CNN, taking a break from its “Trump Sucks, All The Time” programming, recently offered a breathless hand-wringing about Costco’s $4.99 rotisserie chicken. Apparently, the item is hugely popular, and a big attraction for customers. CNN devoted much digital ink to the company’s efforts to vertically integrate its rotisserie chicken business, and as much or more to the company’s willingness to tolerate eight figure losses in order to keep the price at $4.99.

In reading the article, I marveled at the authors’ apparent surprise at all this – as if the concept of a loss leader, a business/marketing strategy that’s existed as long as retail has, is some strange new marvel.

Beyond that wide-eyed ignorance, there’s the inevitable scolding. ‘How does this business effort mesh with Costco’s “socially responsible” image?’ ‘What do the enviros and other busybodies have to say?’

What is barely addressed, however (one sentence: “cheap Kirkland Signature rotisserie chickens aren’t only a quick way for families to get dinner on the table…”), is the benefit of this remarkably low price to poor and working class families. Not only is the bird cheaper than you’ll find in supermarkets, it’s bigger. Quite a bit bigger. They routinely weigh in over 3 lbs. Purchasers not only save a couple bucks per bird, they get up to twice as much bird.

To the typical six-figure earning “progressive activist,” the cost benefit of buying a Costco rotisserie chicken is “in the noise.” But, to a working class family of four, living paycheck to paycheck, it can make a difference. Getting the necessities of life for a few fewer shekels is not a convenience, it can be make-or-break.

This is a microcosm example of the message behind the aphorism “first world problems.” The people who have the time and resources to focus on the perceived “big problems” such as global warming and the culture wars and, more importantly, to signal their virtues about such matters, scarcely give a moment’s thought to the little things like cheap rotisserie chicken. And, because they don’t, they’re less likely to think about the financial impact of their grand ideas on those to whom cheap rotisserie chicken is a significant boon – other than by promising them “free stuff.”

As I recently blogged, the current message from our progressives to the working classes, to minorities, and to the poor, is “we’re going to make your lives more expensive, but don’t worry – we’ll give you some ‘free’ stuff to make up for it.” That this turns all those people into thralls, forever dependent on the state, either doesn’t register (see: the earnest naifs who embrace all this without critical thought) or is part of the plan (see: the cynical power-whores who want to lay permanent claim to the nation’s governance).

Thus, the mindset that raises all sorts of cautions about Costco’s cheap chicken, with barely dipping a toe into the waters of those who benefit from that cheap chicken. So it goes with the rest of the modern progressive world view. The minimum wage should be raised, and all sorts of mandates imposed on employers, regardless of impact on prices and the cost of living felt by the poor and working classes. Health insurance companies must be mandated to cover a giant and growing list of practices and procedures, regardless of impact on premiums. Energy should be more expensive, to save the planet, no matter that poor families will have to wear sweaters and blankets in their homes. A seemingly endless succession of taxes and fees (and fines – inner city poor are treated as revenue centers by the progressive governments that supposedly care most for them) are laid upon gasoline, telephones, and other life “staples,” no matter that they hurt the poor.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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