Thursday, January 14, 2010
99 Cents Worth
The 99 Cent Store in my neighborhood is over on Ventura Boulevard in a shopping mall once full of bustling stores but which now contains only a hairdresser, the 99 Cent Store and a medical marijuana dispensary going by the thought-provoking name 'Private Organic Therapy'. The rest of the storefronts are empty with badly-hung 'For Lease' signs in their dark plate-glass windows, just like most of the stores across the street. Today was one of those amazing LA days that happen after a rainstorm; brilliant sunshine, temperatures in the upper sixties with a dry desert breeze that bends the tall palm trees towards Mecca and turns the air into a clear, beautiful liquid. I had been so sick yesterday from a bout of the flu that I had to phone the studio to send a runner over to pick up the work I had just done but after being locked in the house for a week I just couldnt stand it another minute...I had to go somewhere.
Is it a sign that the economy is crashing that the parking lot in front of the 99 Cent Store contained a full quota of Beemers, Mercedes and other luxury cars parked amongst the old beaters? Nah, it was the same way in The Evil Bush Years; rich people are cheap. You dont get rich by spending money on yourself, after all. You need the Beemer to impress, the company pays for it anyway, but when it comes out of your own pocket that's a different story. A Cup Of Noodles will keep you alive as well as the gourmet chow at Spagos and there's no dress code.
Especially now. I've noticed that the left-wing articles on Real Clear Politics are universal in their description of our current economic evils as all arising from the Bush Tax Cuts. I guess things will pick up when they expire. Today Comrade O is warring against the banks who have treacherously turned from crumbling institutions we need to help and support to greedy profiteers in just a couple of months. The Obama-supporting idiots on CNBC were purple with rage this morning at the thought of a NEW bank tax added onto the Evil Bush Tax Cuts expiring and the health care tax and the cap and trade tax and the value added tax...no wonder the banking system collapsed with morons like that in charge of it. What did they expect when they voted for Chuck Schumer and Barak Obama?
Now with all these swell new taxes fixing the economy you'd think I'd be pretty darned happy. After all I'm only working half the time anyway, the other half I collect unemployment so I figure I'm getting back at least as much as I put in no matter how high the tax rates go. What can those bozos do to me? I grabbed my little plastic basket and wandered into the 99 Cent Store with a smile on my face. Even in a joint like that I dont have enough dough to warrant a shopping cart. I hadnt been there in a long time. All I was going to do was grab some Ramen and maybe a plastic bottle of Morehouse Mustard, perhaps even a new garlic squasher to give my wife for her birthday.
But as I wandered the aisle I realized something had changed from the Evil Bush Years. Your 99 Cents doesnt go anywhere near as far as it used to. Ramen, which were eleven cents were now seventeen cents. Cup Of Noodles had almost doubled. The stale candy bars that had formerly been three for a dollar were now two for a dollar. Campbells Soup, formerly two for 99 cents were now 99 cents apiece. Even those far-out canned Mexican goodies with names like Tripas were up. Canned tamales, albondigas, all of it. I couldnt compare any of the non-food stuff to what it was because I never bought that kind of stuff myself--that's wife stuff--but I'll bet its the same deal.
Inflation. Thats the way poor people get taxed. I guess Ben Bernanke and the geniuses at the Fed who calculate the inflation rate dont shop at the 99 Cent Store often enough. It aint no three percent inflation rate in these aisles buddy! They're giving fire-sale discounts on Range Rovers and Plasma TVs in the high end stores but down here in Food Stamp Land your pesos arent buying anything near what they used to. If the sign says 'Acceptamos Cupones' then inflation is a whole lot higher than three percent. But Comrade O says there is no inflation. Social Security's Cost Of Living Adjustment was zero this year. Yeah, the Most Compassionate Congress Ever allowed Comrade O to peel a few Lucky Bucks off his trillion dollar stimulus stack and send it to the oldsters so Granny wont have to be shoplifting cans of Kitty Queen to add some protein to the diet but it didnt cover the difference.
The very understated inflation rate is just adding to the disquiet that people feel but just cant put their fingers on. Somethings gone wrong with Hope And Change. Its been a year now. The Evil Bush Years had 4% unemployment, $250 billion deficits and all these empty stores had tenants. Now we're in a much fairer and more just era, arent we? We're saving the danged planet! How come Hope And Change has 17% unemployment, $1.8 trillion dollar deficits and bleak empty storefronts? And now the one refuge we all had, the 99 Cent Store, the 401k of those of us who live constantly in the red, is jacking up the prices.
People arent as stupid as the socialists hope. They can feel in their bones and in their wallets that this isnt right. A free economy creates wealth, a command economy destroys wealth. Its that simple. An honest dollar is only an honest dollar in the hands of an honest government. The entire political class has fallen down on this one. They think they can manipulate and control and escape the consequences of their actions. Wall Street and the banks got pushed into making bad loans by the government, without, by the way, any protest from the Republicans or the banks themselves, and then walked away with a cushy bailout that preserved their plush lifestyles but has come close to destroying the integrity of the currency.
But its all good. The market is up. They just had to write off a few million of us expendable peons and move on. But it reminds me of the Tea Party I went to last April, when things looked completely hopeless. I looked around at the people here in the 99 Cent Store. Same people. A growing crowd of people. Getting angrier every minute. These elitists havent suffered at all from this. We've suffered from the stupidity and greed of our supposedly altruistic betters. Now unknowns like Scott Brown in Massachusetts are rising on a tsunami of this anger to challenge the machine candidates in a way that was never possible before. If he wins or even comes close panic will ensue. Obamunist Health Care will fail. The only 'accomplishment' of the total control of everything by the Dems will be the trillion buck stimulus rip-off and the expiration of the Bush Tax Cuts by default until they are buried in the electoral avalanche this year. The Republicans will be hostage to an angry, militant faction inside their party as antagonistic to the welfare state and the political class as the statists in both parties are committed to it. Meanwhile the welfare state itself will be dissolving in a sea of inflation and red ink no matter who runs it, spawning more rage.
I guess it'll be the 99 Buck Store in a couple of years but a Cup Of Noodles will be a real treat, out of reach to us mere mortals. I dont know. I'm going to walk over and get some of that Private Organic Therapy and forget the whole mess.