Economics Lesson

As the “climate change” foolishness grows apace, we find bullshit like this increasing at a similar rate:

Shoppers have been left furious as Sainsbury’s has doubled the cost of its plastic bags to 20p in a move dubbed ‘day light robbery’ and ‘profiting from forgetfulness’.
The supermarket’s bosses have said it is part of a strategy to reduce the stores plastic footprint by ‘encouraging customers to develop a re-use mindset’.
There is an incentive to cut plastic use by more than 50 per cent in five years, with the profits going to good causes, Sainsbury’s claimed.

Of course they will.  Actually, what this is really all about is Sainsbury’s doing a little “virtue signaling” (as I believe it’s called nowadays).

It’s been a while since I looked at the numbers, but I believe that plastic supermaket bags carry a F.O.B. price of something less than a penny per bag, so that’s quite a profit margin to pass on to the so-called “good causes”.

I think I use canvas bags about 50% of the time, mostly because I either forget to pack them in the car before going shopping, or I do some impulse (i.e. unplanned) shopping on the way home.  When I remember, I keep the canvas bags in the car, but it’s not a big deal in my life, because I reuse all supermarket plastic bags at least once, as bathroom trash bags or similar.

Here’s a word of warning about canvas (or any reusable) bags:  you have to wash them frequently (errr involving electricity, hot water and detergents, oh dear) as over time they will become portable petri dishes of bacteria, especially if you carry raw meat or fish home in them.

When I travel in Britishland and Euroland, I carry a little polyester bag (folded, it’s about the same size as a handkerchief) in my coat pocket just so that I don’t get caught without one and have to pay for the bags — and in some Euro stores, they don’t offer any bags at all.

If this pisses you off (and it does me), then your revenge should be to pack your groceries away yourself before paying.  It slows down the transaction, and cashiers are measured on a simple “time/#items scanned” efficiency metric.  Take your time, for added pleasure.

Both Sides

There’s apparently been some nastiness between Taylor Swift and her erstwhile recording company which has turned even more unpleasant since Swift egged her fans on to torment said record company.

I don’t claim to know all the ins and outs of this issue, but the rule of thumb in any imbroglio of this nature is that the money people (in this case the record company) are always going to try to screw the ideas people (that would be Swift, here);  so the default position in all this would be to think, with lots of justification, that once again, the record industry is trying to chisel the artist.  (Think of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s John Fogerty not able to perform Proud Mary  for years  because of the record company bastards and publishing deals.)

That said, however, this is  the serial feuder and generally-spiteful Taylor Swift we’re talking about, so I think I’ll reserve judgment, just this once.  Millionaires squabbling with millionaires:

Enough Already

Oh, happy happy joy joy.

JPMorgan Weighs Shifting Thousands of Jobs Out of New York Area

If the transplantees don’t want to leave their extended families in Noo Yawk, you folks at JPMorgan can just move them a little further down the BoWash corridor — like, say, to BaltimoreShould feel quite at home there, what with a Democrat government and all, and it’s only a short train ride back up the coast.

I think I can safely speak for all of us Texans down here in the DFW Metroplex:  we’re full of New Yorkers.

Instead of infesting filling the rest of America with your liberal asshole cosmopolitan employees, why not open up a new office in Los Angeles?  Gawd knows, they need an infusion of business in the Golden Shower State, and the transplanted Noo Yawkers will be quite at home with things like sky-high taxes, sky-high real estate prices, onerous licensing fees and feral anti-gun laws.  And the climate is better in SoCal than it is here.  Also, in Texas we have scorpions, snakes, poisonous spiders, scary-looking pickup trucks and sometimes, all of them combined:

  

Let’s not even talk about assault rifles, which can be bought just like candy, by grade-school kids at any corner-store 7-11:

The pastrami is lousy, and the bagels are made by Sarah Lee.  There was a vegan store around here someplace (Austin, maybe?) but it closed because they wouldn’t serve chicken-fried okra.  And people here think that “lox” is what y’all put on a truck’s toolbox.

And speaking of that kinda thing:  Ted Nugent has a ranch just south of here.


(As an aside, we Texans actually think ol’ Ted’s kinda soft when it comes to guns — I mean, he’s even on the board of the NRA, that bunch of compromising pussies.)

One last thought:  if you do send people down here, they’re gonna see an awful lot of these:

…all filled like this:

And when your folks converse with the locals, Question #3 will invariably be:  “And where do y’all go to church?”

Better have an answer.

Just sayin’.

Capital Flight

I haven’t spoken at all about the situation in Hong Kong before, mostly because there wasn’t much to be said:  (somewhat) free colony opposes colonial power’s aggression, mayhem ensues.

Several people have wondered why the ChiComs haven’t sent in the tanks, à la Tienanmen Square, to crush the waves of protests, but the answer is simple:  Hong Kong provides a means whereby the ChiCom government can move money around the world without provoking too much notice because currency movement in Hong Kong is completely unregulated.  Crush the protests, make Hong Kong just another province (like, say, Jiangxi or Shandong) and that flexibility disappears.

It is, however, a two-edged sword.  What has transpired since the protests began is that capital (money owned by individuals, that is) has been pouring out of Hong Kong and flooding into Singapore — to name just one such destination — thence on to parts unknown.  Which means that if Beijing does finally send the tanks into Hong Kong, they’re likely to find, like Old Mother Hubbard, that the cupboard is bare.  And the flow of  money is truly a deluge:  if you study how many major corporations have been purchased by Chinese-sourced money over the past few months, you’d be amazed.  Even better is that by and large, the corporations being thus purchased are characterized by their cash flow operations — in other words, the Chinese billionaires, canny businessmen that they are, are not just parking their money under an offshore mattress, they’re putting that cash to work and generating a revenue stream.

The ChiComs may not only be running out of other people’s money — they may soon be running out of their own.

Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of totalitarians.


By the way, you may have noticed that the above is somewhat short of details;  that’s because if I say more, I could jeopardize my several sources who are not only well placed in the area, but who do a ton of business there too and are close to said wealthy people.  One can never be too careful when dealing with Commie bastards.

And Speaking Of Commies…

I see that the strike at GM has ended:

Negotiations between General Motors and the United Auto Workers reached a tentative contract deal on Wednesday that could end a month-long strike that brought the company’s US factories to a standstill.

Good.  Now they can go back to making mostly crappy cars* that few people want to buy.

Driven up by the longest economic expansion in American history, auto sales appear to have peaked and are now heading in the other direction.

I would be curious to see how the auto sales numbers break down between new and used cars.  Also, between cars and trucks/SUVs.  Anyone have any ideas or info on this?

But here’s an interesting statement as to perhaps a good reason why GM is tanking:

GM and other car makers are also struggling to make the transition to electric and autonomous vehicles.

…which very few people want to buy.  Nothing like a sinking company investing in products that people either don’t want, don’t need or hate the thought of.

Maybe they should trash all their current car designs and go into the retro/mod business:

Hell, they probably would;  except that, knowing GM, they’d make them electric-only and ergo  doomed.


*  Except for maybe some Cadillac models and the Corvette.  Note that I’m specifically excluding GM trucks, which are generally quite good, from the above comments.

Why Bother?

As Longtime Readers may remember, I was involved for many years with the “customer loyalty” business — specifically in the supermarket arena, but tangentially in a couple other industries — so I kinda know what I’m talking about when it comes to this stuff.  (As an aside:  if you use a Kroger Rewards card when you shop there, I’m at least partially responsible;  sorry.)

Back when I lived in Chicago, I used to fly in and out of O’Hare Airport about 50-60 times a year, and was a member of both the American AAdvantage and United Mileage Plus programs.

Once I even spoke to the head of one of their programs, complaining that my friend used to fly internationally once a quarter and accrued thereby a massive number of miles, whereas I flew rather fewer  miles and couldn’t get to his level of “SuperDuperPlusGoodPlatinum” level in their program.  This, despite the fact that he was making four purchase decisions a year to fly with them, while I was making that many purchase decisions every month.  But my flights were Chicago-Kansas City, Chicago-Minneapolis, Chicago-Des Moines and so on, while my friend’s were Chicago-Singapore, and I felt that I was being short-changed for my loyalty.  Rather to my surprise, the program director agreed with my logic, and although this had probably been planned anyway, about six months later the policy was changed to factor in the number of flights (“segments”) as part of the loyalty determinant.  Only then — and far too late — did my “status” improve.

In the rather interesting George Clooney movie Up In The Air, much is made of his goal to reach ten million air miles (with American, as it turns out), and the status that this conferred on him.  There’s no doubt that this gave him something  desirable (as far as he was concerned, anyway), but it’s interesting to note that had the movie been made today, those ten million miles would have made him rather less valuable a customer.

A new era of airline loyalty programs has arrived. United Airlines announced this week that the criteria for elite qualification in its MileagePlus loyalty program would change dramatically next year. Starting in January of 2020, United’s loyalty members will earn elite status based on Premier Qualifying Flights and Premier Qualifying Segments only. Flight miles, the traditional metric by which frequent flyers used to earn status, are no longer going to be considered.
It wasn’t too long ago that frequent flyers on American, Delta, and United earned elite status based solely on how far they fly. If a passenger flew 100,000 miles or 100 segments on any of the carriers, for example, top-tier (published) status was awarded, yielding perks such as upgrades, free checked bags, and free seat assignments.
In 2013, however, that formula changed when Delta introduced qualifying dollars to its equation for calculating for elite status. From that point forward, frequent flyers needed to earn a baseline number of miles or segments and also spend a companion amount of cash — up to $15,000 for the top published tier — to earn the same status as before. American and United quickly followed suit.

I should point out that for Oz’s Qantas Airlines, this has always been their policy because all their flights are long-haul, so it made sense to reward spending rather than just miles.

That’s not true for our local Murkin companies, of course, but it’s unsurprising that United (motto:  “We’re the Friendly Skies, until we have to break your nose“) and American (motto:  “We cancel flights, just for spite”) would make this change, because they’re a bunch of bastards.  (I can’t speak for Delta as I’ve only flown with them a few times.)

As I’ve said many times before, I know that to the airlines I’m just self-propelled cargo, but I don’t want to be treated  that way.  So they’re making flying even less attractive for people — and screwing up their programs in the process.

Needless to say, the Usual Suspects (i.e Gummint) are horning in on the action:

Air miles reward schemes should be banned because they ‘stimulate demand’ for excessive flying, according to a report commissioned by the Government’s climate change advisers.
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC*) commissioned report says that frequent flyers should also be hit by an ‘escalating air miles levy’ to put them off flying too much, but measures should not raise prices for people taking an annual holiday.
There [are] approximately 220 frequent flyer clubs with an estimated total membership of 200 million across the world, many of whom take additional flights to ‘maintain their privileged traveller status’.
The new suggestions are aimed at reducing air travel for the 15 per cent of the UK population estimated to be responsible for 70 per cent of all flights.

The latter would be people like Mr. Free Market, who don’t have any choice but to fly as their business is 90% international.  And gawd forbid people should actually be productive and, you know, earn salaries for themselves and profits for their companies — I think Marx had some ugly things to say about that — when they’re polluting the atmosphere and stuff.

I have an idea for improving our planet’s well-being, but as it involves rounding up all the the eco-loons and climate freaks and converting their bodies into fertilizer, no doubt someone’s going to have a problem with this.

I don’t know why they’re trying to kill off frequent flier programs, when the airlines are perfectly capable of doing it all by themselves.  But that’s Big Gummint for ya.


*Actually, that’s not what “CCC” stands for;  it’s “Climate Change Cunts”, i.e. all of them.

 

 

Of course, when something’s