A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Friday, May 15, 2009

British Bras and American Gas

Of all the news items to capture America’s attention from a foreign source last week was the threat to the price of bras in Great Britain. Yes, we are still fighting a front war in mid-Asia. Yes, we are still struggling with economic recession, bankruptcies, and home foreclosures here in the States. Yet all of that was placed on America’s back burner of its attention span to read about the rising prices of women’s underwear across the pond.

The controversy started when a clothing retailer announced it will charge very buxom British women a surcharge on top of the purchase price of a brassiere. They reasoned that it takes more material to manufacture a bra for larger women than for smaller females. Thus, they felt the extra charge was justifiable.

At least one journalist (a female, naturally) railed against this discrimination, and the outrage caught on with the public like wildfire. After a few weeks, the retailer backed down. Thank dog! The retail world is safe once again for women of all chest sizes, thanks in part to a public outcry.

Similar thinking got the American airline industry to start charging obese passengers for two seats on their flights. The domestic media outlets noted this ticketing change when it was announced several months ago. There were some objections raised on the editorial pages of American newspapers, but otherwise the anger abated. As far as I know, this pricing policy has not changed and airline passengers seem to be taking this discrimination in stride. Personally, it just reinforced my vow never to fly anywhere. If a train can’t take me where I want to go, then I’ll just stay home.

More recently, Americans are seeing the run up of gasoline prices. This has become an annual event. It’s the traditional start of the summer season — Memorial Day weekend — and suddenly oil companies see gold! The prices go up very gradually, so gradually that they believe the consumer doesn’t realize what’s going on. Fortunately the average American is not that dumb. All right, granted we elected George W. Bush to high office twice, but we’re not so dumb that we don’t know greed when we see it.

Many of us will fight back by cutting back on our consumption. We’ll take fewer trips, and the prices will go up. Many will start taking mass transit again, and the prices will still go up. Fewer trips during the summer could hurt the tourism industry, which will mean lower demand for jobs in hospitality. This could translate to more people staying home since they don’t have jobs to go to, which will mean even less consumption...but all of that won’t matter. The price of gasoline will go up even more, mocking the laws of supply and demand.

Unlike the backlash against the cost of British bras, Americans have gotten used to this outrage. This year, we seem to be shrugging our collective shoulders as we fill our gas guzzling vehicles. So far, I have not heard any cries of indignation from the media and no calls for Congressional investigations over gasoline prices.

Perhaps it’s too early for all that, and people are just grateful that the price hasn’t hit $4.00 per gallon like last year. We’re still grumbling when we fill up, but the piss and vinegar from last year has disappeared. Have we matured enough to realize that all of the hand-wringing and whining didn’t do any good? I doubt that. After all, summer has barely begun...


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