Err, yes, you are rubbish dear

Or buying a cup of tea at a motorway service station. (Unit price, what? Maybe 2p? Sale price? £2.75. I\’m a rubbish capitalist and can\’t do the sums but isn\’t that something like about 20,000% profit?)

No, that\’s not profit, no.

There\’s this little thing called \”overheads\” that have to be paid. You know, trivial things, like the building, the furniture, the equipment to make the tea. Heck if it takes 1 minute of labour to make a cup of tea then that\’s 10 pence of minimum wage labour right there.

Consider, for example, newspapers. This morning\’s Observer weighs what, 100 grammes (sorry, many years since I actually knew the weight of newspapers)? And at €500 per tonne newsprint that\’s 5 cent\’s worth of paper. We\’ll give you another 5 cents for the ink shall we?

The paper sells for £2 I think? So, why aren\’t you making a £1.9something profit on every copy? What\’s that? You\’re losing £30 million a year because there are more expenses to pay than just the paper and ink was it?

Yes love, you really are rubbish at not just this capitalism thing but basic numbers too.

12 thoughts on “Err, yes, you are rubbish dear”

  1. Bloody Hell. Had assumed a random throwaway comment was being picked on here. Upon clicking on the link, discovered the rest of the article was meant to be a semi-intellectual critique of capitalism and productivity. And is, if anything, even wronger. Perhaps I’m a greedy jealous scumbag, or perhaps it’s this January’s encounter with the taxman speaking, but my main thought after reading that was ‘I really ought to find a way to get paid for writing rubbish too…’

    Question for the more media savvy. If you get paid to write an ‘Opinion’ piece, does that absolve you of the responsibility of doing any actual research? (Even the fundamental ‘look up basic terms in the dictionary’ variety?) If you publish something clearly marked as ‘Opinion’, clearly you aren’t obliged to ensure it’s not total nonsense and obviously you still need to keep it free of libel, but are you meant to make sure it’s not full of Wrong? (I reckoned this piece combined roughly equal amounts of Nonsense and Wrong.)

    Tim adds: With opinion pieces fact checking (in the UK system) is entirely down to the writer. In the US there will be fact checkers but not in the UK.

  2. Plus of course our government places additional costs on service stations – the requirement to operate 24/7 and have a host of specific facilities that aren’t used for half the time.

    So next time you stop at Leicester Forest and visit the loo, sit and rest with your flask of tea and sandwich prepared by a loved one – think of how all those £2.75 cups of tea are providing that free service!

  3. my favourite comment on that laughable pile of steaming typing:


    15 January 2012 11:33AM

    This is quite possibly the stupidest article I’ve read in the last, oh, day or so. Let’s just review the key messages, shall we:

    1. It’s OK to steal from successful companies because they can afford it
    2. It’s OK to steal from successful companies because their profits are, by definition, a result of exploitation
    3. It’s OK to walk out of a shop without paying if the shopkeeper doesn’t provide a payment process I feel comfortable with. Note (a): apparently I don’t have an option to leave the goods behind and shop somewhere else – I must leave with the goods and without paying.
    4. The fact that Tesco have self-checkout means they must not have traditional checkouts, so I don’t have to pay. Note (a) applies.
    5. I’m far too busy and important to wait to pay – I must pay immediately or not at all. Note (a) applies here too.
    6. Travelling (in a car, bus, train, on a bike) made in factories by automated machinery to a major supermarket chain that replaced many small local businesses whose owners and staff had to find alternative sources of income, where I’d expect to pay using a card supported by a whole automated infrastructure, via a checkout supported by a whole automated infrastructure, staffed by people paid via a he automated infrastructure is all OK. Automated checkout, however, possesses some unique property that makes it the one service that should never have been automated.
    7. Because Tesco’s boss appears to have done something wrong, I can too.

    There – I think that’s captured everything. One final point: can you please clarify whether it’s only Anthony W-T who’s allowed to nick stuff from Tesco, or whether we all are?”

  4. It is also quite instructive that the “bit obvious and offensive” share sale has “netting him £200,000”. Whereas in the linked article, the profits from the alleged market abuse were somewhat less at £47,450.

    Of course, he didn’t “net” £200,000, in financial terms. He grossed it – cost price, trading costs and tax still need to be taken in to account. And 404.5p to 316.8p is a 21.7% drop not 16%.

    But then we’d already decided you needed to be both ignorant and innumerate to write economics or business articles for GMG, hadn’t we?

    And, Flatcap, thanks for posting nick’s comment. I just can’t drag myself through the screeds of drivel to find the occasional nugget from somebody who didn’t get their economics from SWP pamphlets (or our favourite WGCE.)

  5. “Economics” for journalists:
    1. Write article for Guardian (no cost) excoriating the profit motive
    2. E mail to editor (cost = 1/10,000 of web subscription, say 0.2p)
    3. Trouser fee, make 50,000% profit

  6. Just a little something for Tesco haters. A local town here in Sussex gained a Tesco a couple of years back.

    Even I thought it would destroy the High Street.

    Recently I had a conversation with an owner of a small shop who told me that the footfall down the High Street had improved since the opening. She was amazed to be benefited but she was quite right. Since our conversation, several new businesses have started up in what was (pre Tesco) a town that most people didn’t want to visit.

  7. “if it takes 1 minute of labour to make a cup of tea then that’s 10 pence”

    Ah, but Tim, you’re forgetting – jobs are a benefit, not a cost!

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