So how are you managing your shrinking dollar?
As the Loonie continues its downward spiral, anyone paying attention to the news is au courant with the sorry state of the Canadian economy and the pressure many Canadian households are enduring as they try to keep up with the increasing cost of living, what we’re paying for just about everything we consume or otherwise use in our daily lives.
Regardless of our particular financial stations in life, we’re all feeling the pinch, or the punch. One thing is certain: the cost of living is almost off the charts, with more and more people trying to hang on in the rough economy.
At the top of the list of people’s concerns is food; without at least a little bit in our stomachs daily as we negotiate the supermarket aisles and price check [our usual] products, what with prices seemingly increasing overnight, we’re in trouble. And then there are the utility and other bills to deal with. Any problem doing either of those things means “things are rough” and it’s time to join the growing crowds and extending lines at the food banks, the last resort for many, including some of whom have lived… been living beyond their means, lost their jobs (or whatever) and must now face a new reality as whatever they had in those other banks dwindle…
Me? I’ve been observing what I refer to as “the less for more” phenomenon for a few years now, but it really registered mentally when I realized what was going on, just about every consumer product was shrinking in size and volume. So, good consumer that I am, I began to call different manufacturers’ 1-800 numbers to speak to the consumer/marketing person for an explanation as to what was going on… why I was paying more for given products I normally purchased and getting less.
I was never fooled, let alone taken by surprise, by the new creative packaging employed by manufacturers to throw us [consumers] off; I knew what was going on: in the world of consumerism the bottom line always takes precedence. And consumers are perpetually at manufacturers disposal. That has always been the formula, but it became blatantly obvious that just about everything conceivable used in the home was getting smaller—more for less. In the final analysis, all I wanted was an explanation (not a reason’ they don’t give a damn) why I was paying more for whatever product, and getting less of it to consume. In other words, getting less bang for my five or ten bucks.
In the end, the pat explanation was always the same, something about “rising production, transportation costs,” etc.
Nevertheless, I have never been satisfied with specious explanations hard done customers have no choice but to accept. So depending on whom I talked to at whatever company, I would be offered a courtesy coupon for whatever product, just to keep me in the [product consumer] fold.
I remember back in the mid-70s (1974 Federal election the Conservative) one of the major federal election discussions was “wage and price controls.” This all comes to mind in view of the current economic crisis and invariable trickle down effect on consumers. [It seems like when economic times are good, the general population is never positively impacted, but in times like these the most vulnerable, meaning the majority of the population, invariably suffers. Just look at the current situation and its impact on people who mostly complaining about the cost of living, in particular the rocketing cost of food.] Those who are not financially cushioned are groaning and complaining…
Reading an Internet article the other day I’m reminded of the 1974 election campaign, which pitted then Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau against Conservative opposition leader Robert Stanfield. Much like today things were also bad economically, in terms of Canadians’ buying power juxtaposed with shrinking jobs and dollars. Things were out of whack and Canadians were looking for viable solutions.
So, Robert Stanfield proposed the imposition of a quote: “wage and price freeze on the Canadian economy in order to fight the quickly accelerating inflation rate. The Trudeau government opposed this policy and fought the election against wage and price controls.”
Read any of myriad articles on line, which mirror the current economic ills we’ve been enduring for sometime now, especially the various tangibles and intangibles causing the current economic downturn, including the deflating Loonie.
For context and perspective here’s a thin slice from one of the Internet articles: “The early 70s had brought political instability on the international scene and with the formation of OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Nations) in the early 60s the scene was set. OPEC began to raise the price of crude oil, which in conjunction with American hyper spending over the previous 10 years began to drive up inflation rates. Unions responded to rising prices by striking and demanding equivalent wage increases while businesses passed on the increase in production costs to the consumer in the form of higher prices for products. Due to the impact of increasing inflation in most other developed countries, Canada found it difficult to control affairs in the domestic economy….”
There’s no election campaign right now; it ended a couple months ago. Pierre Trudeau’s son, Justin, beat the incumbent Conservative leader and Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. Today, the inflation rate is low, fluctuating between 1.2 to 2.something percent. Back then Canadians were dealing with a stupendous rate of inflation as high as 10.9%, which, as stated earlier, prompted a Conservative call for “Wage and Price Control.”
[Wonder how our local politicians are doing, especially those in Quebec City who are in line for a massive salary increase? And those down at Montreal city hall, even some non-politicians close to the mayor? Bet they’re enjoying T-bones and so on, thanks to taxpayers, but off many citizens’ menu. In the real world of practicality where most working people live (and some are existing…) the focus is on day-to-day matters of survival. All the daily economic talk is what some people describe as “white noise.”]
Consumers are probably relishing price control right now; wages are practically frozen. Which is why “the increasing cost of food” is on every consumer’s lips. And as a man shopping in a supermarket recently commented in clichéd frustration to a TV reporter: “Everything is going up, but…”
Don’t even bother with all that financial/economists’ talk about “Consumer Price Index” and so on; it’s all that, just talk that means little to people who continue to adjust and adapt as they focus on doing all the proverbial survival things: stretching dollars, making ends meet…
Sure, I would be down with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau instituting some “price control.” Especially given the less product-for-higher-price consumer market we’re living in. But don’t hold your breath; your aching stomach will become more unbearable. We just have to pull out the clichés: “weather the current cost of living storm, grin and bear it…”