Charlotte, NC — Anyone ever heard of Erin Brockovich?
Wikipedia: Erin Brockovich (born Pattee; June 22, 1960) is an American legal clerk, consumer advocate, and environmental activist, who, despite her lack of education in the law, was instrumental in building a case against the Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) of California with the help of attorney Ed Masry in 1993.
For those of those not in the know, she attacked PG&E for trashing the drinking water with hexavalent chromium (also written as “chromium VI,” “Cr-VI” or “Cr-6”) in the town of Hinkley, near Barstow in Southern California.
What I want you to pay attention to is this: Part of the condemnation against PG&E was the fact that they distributed brochures telling the townsfolk that “Chromium was an important part of their bodies’ chemistry, and therefore was a healthy substance.” They omitted the part where hexavalent forms of chromium have been linked to all sorts of physical problems in very low quantities. (Admittedly there is still some debate over whether the cancel rate in Hinkly (abandoned) is out of line with other areas, where Chromium 6 has been found in all 50 states.)
My point is this: the people that were poisoning everything are the same ones insisting that everything was okay.
Where have we seen this before? Oh, yes: in the constant bleating and rhetoric coming from Washington concerning all of these new taxes and regulations that “will only affect the rich, only make the rich pay “Their Fair Share™”.
The mainstream media has been publishing some telling headlines recently.
From CNBC’s Twitter Account: “Inflation’s Silver Lining: Higher Salaries”
From Bloomberg: “America Needs Higher, Longer Lasting Inflation”
From Washington Examiner by way of Yahoo News: “White House thinks inflation and supply-chain woes are ‘high class problems’”
From the Wisconsin Examiner: “Inflation boogeyman scares only the extremely wealthy”
Even as we collectively mock the communist and the socialists for being slaves to brainwashing and propaganda, there are people who believe these things simply because theory cannot fathom that our own people would directly lie to us.
Which is what is most concerning.
Any person who understands what inflation is and how it affects the economy would know better than to say such things.
Here is the working definition of inflation per Investopedia:
Inflation is the decline of purchasing power of a given currency over time. A quantitative estimate of the rate at which the decline in purchasing power occurs can be reflected in the increase of an average price level of a basket of selected goods and services in an economy over some period of time. The rise in the general level of prices, often expressed as a percentage, means that a unit of currency effectively buys less than it did in prior periods.
Several factors can contribute to what a unit of currency can buy today, but inflation in particular stems from the printing of money (Quantitative Easing: therenow, the official terms makes it sound like it has been vetted and well thought out) as opposed to wealth being created as a result of productivity.
In the US, quantitative easing coupled with zero and negative interest rates devalued the US dollar, and does so to this day. Much like an abused line of credit, you’re creating purchasing power that hasn’t yet been earned. And if it DOESN’T get earned, then the music will stop.
Spoiler Alert: and there won’t be enough chairs.
Since most countries issue debt against their own treasury bonds, the largest holder of US debt is the US taxpayer.
Surprise! Our “National Debt™” is primarily owed to US! (See Above: Not Enough Chairs)
Let’s examine each point in detail.
For a number of reasons, wages are up quite a bit, but the biggest reason is the labor shortage. Regardless of the reason, these increases aren’t enough to offset inflation. October CPI came in at a whopping 6.2%, while hourly earnings are up 4.9%, and employment cost index up 3.7%.
These are just general overall national statistics. If you break them down by sector, the picture becomes much worse. Energy is up over 25%, while food and household operations are each up around 6% each. If you need a vehicle to get to work or for work, that is up about 17%.
Calculate how much of the monthly budget each of the inflationary effects consumes, and you have the real effect of inflation on that house.
The most disingenuous part of the whole presentation is the pundits who claim higher wages are great, but totally ignore inflationary adjustment:
Although the Biden administration is eager to discuss nominal wage growth, it has been mute regarding real, inflation-adjusted worker income. The reason for that is simple. When adjusting for inflation, real average hourly earnings were down 1.2% YoY in October and have been negative for seven consecutive months.
Higher, Longer Lasting Inflation
Holy cow. Where to begin?
In order to understand inflation, it’s important to differentiate it from its symptoms. Coughing could indicate you have a cold. It could also mean your throat is dry. You can’t diagnose one or the other by having a cough. (although if I cough in public these days I am likely to get pepper sprayed with hand sanitizer …)
Inflation is a symptom, though not necessarily a cause, of cost increases. One example would be when the price of bottled water increases following a natural disaster. This is not an example of inflation. Although the value of the dollar remained the same, bottled water increased in value.
Water costs going up in that situation are indeed temporary. The supply chain issues are also temporary. However, there is no way to explain away all of it. In fact, if it wasn’t permanent, why are the tax brackets being shifted higher by the IRS in 2022? That’s not the behavior of an administration that thinks this is fleeting “inflation.”
Secondly, the essence of the argument presented in that article in Bloomberg is that the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates and employers would raise wages commensurate with 4% inflation. That’s a generous assumption for the purposes of selling inflation, but nowhere is it mentioned that it’s implicit in higher inflation.
Historically, wages have not kept pace with inflation. Because the dollar’s purchasing power determines inflation, not the supply chain. Inflation reporting does not work or serve any purpose when everything is “evenly” inflated at 2% or 4%. And fuel and food are both typically excluded from calculations
Luckily for all of us plebs, this is a “Rich People Problem™”, right? Inflation only affects stocks and investments for the silver-spoon crowd.
Unfortunately, on a dollar-for-dollar basis, there’s literally no way this disproportionately negatively affects (only) the wealthy.
Put into real terms from an article at Zerohedge:
Spending on gasoline and food makes up ~28% of consumer expenditures for the lowest income versus ~19% for the highest income.
This brings us to the worst news for the Democrats: the combined 9.7% year-to-date gain in inflation in food and energy (noncore) has a bigger hit on the lower-income consumer and their ability to substitute away is limited given that these are necessary items.
This isn’t “rich people problems.” This is an “everyone” problem. Those on fixed incomes are even more affected than the working poor. They do not receive cost-of-living increases to their annuities. Or even with their Social Security payments, truth be told.
Generally, most people understand that inflation’s effects are more like ripples than drops. That is to say, different people will experience it differently over time. Whether a price going up, or a serving size going down (I am still railing over the fact that Gatorade has shrunk to a 28 oz bottle) I didn’t realize this had a name. It’s called the Cantillon Effect:
[T]he first sectors to receive the newly created money enjoy higher profits as their pay increases, but generally costs are still low. On the other hand, the last sectors in which prices rise (where there is more economic friction) face higher costs while still producing at lower prices.
The result is that investors are disproportionately favored over wage earners in the US. And I don’t mean home office investors or day traders. The injection of money will benefit large corporations, heavily subsidized industries, and even people who have a substantial amount of savings invested in the stock market.
Not so much for those living paycheck-to-paycheck. The “stimulus checks” were a terrible idea for this reason. For the poor and working classes, it was a short-term fix with long-term consequences.
Those who make more money in the US are taxed more under a “progressive tax” system. The opposite of that is a regressive tax, which imposes more on people who earn less. Inflation is the systematic theft of value or purchasing power from the poor, and giving it to the rich.
All of us will be affected in one way or another by inflation at some point. I saw someone say: We aren’t all in the same boat. We are in the same ocean in different boats, so the tides will affect each of us differently.
Wonderful. Regardless of our boat, it is sinking. Lookup how many lifeboats on the Titanic were successfully employed to give you a clear-cut understanding of what is about to happen to us.
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