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30 October 2005
I heard an announcement on the news last night that oil companies have just made the largest profit ever. Exxon's profits rose $6 billion dollars in the past 3 months, while we were paying ever higher prices at the pump.
I admit I don't understand economics. I don't even pretend to. The price of a barrel of oil goes up, oil companies gouge the consumer, oil companies rake in the profits and that is somehow good for the economy. Now, however, the government is considering whether or not the oil companies should be hit with a hefty tax on the obscene profits they made this year.
Now...excuse me, but does this make sense? The oil companies charge us too much, we have to pay it and then the government takes a tax on the oil company's profits. Does any of that filter down to the consumer?
Of course not.
It reminded me of a couple of years ago when we had the energy crisis here in California. The cost of electricity to heat a home was obscene. I remember that Priscilla, my low income friend with AIDS, lived in a teeny (3 room) house and had cut back on everything she could possibly cut back on, and her electricity bill was over $300 a month (more than we were paying for our 2100 sq. ft. home). Each month when I would drive her to her doctor's appointment she would cry that she didn't know how she was going to be able to find the money to pay the electricity bill and she would pass up getting groceries because she couldn't afford them.
So a year later it was shown that there was some corruption or colusion or whatever and the electric companies were fined. Did the consumers who were being gouged get anything from that fine? Did we get a discount on our electricity to help repay us for the money we had paid a year before?
Of course not.
I have become very cynical in my old age. I am morphing into my father. I don't believe what the government tells me. I don't believe there is a happily ever after. I don't believe Karl Rove is blameless. I don't believe we have to stay the course and kill more kids in Iraq. I don't believe we will ever be able to get out of the Middle East in the foreseeable future. I don't read the news because I have this fatalistic feeling that it's all useless and why upset myself (though I do continue to watch the news on TV).
And then there are just the day to day irritations. I hadn't been to the supermarket in a couple of weeks, so today was the day to restock the larder.
And if that isn't an exercise in depression, I don't know what is.
I thought it might be nice to have a roast beef for dinner on Sunday night. I checked the roasts. There were two six pound roasts, one for $40 and the other for $61. Sixty-one dollars for six pounds of beef!!!!
All the nutritionists tell us that we should include some fish in our diets every week, but have you priced fish? It's great to say that we should all have a nice piece of salmon a couple of times each week, but how do you tell your banker that you need to mortgage the house so you can buy a piece of salmon?
It's no wonder we're a nation with a weight problem. When the fast food joints can offer cheeseburgers for $1 and you have to pay $60 for roast beef or $10/lb for salmon, cheeseburgers start to look very appealing.
I considered telling Walt that we would have to become vegetarians because we couldn't afford to eat meat or fish any more, but you can't even get a break in the produce aisle (unless you're buying potatoes, which still seem to be affordable).
I used to think it was outrageous when I had to pay 40¢ a pound for bananas, and now I think that I'm lucky if I can find them for 59¢.
A small package of tomatoes costs nearly $5.
After all the food shows on TV, I thought I'd be adventurous and try some chantarelle mushrooms, which I then discovered were $9 a pound. I guess that at that price I can't afford to be adventurous.
They say that "large" artichokes are 99¢ each for what I would call "medium" size artichokes.
Have you checked the price of salad dressings? $3-$5 a (small) bottle (well, at least I can make my own, if necessary).
You're lucky if you can find butter (sorry, but I just can't do margarine or "like-butter" spreads) for under $3 these days. The price of butter is rising side by side with the price of gasoline.
Cereals are ridiculously priced.
When we were first married, I had a budget of $20 a week for groceries. When the kids were growing up it sometimes cost $100 a week to feed the seven of us plus however many foreign students were here, and I felt guilty about that. Now with only two of us at home, groceries regularly cost me $100 a week
If I can afford the gas to pay to get me to the supermarket, or the energy it takes to cook the food when I get home.
(I know there are places around here where I can buy things
cheaper; I know there are things I can do to reduce the cost of food [so don't write and
give me suggestions], but this entry came out of sticker shock at seeing a small $60
roast, and a bit of exaggeration for the sake of entertainment.)
PHOTO OF THE DAY
The dogs are damned lucky that I can't sew!