Rock Waterman

If you are the member of your family doing the grocery shopping, you’re certainly aware that food prices are rising every month, and fast.  You also may be wondering “why isn’t this news?”

Indeed, if you hear anything at all in the media about inflation, you’re told that inflation is stable at a manageable 1 to 3% over last year, nothing to really worry about. Go back to sleep.

But if you spend any time at all at the grocery store, you know that can’t be true.   You know you’re paying way more than three percent more for groceries; more like six times three percent.  And often not over last year; over last month.

I see the prices of things I buy regularly rising every month, and those differences are sure more than one to three percent.  When an item I just bought last month for $2.50 is now on sale for three dollars at the same store, and I also see that I’m paying a similar increase for almost everything else in the store, I know someone isn’t being honest with me.  One to three percent, my eye.

They’re Fudging The Numbers

The way the government assesses price inflation is through a formula they call the Consumer Price Index.  The idea behind this is that they make a list of the price of everything people normally buy and average out how much all that stuff has risen in price since the year before.

But there’s a cheat, and it’s a big one.  Shortly after President Nixon’s administration detached the dollar completely from gold backing, inflation was almost immediate.  The CPI was created to measure price increases, but here’s the catch:  It was decided that food and fuel shouldn’t be included in those totals, under the excuse that food and fuel prices are “too volatile” and might skew the results.

Too volatile is right.  Food and fuel just happen to be the two categories most necessary to survival.  Food and fuel are also the things people spend their money on most consistently.  If people were truly informed about how fast those items were rising, and actually saw the numbers displayed on the evening news, they’d be up in arms.

A citizenry up in arms is the last thing any government wants, so the populace is given numbers that don’t matter, based on the slightly rising price of toys and sporting goods and gewgaws imported from China.  Almost everything other than the stuff everyone has to have to survive.  Food and fuel usually can’t be manufactured in an overseas sweatshop, so they naturally cost more.

Of course, the tragic joke here is that if you’re interested in seeing the numbers that track price inflation, it is precisely the cost of food you are interested in.  What you want to know is how much more is it costing me to eat?  And how much more is it costing me for the fuel to get to my job so that I can pay for the food I need to eat?

The CPI figures remain artificially low because the establishment hopes you will believe their figures rather than your own eyes and your own experience in the checkout line, and buy their assurances that things can’t possibly be as bad as they seem.

This deception can’t last for long, though.  Eventually everyone will notice what is in front of their faces.  Those who have stored some food ahead of time when they could have gotten it cheaper will be that much more ahead.

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