Thursday, May 25, 2023

The Price is Wrong

Inflation is rampant this year, and my fixed subsistence income is not keeping pace, despite occasional cost-of-living increases.

Electricity has gone up by 20%, split into two increases this year. Fifty euro of groceries, carefully selected to maximize value for the money, now covers less than two dozen items, enough for a week of very frugal meals (mostly oatmeal). I’ve read that fuel costs have increased greatly, but fortunately I don’t have or need a car, so I haven’t been directly affected by that. I did see a greater-than-usual rent increase this year, however.

I mainly try to save money by eating less. Grocery costs are the one variable that can be adjusted within a substantial range. In addition to oatmeal, I eat a lot of other cheap carbs, such as pound cake, which provide a lot of calories at a low price. Protein, fruits, and vegetables are usually not affordable. It is hardly ideal, especially in view of my health issues, but it beats starvation.

Inflation would be a lot worse if the government were not intervening right and left to subsidize price controls. I don’t know how long that can continue. I’ve read that this is largely due to a war in Ukraine, but I don’t know how true that is.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Clean and unclean

This year, France is vying for the red badge of courage by banning the use of disposable packaging for fast food consumed on the premises. That is, if you eat at McDonald’s, the restaurant is required to serve your food in reusable containers rather than paper or plastic containers that are thrown away after use. Like a conventional restaurant.

At first glance, it seems like a good idea. Maybe it is. But questions soon arise. It’s ironic that a country that was hysterically paranoid only a year or two ago about spreading a virus with a mortality of less than 0.5%—to the point of locking people up at home with prison terms for escapees—now wants everyone to share food containers with strangers in fast-food restaurants. How well will these containers be washed?

How many infections of all types will be spread by inadequately cleaned containers? That remains to be seen. If you’ve ever noticed the condition of the reusable trays in fast-food places, you can understand my concern—and trays don’t actually touch the food.

The rules don’t apply to take-out food, thank goodness. If and when I can again afford fast food, I think I’ll limit myself to take-out food.

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