The Column, No. 54:
High Gun Prices, or Are They Really?
We all like to complain about gun prices and about everything that goes along with it. Our continual griping, grousing, and carping may well be totally misplaced. It takes more dollars to acquire quality guns not because of misguided notions of greedy gun companies. It takes more dollars to buy firearms today because we have seen to it that our dollars are worth far less than they were a year ago and the dollar is far less desirable as a result.
We don't have to pay a great deal of attention to the current state of the United States to understand that our government is growing, bleeding money daily. We blew many fortunes for two stimulus packages that worked so well, our government feels we need a third. Our “cash for clunkers” sold more Toyotas than anything else. We are broke, worse than broke, we can't pay Red China what we owe them. Yet, we need to spend another trillion dollars to partially “fix” health care, or at least some feel we should embark on more ineffectual mega-government with money we don't have. Social Security is in deep peril, the U.S. Post Office is broke, no one talks about securing our borders or actually having an official U.S. Energy Policy these days. We cannot possibly fund the programs we have in place currently, yet as this is written apparently another 30,000 troops have been ordered to Afghanistan at great monetary and human cost for no reason the unemployed American could fathom. The calls for tort reform and cutting waste in government are faint, shallow and tinny.
What of the American Citizen and his guns? Yes, of course I've heard the lament of overpriced guns, but that isn't strictly true. One year ago, it took about $1.20 to buy a Euro. Today, to buy that Euro takes around $1.50. Assuming no price increase at all, we are buying at a 20% discount. Raising prices 25% across the board from a year ago by companies tethered to the Euro is no price increase at all, a 25% price increase in greenbacks means a price freeze in Euros. Think that Belgium Browning, Caesar Guerini, or Benelli costs 20% too much? Well, thank our our own lack of federal financial restraint for that one.
According to the U.S, Department of Labor, 2007 data shows the labor cost of manufacturing in 32 countries. The $30.56 U.S. Labor cost is low compared to most industrialized nations, lower than Canada and lower than most of Europe. It equates to $38.75 in Belgium, $37.68 in France, and $50.73 in Germany. Since 2007, the U.S. has for the most part just lost more ground. Back in 2002, American labor costs exceeded Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Italy and was on a par with Switzerland. Today, the tables have all too dramatically turned.
In 1970, a Remington 1100 went for $134.99 retail. In 2008 dollars, that equates to $1042.04. The thousand dollar semi-auto of today was middle of the road from a historical perspective and if we want Euro-based guns we pay the price for the flaccid buying power of the U.S. greenback against it. Far from the notion of shockingly expensive European guns, the numbers indicate they should actually be quite a bit more today than they actually are. Gun prices aren't high, the dollars we use rapidly have rapidly declined in value of late. Things are not exactly what they appear to be.
Copyright 2009 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.