Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Price of a Shave

I was out of razor blades. I tend to use a razor blade until it literally hurts. A box of 5 razor blade cartridges will last a long time.

While at the store to pick up a prescription refill at the pharmacy, I remembered I needed to get some more razor blades. I was hit with sticker shock. The package I usually get was priced almost $ 3.00 more then what I paid the last time. What's up with that???!!!

OK. The scrap metal yards have got to the point they need the security of a Fort Knox to keep the scrap metal thieves out. The scrap metal thieves are thriving because the price of metals is going up. So I reason I should expect the price of my razor blades will be going to go up. I get the blades, pick up my prescription, pay up, and head home.

But there is more.

In the morning I' reached that point in the morning ritual where it's time to shave. I take my trusty razor out, pop off the old razor cartridge and reach for a new one.

What in the world is this? My old cartridge has three small metal blades. The new cartridge has only two small metal blades. I check the rest of the blade cartridges in the new box. Two blades! That's all they had. What's up with that???!!!

There I am! Not only do I have to pay more for my razor blades, but I'm getting 1/3 less for my money. More for less!!! Bummer......

You've heard of booming economies in places like China and India and other countries clawing their way out of 3rd world status into the industrialized age. That's why metal prices are going up. The increasing demand in these industrializing countries is creating demand that is driving metal prices up, up, up.

And it's not just metals. Raw chemical materials used in the manufacturing process; soda ash, per-carbonate, enzymes, surfactants, and etc, all the different kinds of stuff going into the household products you take for granted. Worldwide demand is going up and so are prices.

The scramble is on to develop alternative sources, alternative materials, and alternative formulations. R&D is more vital then ever.

As I thought of this another thought came into my mind. Would it not indeed be ironic if capitalism and free enterprise ended up being the great leveler that Marx thought Communism would be? Would it not be ironic that as the poorer countries in the world move towards wealth and plenty, we in the developed countries found our standard of living actually lower because of the price pressures from a growing world wide marketplace?

Of course as prices escalate, market forces are suppose to find answers through innovation and all the other things free markets are suppose to do. And I believe for the most part that will happen, but there is in the back of my mind the idea that when you get to the bottom line, we who have much will be learning to get along with less. That’s not entirely bad. After all… “Man does not live by bread alone…”

Shaloam... ~ The Billy Goat ~

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