• Connecticut! The Place Where Your Government Is Your Best Friend, And Where Your Grocer Is Your Bitter Enemy

    April 21, 2024
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    From time to time, we are treated to a manufactured fake-news event promoted by the Connecticut Democrat Party in their sworn mission to damage Connecticut's fragile and failing economy.  This latest event concerning “elevated” grocery store prices led us to a pseudo-intellectual faux economic mission reverberating all over state-run media outlets last week stating that grocery stores of all sizes are "price gouging", are earning "excessive" profits, and telling us that only state government can fix this problem. During a charade of a press conference held on April 10, Democrat Attorney General William Tong stated: “We won’t stop!” in announcing the inquiry. “We will keep going until we have an understanding of this market.”

    First, I had no idea Democrat Attorney General William Tong had degrees in economics and/or accounting and was an expert in grocery store logistics and management.  Secondly, I had no idea that grocery stores large and small were price gouging?  Third, I had no idea that Democrat Attorney General William Tong could instantaneously get his finger around the concept of runaway inflation which has been occurring since Democrat President Biden has taken office in 2021. 

    My good friend Tony De Angelo talked about this new Tong investigation at length on this past Tuesday in his weekly segment on the Lee Elci Show 94.9 where Tony pointed out that the 63 page Federal Trade Commission report (“FTC”, “report”) sourcing this press charade, never even once mentioned the term “price gouging” therein. This is even more startling, considering  that the report was engendered by the far-left Biden-appointed Marxist-inspired Commissioner of the FTC, Lina Khan. And as Tony pointed out, who can trust any representation the media-political machine makes in Connecticut, especially when one remembers the debacles of the Scott Franklin-BLM mural vandalism a year ago in Hartford, or much more the lies, graft, and mismanagement of Covid-19.

    As a primer to the political class, there are many costs involved in running a business.  In order to remain in business, a business needs to make a profit.  A profit may be defined as when the amount of revenue is greater than the costs of producing/selling a service or product. 

    In the case of Connecticut's grocery stores, revenue must exceed the cost of products they are selling. 

    It is very difficult for any business to operate during a period of runaway inflation and dysfunctional energy costs such as we have experienced since the Biden regime took office in 2021.  Depending on what you may see, food prices over the past three years have gone up between 30% and 120%.  Food store operating costs have basically doubled along with increases in most other consumers products such as energy, housing, insurances and transportation.  Everything we need to live on has gone up dramatically. And everything we either have or do or purchase has a cost factor tied to energy. When one considers the fantastical and irrational wind-driven climate change-paralyzed energy policy of Connecticut, none of what we see is difficult to understand in the least of ways.

    For those of us who are based in reality and candor, here is a mere sample of the costs that grocery stores incur when trying to sell those "overpriced" almonds or eggs in their stores: labor costs that include hourly wages, social security taxes, workers’ compensation insurance, mandated Family Medical leave taxes, benefits paid by the grocer including (but not limited to) paid sick, vacation, personal, holiday time off, medical and dental insurances. If there is a company retirement plan, it is an administrative monster to administrate; if there is not, the store must deal by law with the confused, horrific (and inept) “My CT Savings” plan presided over by a state Comptroller with no understanding of the present value of a dollar and his accompanying four-star CT administrative state Retirement Security Authority.

    But wait! There is more!  

    Like Insurance costs! These costs include insurance premiums paid on property including accident, personal property liability, vehicles owned by the grocery, and theft. 

    There are also the costs of transportation to get the products to the store (since fossil fuels have been attacked by the Democrat Party, prices have skyrocketed). 

    There are also the costs of transaction fees by customers using debit and credit cards. 

    Taxes are a large cost to the grocer that include but are not limited to permits, licenses, local property taxes, state corporate income taxes including surtaxes, sales taxes collected and sent to the state, state and federal taxes on fuel, state unemployment compensation taxes, and other miscellaneous taxes paid to the state. 

    There are also increasing utility costs that include one of the highest electric rates in the country, internet, phone, and natural gas. 

    The costs of all of the food that is sold by the store also have to be factored in. The costs of maintaining and cleaning the stores both inside and outside need to be added.  We should include the costs of shoplifting and theft in grocery stores as items stolen by criminals in Crime Free Democrat Connecticut are removed from inventory.  There are more costs both implicit and explicit including the actual time spent filling out governmental bureaucratic forms, but we can save that for another time.  

    In review of all of the above costs, it is clear that just about all of our elected officials have no clue of the costs and burdens involved in running the "profit gouging" grocery stores in Connecticut as they are the people responsible for causing the increases in the first instance due to their burdensome and horrifically costly policies.  

    I am also confused as to how "price gouging" can exist given all these costs?  And if most of these grocers are private businesses, what right does Connecticut's state government have to either impose limits on their "highest" profits and or tell them what they can or can't charge in their stores based on exceptionally low profit margin which are traditionally 1% to 3% of gross sales?

    But I know it is possible to get more votes in an election year by bashing an entire visible industry like evil capitalist grocers.  This burden is especially obscene as this same government placed such costly and ridiculous protocols on grocers to stay open during the pandemic while erasing their meager profit margins. But during that same pandemic, didn't King Ned Lamont The Unaccountable’s family hedge fund Oak HC/FT, make some incredible profits at Connecticut Taxpayers expense during the same Covid-19 crisis and such fact is not even disputed by his sycophants, toadies, and lackeys? Why has that not yet been investigated by William Tong?

    We also see sales tax revenues at an all-time high due to inflation.  Why isn't this considered "price gouging"?  Why isn't there an investigation launched to study this, as well? 

    Why would any rational person want to own and operate a business in Connecticut? 

    Connecticut still has over $100 to $150 billion dollars in short- and long-term debt along with unfunded liabilities. Connecticut is still a bottom five state in our country in all business categories including high taxes, excessive regulations, a pitifully poor infrastructure, and is still incapable of creating new jobs to get out of the recession of 2008-09.  Rather than deal with this compounded corrupt and inept mess, the solution for Connecticut Democrats is to slam the grocery industry and put them in their place.  I can only imagine the contraction in the grocery industry in the state after this latest farcical attempt by elected rulers to demand, demean and destroy their profitability.  Yet, this is another example of a state government's excess and its economic illiteracy and incompetency as to how the economy works.  The food shortages and food deserts will be coming soon due to your local closed and out-of-business "profit gouging" retail grocery store, thanks to the omnipotent Connecticut Democrat Party. 

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    Bob Swick

    I am an Adjunct Professor of Business and Economics and have taught for 41 years for several different colleges and universities. I have a Bachelors of Science in Journalism and a Masters of Science in Economics. I have written about economics and political issues in my blog "Swick Speak" since 2006.

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