When meanness and capitalism in full splendour is celebrated

Chips, waru or fries as they are called is a delicacy in urban areas globally. I am not a fan of chips: I ate enough when I was growing up.

For reasons that leave my head spinning, potatoes are vegetables! Let’s leave the semantics alone for now and shift to meanness.

If you have taken chips at high-end restaurants, or pretenders to high-end recently, you must have noted a new squared container with a handle for serving chips. I wonder if anyone has a patent for it.

At first, I thought the new container made of something like wire mesh was to dry potatoes, sorry chips because of deep frying.

But chips in these premises rarely drip oil. Why the new container? The aha moment came when the chips in the container were put on a plate.

Clearly, you get much fewer chips on this container.

The new chips container is nothing but a symbol of meanness.

Simply mesmerise the customer with a flamboyantly designed container, reduce the amount of chips, charge him the same price or more and you are in the money. Is that one of the unintended consequences of Covid-19?

Innovation or robbery

Moralists would call that meanness or plain cheating. But economists would call that capitalism or entrepreneurship. Others could be bolder and call it innovation.  It’s an open question what farmers who grow potatoes would call it. I suspect robbery.

The farmer after selling a bag of potatoes for Sh2,000 would be aghast to find someone else making Sh15,000 from the same bag with less sweat.

Academics would add the term value addition. Is planting potatoes and weeding not a value addition? Why is chopping potatoes and boiling them in oil more value addition than back-breaking work like weeding?

It’s not just in chips where meanness reigns. A cup of tea in urban areas is smaller than in rural but costs more. Even with costs of production like rent and labour, it’s still overpriced. A kilogram of milk goes for Sh40. A cup of tea goes for Sh200 in uncool places.

Clearly, the border between meanness, entrepreneurship and capitalism is very thin.

With time, we learn that being exploited and paying more is cool. We even boast about it.

Who wants to be heard complaining that he can’t afford to pay for something and thought poor? And writing about this may have me declared unsophisticated and old-fashioned. Have you been a victim of meanness? Talk to us.