But forget airlines: look at other things “too cheap for what they are”. It may be tactless to mention it just as our attention is on rising prices of essentials — food and fuel — but the point is that too-cheap things are generally inessentials. The two phenomena are wickedly connected. When something is too cheap for its value the odds are that someone’s work, physical wellbeing and security are being undervalued to make it so. A sweatshop, damaged ecosystem, wrecked neighbourhood, industrial blight, employment kept deliberately insecure: something usually pays the price when top-of-the-tree consumers get a bargain.
The entire aim of having an economy is so that those things which used to be the exclusive property of those at the top of the tree become those things which everyone has.
An obvious example is fast fashion. We’ve known for years about clothes made under harsh supervision, often far away, by employees underpaid, exhausted, too young or economically enslaved, just so that a party dress or a hoodie can sell for five quid and be worn twice. There has been plenty of exposure of global sweatshops, many pictures of mountains of discarded garments washed up on African beaches or rotting in Turkish landfill. They may not be great clothes but they were functional, our ragged ancestors would have treasured them, and their very cheapness is an insult to the hands that made them or tended the machines spinning their fabrics out of oil products and fossil-fuelled energy. Argue if you will that cheap schmutter is a boon to our poorest, but that doesn’t explain the tonnes that turn up in landfill. Better to raise wages and welfare so everyone can buy, keep and mend decent stuff.
The, ahem, linen shirt. One of which I bought for €4, just to make a point about it.
Just think back. 100 years ago people would have been saying that three squares a day could become too cheap. 50 that central heating. Twats.