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Who could possibly think something like this could work?

If Mr. Flaherty is serious about stopping consumer gouging, spurring capital investment and attaining more balance in global markets, then he'll need much more than jawboning. He'll have to regulate retail margins to stop the current exchange-rate rip-off
The answer? Jim Stanford, economist with the Canadian Auto Workers union, who helpfully (though needlessly) points out:
I am a socialist
No kidding. Imagine a government department trying to monitor each transaction between two parties to determine if it is 'fair'. Imagine them trying to determine the 'real cost' of the simplest item while accounting for all the special discounts, extra services, and incentives that accompany many sales. Trying to create a 'carbon budget' would be simpler...

It's a real shame that the Globe and Mail has fallen to such low standards in who they let write for them. It's almost like they have no standards at all, really...

Okay, let me seriously answer Stanford's argument. The rising Canadian dollar has invisibly raised the prices on all goods and services in the country. Stanford believes that it's pointless to ask the evil, bloodsucking corporations to lower their prices, as Jim Flaherty has done, because, well... they're evil, bloodsucking corporations that only care about draining your pockets. That price rise is theirs, and they're going to keep it, and there's nothing any of you can do about it. [insert evil laugh here]

While I don't think they're evil, I do agree that companies would like to extract as much margin as they can in each transaction. That's the nature of business, and I think it's a good thing. But... those companies have competition. Consumers have choice, and they can look at price, and they can send a message to businesses that continue to overcharge. They don't have to shop there, and businesses that don't react to the changing currency situation will start to earn a bad reputation that will be very difficult to erase.

Of course, consumers will only be able to send this message if they're aware of what's happened themselves. There's been some grumbling for a little while, but the story hadn't made it into the mainstream. But Flaherty has now done that. What Stanford doesn't understand (beyond everything about economics) is that Flaherty was speaking to the consumers, not the retailers. He reminded them of their power and their role in the economy. People are talking about this issue. They will now be reevaluating their brand loyalties, and smart businesses will act quickly, as Walmart is already doing:

In a press release, the company said it has been negotiating with suppliers for more than a year to have wholesale prices better reflect the strengthening Canadian dollar.

"Canadians are not satisfied, Wal-Mart Canada is not satisfied, and negotiations continue," Mario Pilozzi, Wal-Mart Canada's president and CEO, said in the release.

"We are the agent for our customers, and will continue to work proactively with suppliers to negotiate lower prices. We are committed to turning our negotiations into many pleasant surprises for our customers between now and the New Year."

Leftists constantly want to take individual responsibilities away from people. I don't think it's really because they want the power for themselves -- though it is a nice bonus-- but because they think individuals are incapable of properly making decisions and are helpless at spurring change. Usually the powers they seek are minor, though they are numerous -- as the term 'creeping socialism' implies. But giving government the power to monitor and control consumer transactions would impose a totalitarian system almost instantly.

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Comments

I wonder if PC tablets are consumer products whose price is decreasing. Cool eh?

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