Featured image by Taki Steve. Follow the link for more of this artist’s work.
Inflation is here folks. In many insidious forms, the glut of money dumped carelessly into the economy by a government that believes in printing and spending its way into prosperity is beginning to reap the consequences of its lack of impulse control.
I began seeing articles and news stories on TV about “shrinkflation,” a tricky version of reactions by businesses to delay raising prices for products. This was a phenomenon that I had remembered from my childhood, hearing similar stories in the nineties about companies shrinking the size of their products to prevent them from raising prices, and how parents or shoppers should be aware of the new sizes for products when they do their shopping.
NPR, Bloomberg, CBS, and many other outlets report on how retailers are shrinking packaging sizes, while CNBC, CNN, and The Wall Street Journal report that inflation is at a 13 year high. But don’t worry folks. The cost of a fourth of July BBQ was $0.16 cheaper than last year… (insert cricket noises here).
I don’t know about you, but I’m strapped right now. I am paying off my debts as quickly as I can, but am still five years out from being debt free, realistically. I’ve got rent to pay, groceries to buy, and the occasional plumbing emergency. I’m not in the best position to absorb another five plus percent in cost increase, if I want to stay on top of my financial goals, and even then it looks dicey. But looking at the way things are going, I don’t know if we’re going to catch this inflation spike before it gets away from us. The federal government is notoriously slow when it comes to recognizing patterns, and it is chock full of people who wish to use this new crisis for political gain.
Combine this with a sluggish job market, enhanced unemployment benefits (a backdoor to UBI), rising fuel costs thanks to the Biden Administration’s desire to axe the Keystone XL Pipeline (which we’re now being sued for btw…), and the ever-present scare of COVID and all its variants, stagflation, hyperinflation, regular inflation, and shrinkflation are all equally real possibilities and realities. But the sad part is that this is an unintended consequence of voting in a guy who is promising all things to all people. During the campaign, he gave confusing messaging to people about fracking… and subsequently killed the Keystone XL pipeline. This, of course, was an appeasement to the environmental lobby that had been part of his voting coalition. Don’t mind the effects it has on prices at the pump, and how that adversely affects the poor, or how we’ll have to focus more on imports from Europe, South America, or Mexico (ring of fire anyone?), or how that will impact the cost of additional things made from petroleum.
Inflation is a tax against everyone, rich or poor, but it is a regressive tax. The more things like food and gas prices continue to spike, the worse off families will be. More people will have to take on credit card debt just to make ends meet. People will have to work longer hours or get a second job. Or, more insidiously, people will become more dependent on government programs, making it easier for those in power to cement themselves into their positions and pacify the population with fears that if they oust them, then they lose their benefits. Welfare is a trap, a vicious cycle that, while nobly intended, is used to institutionalize people into a cycle of dependency that is harder to break than many substances.
I hope that things will recover, and I will look like Chicken Little, claiming that the sky is falling. I honestly hope that I am. I will be the first to say that I’m happy to be wrong, but something feels different about this. Some lurking source of dread that I can’t quite put my finger on. And I worry that what happened in Post WWI Germany, or, more currently, Venezuela, will find its way here. Food shortages are a thing folks, and I don’t know about you, but my local grocery stores are looking more and more picked through as of late. It could just be that they have nobody working, but it’s become very routine to have to make substitutions for things I can’t find, and the answer of “that’s on backorder,” is becoming the go-to more often than I’m used to hearing.
Best of luck to you all, we’re going to need it.