Wednesday, October 17, 2007

No frills living

This has been bugging me for awhile: How can we prevent the upward creep prices due to the addition of bells and whistles? This isn't a prevalent characteristic in all economies... but you can see it in the US very well.

Think of these:
-cars (5-spd, crank windows, rubber floormats?)
-Cell phones (sans camera, multimedia messaging, bluetooth, etc.)
-pillow cases (why can't we get really cheap material cases with super low thread counts for $.99?)
-bikes (why can't I buy an adult, single speed, rigid at Wal-Mart?)
-bike components (you can't buy new 9-speed through shimano any more... only 10-speed)
-iPods (if I could buy a new normal 2GB iPod for $20.... I'd do it... rather than spending $300 on an 80GB video ipod)

Yes, I know the market doesn't dictate a sufficient necessity for these low-end products. Manufacturers know they can increase profits by adding neato-gadets to their existing products, and getting rid of the previous product. My beef is that this trend decreases the ability for many lower-income people to buy these things....some of which are borderline between luxury and need (a car for example... while I live without one, I realize it's not a need, but it is a tool that can empower someone, i.e. no longer have to work only when and where public transportation goes).
I'm also thankful that this trend exists... it's indicative of our ever rising per capita income (even after adjusting for inflation). Bells and whistles are being added, because the majority of the market can afford the new tricked cell phones.

I don't know how the government could help this situation. I'm a believer that the government shouldn't hand out mandates to businesses. The market should be the only thing dictating economic equilibrium. That doesn't mean culture can't be shifted to a healthier market (clearly it's not the easy way...). I need an idea for this problem like the idea of carbon labeling... an idea that educates the people to make market affecting decisions if it is right for them.

This isn't very articulate, but I'm hungry, so deal. I apologize for the excessive use of ellipses.

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