Why has Coke Zero gone up when the government’s sugar tax only applies to high-added sugar drinks?
In 1927, British astronomer and physicist Sir Arthur Eddington, coined the phrase ‘The arrow of time.’ What he was describing was the immutable flow of time, out of the past, and into the future. He explained that time has a direction – forwards – and that that direction is irreversible. For example, an egg’s shell can be broken, but not unbroken. You cannot go back into the past to unbreak a broken egg.
Coke Zero with no sugar
Now consider the prices we pay for things in the shops. Take, for example, a 330ml can of Coke Zero. When I was a kid, a can of Coke cost 25p. TWENTY-FIVE PENNIES. Today, in Waitrose, the same can will cost you £1.30.
Therein lies the connection between time and money (prices). Prices, like time, only go in one direction, and just as with time, the direction is seemingly irreversible. One cannot go back into the past and pay 25p for a can of Coke Zero, R Whites Lemonade, or Lilt for that matter.
Why is this? Why do prices always go up and never come down again? There’s a word that politicians and business people give this phenomenon… inflation. Inflation is what happens to a balloon when you blow air into it, or what happens to a man’s penis when he takes a Viagra tablet.
What goes up, must go up
Economists will tell you there are a number of causes of inflation – ‘market power’ (businesses charging as much for their products as they think they can get away with), ‘demand pull’ (more people competing for the same goods pushing up prices), ‘asset market boom’ (city boys and brokers dicking around with commodities futures, manipulating prices), and ‘supply shock’ (unpredictable disruption to supply chains such as war, weather, etc.)
It may indeed be the case that there are natural and inevitable causes of inflation leading to perpetual increases in prices. And just as the arrow of time travels in only one direction, it seems that inflation too always travels along that one, pre-determined trajectory…
…right up one’s arse.