Oftentimes, seemingly the most inane, silly things make the most powerful points. And they are usually dismissed.
For example, I love to occasionally rant against things like soccer and the Olympics on the premise that they are not of the American way; for they play to ties and reward second (and third) place. People find it to be absurd, but as we’ve dumbed down society over the last 30 years we’ve seen us embrace this mentality with everything from not keeping score during youth sports, to trophies and awards for everyone, to 1st, 3rd, and 5thgrade graduations to 43 valedictorians (or none, lest feelings be hurt). There is absolutely a connection between embracing sports and events where “everyone wins,” or “no one loses,” and what has become of our society. To argue otherwise it to be beyond naïve.
Another fun rant I like to go on from time to time is that directed at certain forms of pre-fabricated, pre-made foods. Don’t get me wrong; everyone loves the convenience of being able to grab a pre-made, pre-wrapped sandwich from time-to-time at the convenience store. Most grocery stores have pre-made, high quality picnic and party items ranging from salads to full meals and side dishes. Fine; America is a busy place.
But there is a point at which it becomes absurd and even disturbing. I’ve always viewed this through the prism of people simply being lazy and/or losing all ability to do the most basic things; but it’s much, much worse than that when you truly look at it.
We live in a nation that bemoans (correctly) income inequality and a disappearing middle class. The number of people earning less than $30,000 accounts for 48.06% of the population.Americans in the top 1 percent average over 39 times more income than the bottom 90 percent. Over the past five decades, the top 1 percent of American earners have nearly doubled their share of national income. Meanwhile, the official poverty rate for all U.S. families has merely inched up and down. An estimated 43.5 percent of the total U.S. population (140 million people) are either poor or low-income.
And yet, as people cry about not being able to make ends meet, millions of Americans throw their money away every day on truly asinine things; most notably in the food world.
Whenever people used to call or write bitching about not being able to get ahead, I always started with the Starbucks lecture:“How do you start your day?” I would ask, and invariably the answer would be something like “I get up, get ready, hit my local Starbucks and drive work.” Cool. How’s the $5 per day on a cup of coffee helping out your bottom line? (which assumes the person is only getting coffee every time). How about we take your monthly coffee budget from $80 to zero and you wait until you get to the office and drink their coffee? And from there, you can identify so many other examples of “Starbucks” expenditures, and before long, the person has been shown how to save $300 per month.
From now on, I’m going to bypass the Starbucks question and instead go shopping at the grocery store with them. The amount of money people are pissing away every day in this country bybeing beyond lazy is astonishing.
It takes 20 minutes to hard boil eggs, start to finish. I know, because every Sunday, I do exactly that so that I have them for the week. Using my most-visited grocery store as a side-by-side comparison, it costs me $2.48 for a dozen eggs, and 20 minutes of my life. Meanwhile, morons are flooding that same store to buy already-hard boiled-and-bagged eggs for $6.98. A difference of 181%!
At the same store, I pay $1.69 for a pound of red onions, while others are forgoing the arduous task of peeling and chopping their own red onions to the tune of $6.34 per pound. This is lunacy.
Apparently, it’s so difficult to clean peel and cut carrots and celery into sticks to snack on that people are willing to pay $6 for a pound of them already done and in a fancy plastic container. Meanwhile, like an idiot, I pay a total of $1.44 for a half pound of each and then spend a whopping 4 minutes cleaning, peeling, and chopping them and putting them into Ziploc bags or Tupperware.
2 weeks ago, at the same store, russet baking potatoes were $1.19 per pound, and each potato weighed an average of 8 ounces. So, one potato cost 59 cents. Literally right beside were “ready to bake potatoes!” The store has touchingly done the hard work of cleaning the potato and wrapping it in “ready to cook protective wrap,” while tripling the price to $1.49 per potato.
And for the main course, let’s have steak fajitas! I can buy the exact same ingredients, including pre-sliced raw fajita beef, and make the fajita mix with onions, peppers and spices myself for $5.23…or, I can take on the punishing task of slicing onions and peppers and mixing everything together and buy it for $9.99…and I still have to take it home and cook it!
And before you claim, as a method of self-soothing, that people are buying these items only when they are on-the-go, heading to a party, and whatever other excuse you need to make up to defend this lunacy, the Nielsen research company tracks peoples’ buying habits and reports these exact purchases are being made for every day use, week after week. And the very people who buy them, says the same research, also describe their financial situation as “paycheck-to-paycheck or worse.”
The individual examples seem mundane, but they aren’t for two reasons; first, if you’re bitching about money, stop spending it so stupidly. Secondly, as the cliché goes “it all adds up.”
For the exact same food and a very little time out of my life, I spent $11.43, while the person too busy to chop veggies, wrap potatoes, and boil eggs spent $24.80…more than twice as much.
People can and should spend their money however they please; but they don’t get to then complain about how they don’t have any when they’re making choices such as these, especially since as more and more of them do, it effects public policy for all of us. The nation’s entitlement, combined with its’ financial ignorance is sending us spiraling further and further…and it’s making those of us in the top 1% wealthier and wealthier. As populists blame the successful, no one ever looks at the behavior of those who are falling behind and that’s just sad.