarily, such gouging is cause for fury and condemnation. A man must have his Bugles, and any effort to exact even a penny more constitutes deliberate extortion.

When people raise prices, it becomes necessary to make more money, which means working harder. I don't want to work harder.

Luckily, I won't have to for now. The increase in the price of empty, junk food calories was offset by a corresponding decrease in the cost of Dr. Pepper.

One of the only doubts I had about coming to work for the mighty Daily Journal was the fact Dr. Pepper cost a whole 5 cents more than Pepsi. After several hours of deep thought, soul searching and one heck of an office picnic at Tombigbee State Park (a guy hammered stuff up his nose), I came to terms with the Journal's soft drink disparity.

Then the price of Dr. Pepper dropped 5 cents. Of course, this was no reason to celebrate because the combined cost of a snack break remained $1. And that's because overfed corporate price-fixing paper pushers at Bugle International decided honest Americans should pay more for the honor of eating their precious product.

You may be asking yourself, "What's the big deal about a measly 5 cents?" As every politician who ever tried to raise funds for a campaign has said, "It's not the money, it's the principle."

(Politicians always appear sincere when they say stuff like that, which makes you wonder about the nature of sincerity.)

It's the whole "give them an inch, they'll take a mile" theory proved true when assorted Native American tribes actually offered a bunch of sincere-looking Europeans an inch just to find out what would happen. While the theory was validated, Native Americans could not in good conscience call the experiment a success.

Nowadays, the theory can be modified to say, "Give inflation an inch and it'll take your house." During my very early formative years in the '70s, I learned Watergate was not a bridge and the inflation index can make normal human beings yell at the TV news in a most uncivilized fashion.

Announcer: "The government revealed everything costs more today than yesterday and predicted it will all cost more tomorrow."

Adult authority figure in home of impressionable youth (me): "Tell us something we don't already know, you %$*&)@^%#!!!!!!"

Such exchanges were good for developing a vocabulary that impressed my friends at school. They also drove home the unmistakable point that no matter how hard you yell at the TV, it doesn't listen.

You should've heard the racket when the cost of Dr. Pepper went from 20 cents to 25 cents. A bag of Bugles cost 15 cents in those days, so the combined cost of an unhealthy snack break was a full 40 cents.

I remember having to change my entire begging scheme. It took more sincere whimpering to scam 40 cents off my parents than it did to collect 35 cents. As my parents said at the time, "It's not the money, it's the principle. If you want the extra 5 cents, you're going to have to work harder."

That's what it all comes down to - working harder. The only reason people raise prices is because they get some perverse thrill out of making unsuspecting people work harder. It's sickening.

I don't feel like doing any more arithmetic, but trust me when I say if this alarming trend toward higher prices continues, we'll all end up spending more. That means more work. We don't want that.

M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal staff writer.

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