It’s the Exiting-the-Pool Economy!
Finally, an econ watcher gives vent to something I’ve been witnessing: value shrinkage. It’s the flip-side of price increases. Instead of rising prices, we get less for the same price. “Due to rising input costs and an overall higher cost of doing business, managers have had to find way maintain their profit margins. Rather than risk customers’ ire by raising prices, they make small reductions to value— what you get for the price paid. In other words, customers aren’t necessarily paying more (price inflation), but they’re getting less for their money (value deflation).” Link. If you want to watch this phenomenon at its most gruesome, start monitoring the dollar stores and scrutinizing portions of dollar menu items. At the dollar stores, you’ll see things like the ten-pack of mini-candy bars: they’re now eight-packs. At Wendy’s, the dollar burgers are looking more like White Castles, and I could be wrong, but I think those dollar fries at McDonald’s are growing fewer. Related article. * * * * * * * If you’re acquainted with Gilbert Magazine, you’ve no doubt seen those “Chesterton Sightings.” They’re blurbs that recount ways Chesterton is quoted in today’s press. They remind us that Chesterton is still relevant and probably always will be. Although Chesterton Sightings are somewhat rare, they’re not as rare as what I saw last night: A Maritain Sighting. As in, “Jacques Maritain,” the brilliant, yet leftwing, Catholic and acquaintance of Thomas Merton (funny aside: Maritain, visiting Merton at the Kentucky monastery, grew a bit frustrated when Merton insisted that they listen to Bob Dylan songs, instead of talking about weightier things . . . such was Merton’s infatuation with Dylan). Anyway, the article is in Boston Review, and it’s a monster. I’ve bookmarked it for later reading, but it looks pretty good. Here’s an excerpt that packs a wallop in a few sentences:
Personalism, its advocates insisted, was not the same as individualism, which allegedly treated human beings as isolated, self-interested agents, instead of understanding their embeddedness in groups. Communism, on the other hand, entirely absorbed people into the state. Personalism was thus simultaneously anti-liberal and anticommunist; its proponents held that liberalism and communism, for all their apparent differences, were forms of materialism, whereas personalism did justice to the spiritual dimension of human life. Human beings were simultaneously related to a social order and possessed of individual dignity and capacity for transcendence. They should contribute to the common good, but the spirituality of persons was above and untouchable by any earthly community.
* * * * * * * Leno: “President Obama was in India yesterday visiting our jobs. Tomorrow he goes to China to visit our money.” * * * * * * * It’s St. Martin’s feast day, which reminds me of Henri Gheon’s fine biography. It’s highly recommended. Gheon also wrote The Secrets of the Saints, which is, in my opinion, one of the three greatest saint books of all time. The other two: Saints for Now (edited by Clare Boothe Luce) and The Holy Fire by Robert Payne. If you’re one of my Eastern Orthodox readers and you haven’t read Payne’s book, you’re really missing out (the rest of you are merely missing out). The fourth greatest saint book of all time: My Life with Hayek and von Mises (just kidding).Bookmark it: del.icio.us | Reddit | Slashdot | Digg | Facebook | Technorati | Google | StumbleUpon | Window Live | Tailrank | Furl | Netscape | Yahoo | BlinkList
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