Everybody’s the Boss

There’s a certain wrongheadedness — an insecurity — to the feeling of which Rita Lussier’s expression is merely one example of many:

“Yeah, the $4-dollar-a-gallon thing is hard to take,” he says as he puts the hose back on the hook and screws the cover on his tank. All the while, he keeps smiling, smiling, smiling.
And then, just before he hops in his truck, this is what he says: “I just pass the cost along to my customers.”
I JUST PASS THE COST ALONG TO MY CUSTOMERS.
He’s not alone.
The electric company is asking for another rate hike. The airlines are raising their fares, some are even charging for baggage. No question, when companies have to pay more for fuel, what else can they do?
That’s right. They just pass the cost along to their customers. …
So here we are, standing at the pain station and what are we supposed to do? Who do you and I pass our costs on to? We, who are bearing the brunt of all the landscapers, the painters, the plumbers, the electric companies, the natural gas companies, the grocery stores, the buses, the trains, the airplanes, the state and federal government and everyone else who’s putting their load on our backs.

What a declaration of helplessness! Sure, Lussier goes on to offer some ways to use less fuel, but she nonetheless misses the reality that everybody is both supplier and customer. I mean this in the sense that the landscaper with whom she’s speaking still has costs for the fuel that he uses for his home and his private vehicles, but I also mean it in the sense that anybody with a job is ultimately supplying something to somebody and every business is seeking to “buy” money from clients with their goods and their services.
So, pass your costs on to your employer. If you don’t think you’ve the grounds to seek more, find ways to make yourself more apparently valuable. On the other side (and probably more easily), pass your costs on to businesses by doing your own landscaping, painting your own house, learning basic plumbing and electric, perhaps growing some of your food, walking more, and demanding that your government take less from you.
Nobody’s passive in the economy, and to turn to federal legislators for help — as Lussier suggests, even providing Sheldon Whitehouse’s phone number — is to dig one’s nation more deeply into helplessness, because nothing’s free, especially when it comes from Washington.

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Phil
Phil
13 years ago

Your expression of helplessness has echos reaching back into the 1930’s. I feel a little bad for you. You apparently believe that can “pass your cost” onto your employer. This from one who does not want a raise in the miminum wage. “Find ways to make yourself more apparently valuable” Do you really think this would turn the trick. Talk to those who were “downsized” in the 80’s about value. They lost their jobs while companies prospered. Sure they were hired back but with substantial reductions in wages and benefits.
Of course the landscaper sited in your post would respond by raising his fee for services. That’s your Market for you. And your right in the fact that all up and down in the economy the increase in energy costs will be felt.
Those providing services at the higher cost will see a drop off in clients who cannot afford the increases. Your free market is doing a bang up job.
Nobody’s passive in the economy, and to turn to federal legislators for help — as Lussier suggests, even providing Sheldon Whitehouse’s phone number — is to dig one’s nation more deeply into helplessness, because nothing’s free, especially when it comes from Washington.
I have no idea what you mean by “Nobody’s passive”. Certainly the government should not be passive. Through regulation and taxation government could create a fairer economic climate for all of us. That should be what we expect from our government. We’re seeing what we can expect from regressive taxation and unrestrained markets.

chuckR
chuckR
13 years ago

“Certainly the government should not be passive. Through regulation and taxation government could create a fairer economic climate for all of us.”
We certainly have a sterling example of how well government performs here in RI. Why on earth would you think that government, be it state or federal, would do better by doing more of the same?
Through thick and thin, democrat and republican control of congress and/or presidency, the one constant has been a lack of foresight regarding energy. It isn’t as if we didn’t get a wakeup call 35 years ago. The best we can hope for is that they stay the hell away and let the market work.

Citizen Critic
Citizen Critic
13 years ago

This is very true.
It also applies to government.
The high costs of public corruption, all powerful public sector unions, illegal aliens, welfare, and welfare fraud –all have been passed along to the RI taxpayers.
Please note that I mention “welfare fraud” as a separate category. Very few people talk about it openly, but it alone probably drains hundreds of millions of dollars a year, according to a friend of mine inside the department.
All these costs are now passed along to you.
Maybe RI should post a new tagline at its borders:
“Welcome to Rhode Island, now please bend over.”
This is why I moved out of RI in 2007. I feel alot less stress now, and the quality of life is so much better. I highly recommend moving out.
🙂

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

Of course taxes are part of the equation too.
The “progressives” love corporate taxation, but that just gets added into the price. The last person in the supply chain, i.e., the end consumer, ultimately pays ALL the taxes. Things like the corporate tax merely shield from that end consumer how much they are actually paying in taxes.
That is also why places like the Northeast have “high incomes” and “high costs of living.” In the end, the people here are WORSE off than their “lower income” peers in the Southeast / Southwest.
Why?
Because to make enough after tax income to buy a house etc. here also means that you’re in a higher FEDERAL tax bracket due to the “progressive” tax schedule. So the net income / net cost of living differential can leave a “higher income” individual / family in the Northeast worse off than they would be at a lower income job in the lower taxes Southeast.
Then add into the mix the movement of employers of companies that have to compete on a national basis and so gain from being in the lower tax / lower cost of living Southeast, and our “higher income” Northeasterner confronts ever-diminishing job opportunities, making the far more vulnerable in the event of a layoff (which itself is far more likely with each passing years as more employers leave and/or bypass the Northeast).
All thanks to our high taxes used to support the public sector unions and welfare industry.

OldTimeLefty
13 years ago

To Citizen Cricket,
Since you moved out of Rhode Island, why don’t you stay out of Rhode Island. Spew your poison in whatever state you now reside and let those of us who remain here handle the state’s problems. You’re the one who jumped ship, so stop rubbing your hind legs together and shut up.
To Justin,
Tell me again how the blind, selfish and somehow benevolent unseen hand of the so-called free market is working to the betterment of our society. If a business had been as unheeding to its customers as the “free market” has been to its citizens it would be as bankrupt fiscally as the “free market” is morally and socially.
OldTimeLefty

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

>>Since you moved out of Rhode Island, why don’t you stay out of Rhode Island. Spew your poison in whatever state you now reside and let those of us who remain here handle the state’s problems. You’re the one who jumped ship, so stop rubbing your hind legs together and shut up.
Kind of like saying “unless you’re part of the Mob, you have no business criticizing organized crime.”
Or, “unless you’re a member of the Rhode Island Democratic Party, you have no business criticizing political corruption in Rhode Island.”

Citizen Critic
Citizen Critic
13 years ago

Olf Time Lefty,
The only hate I see being spewed is the hate of the RI Democratic elitists who hate the state constitution and hate the taxpayers and hate the children of the state.
That hate is crystal clear.
But, the RI Democratic elitists sure love being in bed with the unions and they sure love their iron fisted political control and they sure love skimming the money for their special interests. They sure love padding their wallets!
Stay out of RI’s business? Let RI handle its own problems?
Maybe if Rhode Islanders looked at how other states succeeded, maybe you could solve your serious problems. If you could get beyond your provincialism, maybe you would learn something.

Ken
Ken
13 years ago

“Free Market”
Let’s see, there was Narragansett Electric, Blackstone Valley Electric, Newport Electric and Block Island Power Co to name a few and Providence Gas Co, Blackstone Valley Gas, Bristol & Warren Gas Company, Newport Gas Co. and the Pawtucket Gas Company also.
Now Rhode Island only has National Grid and Block Island Power Co suppliers of electricity; National Grid as supplier of natural gas.
National Grid already had one rate increase and is proposing another rate increase that will add approximately $22 more to the average monthly utility bills.
Which is interesting because no where in the United States will you find a greater number of electric generating power plants clustered together than in the Blackstone Valley leading into and including Northern Rhode Island?
“Free Market” is working and is well in Rhode Island

David
David
13 years ago

You said, “So, pass your costs on to your employer. If you don’t think you’ve the grounds to seek more, find ways to make yourself more apparently valuable. On the other side (and probably more easily), pass your costs on to businesses by doing your own landscaping, painting your own house, learning basic plumbing and electric, perhaps growing some of your food, walking more, and demanding that your government take less from you.”
So you and Rita agree. You both want to place demands on your government – just different ones. You demand less taxes. Rita demands more action on her behalf. I can envision her claim. She and Sheldon are both from good stock – how dare a lowly worker get away with this. $4 gas is turning this country upside down!
You are correct about Rita’s mistake. The landscaper’s income did not change at all by charging his customers more for his services. He probably has made his services less attractive to his customers and potential customers. Not exactly a win. Rita’s income, whatever it is, has not changed either. Her costs have, but so have everyone else’s; including the despised landscaper.
I have a problem with your assertion that government should have no role in rising energy costs. The marketplace that you kowtow to is not a place you have any effect on. It is in the hands of foreign interests. Your government is your only agent. You had better hope that your elected officials are finally forced to act by the demands of their constituents.

Ken
Ken
13 years ago

FROM WPRI CH-12: “Regional economists predict dim outlook for Rhode Island Updated: May 31, 2008 02:16 AM PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – The outlook is not bright for Rhode Island’s economy this year. The latest twice-a-year forecast from a regional panel of economists the state’s economy is expected to perform poorly, with no improvement seen until the third quarter of next year. The New England Economic Partnership says that in the first three months of this year, more jobs were lost than created in Rhode Island. The biggest losses were in manufacturing, retail, professional and business services and financial services. The state is expected to add 4,900 jobs in 2009, a 1 percent growth rate over this year. The group says Rhode Island is expected to see the slowest economic growth of any New England state in the next five years.” The federal government, nor state government, nor city/town government is going to bail any individual out (unless you’re Bear Sterns) of the current economic mess and as long as there is a weak US dollar, investors will try to reap extra income out of commodities market driving prices up! There is nothing you can do as a quick fix but hunker down, grow your victory gardens, watch how you spend your money, try to save excess monies and hope for no job layoff. Been there and done that too many times living in Rhode Island. $4 a gallon gas in US (Molokai, HI is $5 a gallon) is better than $8.32 in Britain, $9.66 in France, $11.49 in Germany, $11.29 in Turkey, $5.67 in Brazil and $5.77 in Japan. Source (AP) 5/31/2008. One would have thought USA and automobile companies had learned their lesson during oil shortage of 1970s. Stop complaining and get over it! You are going to be… Read more »

Monique
Editor
13 years ago

“and to turn to federal legislators for help — as Lussier suggests, even providing Sheldon Whitehouse’s phone number — is to dig one’s nation more deeply into helplessness”
Yes. Respectfully, this is a non-starter. Our entire Congressional delegation believes in global warming but not illegal aliens. Encourage open borders by not enforcing our laws but further compound energy costs by not drilling for our own oil while advocating for a ridiculous tax on carbon.

Citizen Critic
Citizen Critic
13 years ago

In the last year I have had two notices from utilities, and they were both rate DECREASES.
🙂
Last I noticed, we were paying 6 cents per KWH for electricity here in Idaho.
What does National Grid charge Rhode Islanders these days? How badly are they raping you?
Has AG Patrick Lynch gone to bat for RI consumers to reduce your rates? Hahahahahahahaha.
http://PatrickLynchSucks.com
I have a big house here in Idaho and I only pay something like $75 a month for electricity. My winter gas bill for heating and hot water is approximately $300 in the winter, and maybe $80 in the summer.
You guys are getting screwed.. really badly.

OldTimeLefty
13 years ago

To Citizen Cricket and Tom W and to all of you
who equate OldTimeLefty with the Democratic Party.
PLEASE DO NOT CONFUSE OLDTIMELEFTY WITH A DEMOCRAT, AND NEVER MISTAKE HIM FOR A REPUBLICAN. A POX ON BOTH YOUR HOUSES.
I can assure you that OldTimeLefty is registered “Unaffiliated”.
Citizen Cricket and Tom W. you put me in the Dem. Party because it was obvious that I wasn’t a Republican. In your little either/or world that made me a Democrat, proof that neither of you can think politics beyond the 1+1+=2 stage. The world’s a helluva lot richer than the black or white place defined so clearly by your limited perceptions.
OldTimelefty

Ken
Ken
13 years ago

Citizen Critic,
You are getting screwed in Idaho worst than Rhode Island!
I moved out of Rhode Island to a Hawaiian 1,000 SF 2 bedroom condominium with a 21 FT glass wall living room overlooking the white sand beach, water and sunsets, 400FT waterfall views cascading off tropical mountains out bedroom windows, over 20 miles of continuous unspoiled beaches and parks, in a 27 acre tropical garden landscaped 24/7 gated/guarded community with 4 heated swimming, whirlpools, tennis, basketball courts and putting greens located on a private road in between two 18-hole championship golf courses with both clubhouses within walking distance. Wild peacocks roam the area and grounds. Most all trees and bushes bloom flowers of various colors.
Hawaii has the highest KW/Hr charge in the USA, My electric is $58 per month (no A/C required due to constant cool trade winds), no heating bills (AVG 82 degrees daytime and 70 degrees nighttime; winter skiing and snowboarding NOV-MAR on mountains), all hot water, city sewer, city water, cable TV, maintenance, landscaping, cleaning and guards are included in monthly condo fee of $440 a month. My property taxes are $225 this year due to City Council $100 rebate due to high cost of gasoline. Under state constitution any budget surplus must be returned to taxpayers; this is third year in row there has been a budget surplus and state income tax rebate in addition to city rebate, Hawaii has a nationally acclaimed public transit system where an unlimited yearly pass is $440 per adult. And yes, our gasoline is $4 a gallon.

Citizen Critic
Citizen Critic
13 years ago

Ken,
Hawaii sounds good.
Out here in Northern Idaho we have Lake Pend O’Reille which has roughly the same surface area as Narragansett Bay. There are a ton of lakes in general. Summer is absolutely awesome. Winter sports are good too and include snowmobiling, ice fishing, snowboarding, skiing, etc..
L hear Hawaii has very expensive real estate and a strong union presence. Is that true? Coupled with the admitted high cost of electricity and gasoline in Hawaii, I have to tell you that Idaho has the affordability edge.
Maybe next Spring my wife and I will come out and visit for a little vacation. How to reach you? We can grab a beer and laugh about RI.

Ken
Ken
13 years ago

Citizen Critic, Hawaii is the most isolated population center on the face of the earth. Hawaii is 2,390 miles from California (5 ½ hour flight); 3,850 miles from Japan; 4,900 miles from China; and 5,280 miles from the Philippines. On average, 80,000 tourists arrive on the Island of Oahu daily, 70,000 tourists stay in Waikiki Beach daily and 28,000 residents live in Waikiki Beach. Last year there were over 50 parades and 20 block parties held in Waikiki Beach which parties 24/7. You should see our tropical beaches which are natural white, brown, red, black and green sand; fine to course grain and average water temp of 77 degrees. Hawaii is over 1,600 miles long and Honolulu is the largest city in the world and ranked the 2nd cleanest city in the world to live in. Hawaii has a Republican Executive Branch and a Democratic controlled General Assembly. There are 8 major islands in Hawaii each different in topology, climate, people and resources. 9th adopted island is Las Vegas, NV where $500 discounted 1 week packages include (RT airfare, transfers, hotel and all food). Average house is $635,000 and condominium is $400,000. Hawaii is the 2nd most unionized state in the nation. Electricity is 27 cents KWH but that will be declining as more renewable energy projects come on line. As I indicated my total monthly electric bill is $58. The Island of Oahu is the only Hawaiian island that has refineries on it so gasoline is cheaper $3.95/gal but the local banks give 10 cents off cards to bank customers for purchasing gasoline at local gasoline stations. Hawaii excise tax is 4% where your Idaho sales tax is 6% and I believe property tax is lower in Hawaii (55 and over receive exemptions) verse Idaho and in my case… Read more »

Mike
Mike
13 years ago

I was at the Libertarian convention in Denver last weekend and talked briefly to a couple of the Hawaian delegation. They said the place is a leftist dominated sewer and you can’t think of raising a family there unless you are a millionaire. They also say the Republican governor is no good and the sales tax is going up and YOU PAY IT ON GROCERIES, CLOTHES, GASOLINE AND EVERY SERVICE IMAGINABLE. also that there is a surcharge and the tax is actually almost 5% on all of Oahu. Plus an 8.25 income tax-higher than RI and it kicks in on couples at $40,000.

Ken
Ken
13 years ago

Mike,
Beleive what you want.
There is no sales tax in Hawaii. There is an excise tax of 4% in Hawaii but on the Island of Oahu its is 4.5% to pay for new $3.7 billion light rail transit system which after built rate will reduce to 4% again.
Best magazine just ranked Honolulu as the best city in the USA to raise a family.
Honolulu is ranked the 2nd cleanest city in the world to live in.
Approximately 80,000 tourist arrive on the Island of Oahu daily.
So the Governor, Mayor, GA and people of Hawaii must be doing something right!

Mike
Mike
13 years ago

Well now, I’ve never been there-just giving you the views of 2 people who live there.
I know that, like California, things must be pretty bad for droves of people to leave such a great climate and I have met plenty of ex-Hawaiians now living in the desert (Nevada) because Hawaii is “too damn expensive” in their words. They call it the “Paradise Tax”.
Is it your opinion that a young couple with 2 kids, minimal net worth and under $100,000 in gross income can live comfortably? from what I heard no. My advice would be Idaho, Nevada or other points south and west of RI but not all the way west.

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