Capitalism and Fantasies

April 26, 2017

Capitalism and Fantasies

Stay tuned soon for a report on my visit to Rochester New York, to see Cate Rubin and her boyfriend, Zack Tennies. I’d be on the trip, and the fine food my daughter and SO Zack shared with me, but sharing from phone to computer to blog post takes time. Alas, I am a mere 10 days away from my first trip to a place off this continent and its ambient islands.

I will be in London, Bath, and Oxford from May 5 through May 12. After contributing to several trips to Europe for Cate and her mom, I’m more than a wee bit excited about going myself. (Ya, ya, I know GB has started to exit the European Union. “Stupid is as stupid does,” said Forrest Gump, and he’d be right-o on this one, but I’m damn near 60 and London, Bath, and Oxford are Europe for me. If you disagree, STFU.)

So, is this essay about travel? Only partly. I’m really focused on capitalism, as it has shown its ugly face recently. (Trying hard, too, not to channel my inner Andy Rooney.)

I dealt with cell phones on Sunday and Monday. Sunday in Rochester took Cate and me to AT&T. Cate had been on her grandmother’s account. Recent $200+ monthly bills told me we need to attend to all of this. Thirty minutes after we arrived, my favorite Millennial’s financial attachment to me—I pay the cell phone bill not because she can’t, but because she won’t—shrunk by about 50%.

On Monday I walked over to Verizon. (Can you imagine a cell phone store two blocks from your home? My private hell!) I used my cell phone’s mobile hot spot as my home Internet connection until about 90 days ago. Wasted gigs, I knew, and I needed to fix the problem. Lo and behold, Verizon had such a deal for me: from $120 per month for a mostly unused—for the last several months—20 gigabytes per months, I am now at $65 per month for unlimited data.

On my way home from Rochester on Sunday evening I got hungry. (I made a sandwich in Rochester, but my stomach was roiling and I feared “gluten intolerance” rage. Fie on the sandwich.) The K concourse at O’Hare taught, very directly, the lessons associated with free markets … which aren’t.

Pricing behind security at airports reflects an oligoply. There are a limited number of sellers. Each seller knows what every other seller does, in terms of product mix, pricing, etc. So, prices are absurdly high. Portions on packaged food—chips, nuts, dried fruit, candy, etc.—are ridiculously large. (When a bag of nuts and dried fruit includes seven servings, something is way wrong!) And cocktails? Super expensive, mediocre, and the only item you can buy which is … too small!

Truth be told, you can get a good meal at many airports. Cate and Zack recounted the Rick Bayless torta Cate ate on their Japan flight last year, purchased at O’Hare from Tortas Frontera. I have seen fine food at Sky Harbor Airport, where—as is the case at O’Hare and at many other airports—local restaurants offer their treats. Alas, I’m old school. Taking a hot sandwich on a plane doesn’t work for me, for on a long flight I can’t quite process the digestion cycle, and I despise others imposing their food odors on me. Blah, blah …!

So I have this fantasy. When a cell company adds a plan which clearly advantages some of its customers, it gives them the advantage. Automatically. Airports charge convenience store prices, and sizing is standard. Martinis cost what they ought to, they’re cold, and they’re not too small or too big. They’re just right!

And in other news, F.C.C. Chairman Pushes Sweeping Changes to Net Neutrality Rules, White House Proposes Slashing Tax Rates, Significantly Aiding Wealthy, and Fox News Poll: President Trump’s first 100 days. (On the Fox News thing? He couldn’t get elected today.)

So much for my fantasies!

Leave a Reply