We've often opined on the negative externalities that emanate from pervasive and consistent price inflation in this rag. Most of our analysis has focused on the effects this has on the balance sheet of an individual, the ways in which it perturbs the incentives of the productive class and their ability to bring goods and services to the market, and how price inflation manifests in non-obvious ways; mainly shrinkflation. One externality that we haven't covered at length, but is beginning to rear its head is the complete degradation in the quality of services as people stop showing up for work.
When money doesn't work people stop working. Over the last week I have come across anecdotal evidence that seems to hint that we may be reaching the point where simple services that everyone takes for granted rapidly deteriorate or simply cease to exist at all. One of the services that many take for granted is having people available at the check out line when you go to pay for something. Above is a video of a group of customers at a Dollar General who were unable to check out because no one was at the store to man the cash register. One of the shoppers had to take matters into her own hands, hop behind the register and check people out herself. This is video evidence of something similar to what I have experienced at my local Walgreens many times over the last six months. It's never gotten to the point where I had to hop behind the register, but I can recall at least five times when I've had to walk to the back of the store to find the manager to check me out after waiting by the empty register for a couple of minutes. Here's another example of this playing out at a La Quinta Inn hotel the other week.
These are but a couple examples of services that have been taken for granted for decades not being available within the last month. Many people responded to the tweet I sent out earlier this week opining that the Dollar General incident is simply a one-off case, or that I must not have visited a Dollar General store in awhile because this is not an uncommon occurance. That could definitely be the case, but I don't think it is. Especially when you consider the incentives at play. We're living through generationally high levels of inflation right now in the US and wages for these lower skilled services are not growing at all, let alone anywhere near the rate of price inflation. Why would someone go to a mind numbing job to make essentially no money? What is the reward on the other side of the paycheck outside of a reminder of how quickly you are falling behind? If the paycheck isn't going to allow an individual to keep their head above water anyway, why even go to work?
This is the insidiousness of the fiat system playing out in real time. Price inflation induced by money printing is a killer of dignity and hope. When people become convinced that no amount of work can afford them with a dignified life they will stop showing up for work. Their time could be better spent doing things that provide relative enjoyment even if they don't result in a paycheck. The paycheck they would have received wouldn't even produce a marginal increase in the enjoyment they experience without a job. Might as well go on welfare and do what they please.
This is an alarming trend that, if it is real, signals tough times ahead. One of the non-obvious effects of inflation is a material decline in the quantity and quality of services that people simply expect to be there. Even if you are able to make a living and put yourself in a position to comfortably survive higher price inflation, no amount of money you make will force those who don't receive dignity from their work into the job market. And you will notice a decay in your quality of life as a result.
Bread and circuses alarm bells are screaming. You shouldn't care about Taylor Swift dating a football player.