June 25, 2014

Seriously out of whack

I become nauseous when I hear the salaries that baseball players earn. Mind you, when a guy that I like gets his five or ten million, a small part of me is happy for him. But the nausea remains. No one should have a twenty-million-dollar annual salary. No one.

Yesterday, the draft (scrap paper, nothing more) of Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" sold for two million dollars. For scrap paper? People pay many millions of dollars to own things in our world today. The .01% buy apartments in Manhattan for upwards of sixty million dollars. Handbags can cost many thousands of dollars. And politicians earn more than 100,000 dollars for a talk. What's wrong with this picture?

This is not okay, especially in light of the fact that you can buy scads of items at Amazon for dirt-cheap. I bought sunglasses at the big A the other day. They're really nice sunglasses -- and they cost $2.13. Delivered to my house, the total cost was five dollars.  Did I mention that they're nice? Someone (probably many "someones") gave their life's blood to make those two-dollar sunglasses. You don't produce something that cheaply without harming lots of people.

And who's to blame for this insane divide in prices? Us. It's people who set prices by their willingness to buy. What is the stock market but a gambling house where the rubes set the price of the items? Yes, the stock market is sky-high. But why? Because people are willing to pay that much (just as it's people who are willing to pay millions for sports stars to join their team). Purchasers blithely say, "It's worth that much to me," and hand over the money.

Prices rise and rise, except for the dirt-cheap stuff. And it's only the little people who are harmed. Trickle-down is real, but it's pain that trickles down, not money. The latter moves upward.

Lest we end with nausea alone, let's consider the phrase "out of whack". (Just to lift our spirits.) Where did the phrase come from? It seems that "in fine whack" was a phrase used in the late 19th century. It implied that something was in fine form. Though no one can truly track the reverse phrase, it makes sense that when something wasn't in fine form, it was referred to as being "out of whack". So there you go.

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