"Comedy always works best when it is mean-spirited" - John Cleese

Author John Corby also writes as "Bulldogge" for the British Canadian newspaper.

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

10 Reasons I Left Britain #7. Prices

Say It Ain't So
Despite the rumours, it is just not true that absolutely everything in the United Queendom costs more than it does in Canada. No, it isn't true at all. Honestly. The price of a cup of tea in a cafe I know in the Greater Manchester area is much less than the price of a cup of steeped tea in Canada's favourite donut chain. But just about everything else really does cost more over 'ome.

Familiar Prices

I have been back to the Anglian Archipelago many times since I left there nearly 30 years ago. For several years in a row I stayed here in Canada until, one year, family obligations took me across the giant puddle again. A familiar high street sign beckoned this hungry traveller. As I entered the doors of the Burger King restaurant my eyes looked up at the menu board and everything looked comfortable and familiar. The prices looked just about the same as Canadian prices.

And then I remembered that the prices were in British pounds and were actually about double what I would expect to pay in the land of the ice and snow. When the time came to visit a petrol station, the same realization occured once more.

Pound and Dollar at Par?

It doesn't take a highly qualified economist to determine that the spending power of the pound in Britain is almost identical to the spending power of the dollar in Canada. After this awful realization dawned on me I ceased doing a mental conversion into Canadian dollars before making a purchase in Britain. Instead, I now have a travel budget in which Canadian dollars are directly substituted with British pounds.

Supply & Demand
So why does everything cost so much in Britain? Britain is a very small country with a comprehensive and efficient transportation network. The climate is mild. The population is double that of Canada, so the law of supply and demand used by economists should result in much lower prices.

It could be argued that our economy is influenced by the economy of the Excited States and that we are really in a trading area of nearly 300 million people - five times the population of the Queen's little islands. But then we have to remember that Britain is a member of the European Community which has a population approaching 500 million people.

Bricks & Mortar
My wife and I sold our nice little English three bedroom semi-detached home before we left for Canada at the tail end of 1981. The property boom in the Land of Hope and Glory has escalated prices so much that I doubt we could now afford to buy that home back.

So why are prices so high in Britain? Darned if I can explain it.

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