I hate anti-capitalist protesters, with their shop bought shoes and dyed hair, probably as much as I hate feminists. They’re hypocrites, but worse than that they’re so half-arsed with their attempts to change things. They just sit outside of buildings ruining the lives of the general public more than anyone else and then in the next breath they tend to complain that they can’t get jobs. Maybe they could get jobs if they weren’t so lazy, but I probably shouldn’t overgeneralise quite that much. Particularly as my problem today is something that argues for their side.
A couple of days ago Blip went to university and went to buy a bottle of coke. The campus is split into two with a railway line through the middle and normally his lectures are on the side with the university shop but on this occasion he had a lecture on the other side, where the easiest place to buy coke is from a vending machine in the library. He went in and found that a small shop had opened up there; little more than a hole in the wall but it sold coke and so seemed more convenient. The prices were all written on in pen, which is an immediate red flag to the sensible consumer, but his throat was hurting and he wanted to console himself with a drink so he proceeded with the transaction anyway only to realise at the moment of purchase that the hand written prices weren’t a lie. They were genuinely charging £1.45 for a bottle of coke.
I’m going to repeat that because I imagine most people would be as shocked as I was. The bottle of diet coke cost £1.45.
In the university shop it is £1.20, which, according to the person who works in the shop, means that somebody in the library is doing something not altogether complient with university policy, but although the over-the-top price wasn’t entirely the fault of the coca cola company it is evidence of an endemic problem with society.
I can’t speak for when I was very small because I didn’t have any coke until I was 11, but after that point if I bought a 500ml bottle I remember it being beneath £1. My brain tells me it was 69p for a bottle, although considering a 330ml can is now at least 70p when bought singly, I sometimes wonder if my brain is tricking me when I consider the past. When I was younger I could go in to the shop where the bus picked me up for secondary school and with a one pound coin buy a bottle of diet coke and a packet of cheese and onion crisps. Now I could probably only just afford the crisps and if I wanted coke I would have to buy a 1.5l bottle because they are almost always cheaper than the 500ml bottle.
And therein lies my problem with capitalism. I don’t mind the obvious deceptions. I don’t mind the fact that they make the lid on something half the size and therefore put the price up. I don’t mind that some things have a ginormous mark-up and I don’t mind that I pay extortionate amounts for the luxury of pretty packaging because in truth I like buying things. I like things to look pretty and I like to spend money for the luxury of having everything in my kitchen look like a magical world with Tupperware and brightly coloured packets. What I don’t like is when companies try and trick people into getting addicted to their products by forcing us into a position where it is ridiculous to buy the smaller option. I understand the sensible nature of lowering prices for higher volumes but charging me 150% of the price for something a third as small makes it impossible for me to logically buy the smaller option. I therefore have to buy more of their product and if I were a fingerpointer I would get addicted, which then leads to the government putting up the prices even more because they blame the sugar in the drink.
I suppose in truth my problem with capitalism is that it leads to mistaken beliefs of the government, which then impact my enjoyment of capitalism. In those terms my problem would be with our popularist political system rather than coke or even the university. If people get addicted to sugar because the companies make it more attractive to buy the larger quantities, and then people consume the product in the same amount of time it would take to consume the smaller option, that is their own fault and the government shouldn’t pander to them by reducing sugar limits without ever telling people what sugar is used for in the body and by perpetuating the myth that ‘natural’ sugar is good and ‘artificial’ sugar is bad.
None of this of course excuses the company who make curly wurlies trying to convince me that they’ve always been that small and my hands have just got bigger. That is a blatant lie.
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