Canes, Umbrellas, and Economics

“Why is it that a piece of relatively complex engineering like an umbrella can be had for £3.50 and even an expensive one for £30 – when a decent cane (essentially a stick) can cost as much as £100?”

-DJ Black

I’d read the above line years ago- something buried deep in the comments an old post from Voice in the Corner. As such conundrums tend to do, this popped into my mind the other day, quite possibly because I’d managed to lose my third umbrella that week (one can only imagine the consequences if I had managed to lose three canes in a week, but I digress).

I’ve been the not-so-proud owner of many of those three-pound umbrellas, not to mention the sizable cohort of 3-dollar and 3-euro umbrellas. I travel frequently, though not well. Still, only about half of them needed to be replaced due to misplacement on my part- the others simply ceased to function as intended for one reason or another, usually resulting in a fight with an unwieldy collection of broken sharp metal bits tied to a piece of cloth that, rather than stopping rain, was now pretending to be a very functional sail.

I’ve come to think of umbrellas as single-use items. I shudder at the thought of a single-use cane. Considering the potential consequences of structural failure, I’d much rather have something sturdy and durable, thank you very much, even if it may be somewhat more painful.

Then we consider the whole supply and demand issue. There is no shortage of demand for umbrellas, particularly in this rather damp corner of the world. Demand for canes, however, is another story. Does a sub ever have a demand for a cane? Perhaps occasionally, during brief fits of insanity that could be easily cured by the application of the aforementioned implement, though I doubt it happens often. And that’s just among those enlightened enough to admit those demands.

Perhaps it boils down to a problem of awareness or advertising, which I see it as our sacred duty to rectify in our own small way. So when you read, write, comment, you’re not just doing it for the sake of titillation or deeper personal understanding, or social networking. It’s global economics we’re talking about here, and we all need to do our part to recover from the recession.

*I should point out, lest I mislead the masses and send us all into financial crisis, that I am miserable at economics. I made ink blots in my final exam as I couldn’t even figure out what part of each paragraph in the exam book was actually the question.

3 thoughts on “Canes, Umbrellas, and Economics

  1. Seems to me that a combination of items is what is needed. The umbrella could be a sheath for a cane. The cane, unable to withstand the wind without bowing would be safely ensconced in the shaft of the umbrella. This would also facilitate having it at hand without causing undue alarm.

    Then when called for, the cane would be drawn forth and put to its natural use without undue fuss locating it.

    1. I like the way you think-preventing water damage and all. Plus, should it begin to rain, a true gentleman would offer the umbrella to his lady. If she should lose the thing in a sudden gust of wind, one could hardly blame her.

      1. I can see her now, the dome of the umbrella swirling down the street. Her face goes from shock to horror, standing on the sidewalk with the cane now unleashed whistling in the wind.

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