What Measure of Inflation – Stealth Increases
Deciding on whether or not we’re in a recession has almost become a national pastime, but more confusing to me are the proclamations that inflation is low. As a conspicuous consumer, I beg to differ, and that so many people are willing to overlook the detrimental changes going on right under our noses is flabbergasting. See it how you will – we’re in a recession and inflation is very, very high.
First, I’m not an economist. I’m not a CFO, government expert, or someone with extremely in depth knowledge of finance, inflation, or recessions. I am, however, a shopper, and what I’ve seen in recent months is disconcerting:
- pasta – used to be packaged as a pound (16 ounces); now 13.5 ounces
- orange juice – used to be packaged as 64 ounces; now 60 ounces
The same number of people are out of work – most are even making the same (or less) than they were ten years ago (relative to today’s dollar) and for those that are able to travel the dollar is so devalued that it takes $1.45 to buy even a single Euro.
- canned corn – used to be 16 ounces; now often less than 14 ounces
- sugar – used to be 5 pounds to the package; now 4 pounds in each package
In most cases – take corn for example – the size of the can really isn’t any smaller. It’s just more loosely packed with corn and the heavy water has increased the weight. The pasta is often only recognizable when the bowl gets around to the fifth person at your table and there’s not enough left for a full serving. Things are just plain getting smaller.
My mother in law cans fruits in the fall and with the change in each bag of sugar she’s basically paying 20% more for each cup of sugar – and who would notice 20% in the change from 5 pounds to 4? Not her and until now not me. I do, however, notice the 20% increase. (Funny thing, he Social Security didn’t go up at the same time.)
Sure, these are big examples, but I don’t think anyone can argue that a $100 trip to the grocery or a $300 trip to the local big box store is now the norm. Costco used to be relatively cheap – and they still are – but even their sizes have changed to match rising food costs. It’s just, like stores everywhere, rather than change the price (raise it), they’ve decreased the quantity or quality to make it appear as though things really aren’t changing all that much. I beg to differ.
Many companies are painting a fake silver lining for you, committing to “less packaging” to protect the environment or perhaps a convenient “portable” version of foods to allow you to snack on the go while you work to earn enough to buy the foods that used to be staples. Others are eliminating the “20% more than before” that they used to include on their super-sized packaging. Which, of course, will be the next big thing – as companies realize that the economy is coming back or perhaps prices for materials are dropping the manufacturers will resort to once again “super sizing” or offering 20% more than they did before. The result leaving you back where you were ten years ago.