Saturday, March 25, 2023

Just prices?

 Thought provoking article here on whether goods have a just price. Public Discourse article

Here is the gist of it:

As everyone at the time knew, any individual who buys a good to resell it for a profit was worthy of great condemnation. For example, the sixth-century Roman statesman Cassiodorus declared that merchants were an abomination. Similarly, in remarks falsely attributed to St. John Chrysostom explaining why Christ cast people from the temple in Matthew 21, we read: “He that buys a thing in order that he may sell it, entire and unchanged at a profit, is the trader who is cast out of God’s temple.”

Condemnations like those in the preceding paragraph strike the modern ear as rather odd. After all, reselling products is exactly what retail stores do all the time. To understand why the activities of the merchant are inherently problematic, we need to look back at medieval economic theory, beginning with the idea of the just price. All goods have an inherent price; the price of the good is, in essence, a property of the good, much like the color and shape are properties of the good.

The author goes on to discuss Thomas Aquinas and what others have to say about this. Read it yourself.

My own thoughts. I believe the technical definition of profit is that money gained in selling a good over and above the cost of the materials, labor, and a share of the overhead. 

I know when I sell weaned piglets, for example, I do sell generally for what the market will bear, considering also how quickly I want to get the pigs sold. Prices go up with feed prices. Prices also generally go up during recessions. However even then, I don't think I ever make a profit. I may (I believe I do) cover the costs of conceiving and raising the pigs, plus a little. But I probably don't cover labor at a reasonable rate in daily feeding, watering, moving them, etc. We commonly (amongst ourselves) talk about how much we "made" on a litter of pigs, but in no way am I making a profit. If I wanted to make a true "profit" I would never get pigs sold around here.

At times I am tempted to bring a load of hogs to an FDA certified butcher so I could sell pork of the farm or at a farmers market. To cover costs and labor, I would have to be selling a pound of sausage at about $7 or $8 a pound; pork chops at $9 or $10 a pound. No profit here, just covering costs and labor. People do this. I can't see my way to selling pork for that much, even if it is a superior product to the supermarket. 

Since we process ourselves, we are eating pork and chicken for much less than the prices quoted above.

Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, March 17, 2023

What is this about 10% inflation?

The media has been claiming that inflation is at 9 or 10%. Not where I am looking. I saw a breakdown on the news the other morning while treading at cardiac rehab where they claimed groceries were at 10%.


Okay, so we don't buy meat. At this time of year we are buying vegetables, as what we put up last year is running out. 

Most items we buy at the grocery store up up 50 to 100%. There are exceptions. Laundry detergent seems to be up only 10-12 percent. But bleach is up over 100%. Coffee is up 50%. Eggs - well everyone knows about them - up 400 to 500%. 

Our overall grocery bill is close to double what it was a year or a year and a half ago - not sure when it all started. 

So maybe the stuff that hasn't gone up in price is stuff we don't buy. 

Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Education of Men

As an adjunct I have noticed the trend over the last nine years of a decline of men in my classroom, especially noticeable in that I teach Physics and Astronomy. The former was course was always had predominantly male students; no longer the case. 

I read an article recently - but I lost track of where I saw it - which quoted statistics of the overall decline of men going to college. It also quoted statistics of the significant decline of males in leadership positions in companies. 

On one hand it is troubling that men are not pursuing higher education and therefore will be less and less in leadership roles in industry and government. 

On the other hand, it occurred to me recently that with the current "woke" atmosphere of today's higher educational institutions, is may be fortuitous that these men are not getting indoctrinated (at least past high school.) 

I am sure that this is not the reason men are not pursuing higher education; it is probably the decline of the value of a higher degree when it comes to supporting a family, at least in many majors available. There is tremendous needs for skilled tradesmen, and they can make a good living. 

Oremus pro invicem!