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More random thoughts to close out the year

Dec. 11, 2008 - Unless something truly earth-shaking happens or there is a suddenly-emerging topic that lights a fire under my you-know-what, this is my last contribution for 2008, so I’ll bow out of the year with some random thoughts.
Or does ‘Reflections’ sound more profound?


December 11, 2008
By Ralph Pearce

Something smells, and it is not the cheese

Pizzeria owners are taking a hit again, or so they claim. Dairy prices across the country are affecting their bottom line, and especially their profit margins.  So according to media reports, a coalition (careful in my use of that word) of pizzeria operators are approaching the Canadian Dairy Commission to ask them to lower their prices. Some pizzeria owners have publically stated they are ‘unable’ to pass on the higher cheese prices to their customers.

  Unable or unwilling? 

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  This is the problem I have with food services, and in fact, the majority of the retail food sector: the unwritten mandate that says, “We have to keep our prices rock bottom!”   Why?  If nothing else, the Chinese melamine scandal this past year should have taught our society that this ‘lowest price is the law’ mentality can cause serious harm. When price is the primary determining factor, the cost of production has to ratchet down continuously, and usually, that is not a good thing.

  Besides, it is not the job of the wheat grower, the dairy producer or the beef or pork farmer to work for less than the cost of production, just so Joe Average Canadian can continue to buy his pizza with the requisite amount of cheese.  In a free market economy, supply and demand have to operate in conjunction with each other. If it costs more for the baker to make bread, then the consumer must pay his share for that increase; especially with something as convenience-oriented as pizza.  To my way of thinking, people should be paying more for food, and considerably more for food that is based on high fat, maximum convenience and less on nutritive value.  So pizzeria owners are not alone in this scenario.  

  Above all, we have to stop allowing the food service providers, particularly fast food outlets and grocery stores, to blame increasing costs for food on primary producers. It defies logic that growers and producers are living the good life amidst the volatility that exists in the commodity and livestock markets today.
   (At this point, the mainstream media can take a bow; their lack of fair and accurate reporting has been a big help!).
 

Who is more annoying?
Speaking of convenience-oriented foods, my tolerance for President’s Choice fare is waning rapidly.  The notion that lasagna takes three hours to prepare is about as ludicrous as Galen Weston’s snappy urban apparel.
   More important is the question of whether absence really makes the heart grow fonder. If it does, then Galen Weston and his inane shilling of cheesecake and dinnerware make him more annoying than the Canadian Tire Guy.
 
You can’t fix stupid
Events in Ottawa in the past two weeks have plumbed new depths for the word ‘stupid’. The idea of a coalition whose members include a now-deposed leader, a socialist and a separatist is laughable, were it not so ominous. Although it has faded from the forethoughts of most Canadians, when it first reared its ugly three-faced head, I viewed this coalition in much the same way as a military junta overthrowing a duly-elected government.
   Is Canada not still a democracy? Did we not just go through a $300+ million election process to determine who would lead Parliament?
   Granted, Stephen Harper has to shoulder some of the blame: he pledged to work cooperatively after the election, and for the most part, he carried out that job with the same degree of success that the mainstream media exhibits in providing fair and accurate reporting (media members: take another bow).
   Still, one recent news item showed that we Canadians, do not have the market cornered when it comes to ‘stupid’.  Oddly enough, the US Environmental Protection Agency has upped the ante with a proposed tax on dairy and livestock producers, to cover the amount of methane expelled by belching and flatulent cows and hogs. The proposed levy of $175 per dairy cow, $87.50 per beef cow and $20 per hog could wind-up costing a producer upwards of $30 – 40,000 per year, depending on the size of their herd. State legislators and farm groups are pledging to battle the passage of this bill, and it is hoped more-intelligent heads prevail, never mind the part about being cooler.
 
I’d better stop now.
 
But I’ll leave you with my special wish, to you and all those you hold dear in your heart and in your thoughts;
 
The Very Best this Holiday Season.
 
A Merry Christmas, and a Happy, Safe and Healthy New Year.
 
Ralph