Two things triggered this post.
First, we keep hearing about inflation. So yesterday, when we went to Fred Meyer (a Kroger store) to grocery shop on Senior Discount Day, we paid attention to the prices of things we usually buy more than usual. They are mostly about the same as they were last year and many the same as the year before (my husband is kind of anal about keeping records). We don’t drive much so gas prices don’t figure into our calculations much. The only empty shelves we’ve seen were a couple of weeks ago during a really good sale on Progresso soup.
Second, a couple of days ago, my husband read me a bit of a newspaper article that said that “red” states (I really don’t like this notation, I’d prefer to use rural dominated or something less us/them) are experiencing higher inflation. The inflation rate is greater than wage increases, so that doesn’t explain it.
What does explain it? Those areas tend to be information silos, places where the “news” is dominated by two, extremely biased, corporations: Fox and Sinclair.
So what’s going on?
Fox has been caught using false images reporting empty shelves. They even used misleading footage in their “apology”. The corrections aren’t actually reaching the people who were misled in the first place. Sinclair is also banging away on this narrative (my dad watches it and I spent a few days over there when he was ill–my head is still aching).
Here’s the thing: while there are some real inflationary pressures, a significant part of inflation is psychological. If you go to the store expecting to pay more, then the store will happily raise prices to satisfy your expectations. I really think that one should question the (boy, do I hate this word) narrative being pumped out by these people…and the mainstream media follows along like little sheep. Even the “late night” comedy crew is leaning into this story.
Gas prices are high-ish, not the highest they have ever been even (I paid more than this a decade or so ago), though they are getting close. Again, the oil and gas industry has a lot to gain by making you believe that prices are going up. You go to the pump expecting to spend a bunch and they are happy to take it. The industry is milking us for what they can get, and it’s worth a bundle to them.
There is no practical reason why prices should be higher in “red” states than they are in “blue” ones. It’s just that people are being bombarded with melodramatic, and inaccurate, stories of how bad things are. They are being played by people with financial, and political interest in them being poor and unhappy.
What to do
Don’t play ball.
Turn off the “news”, and other program that yaks about this blarney, so that ratings drop and they need to move on.
Also, only buy things that you think are worth the price (you should always be doing this, it’s how the market is supposed to work). Yes, if wages go up significantly, there will be some inflation, but, in the short term, it will soon be offset as the oil and gas industry gets back up to more normal production levels. In the longer term, moving to electrical vehicles will reduce demand and bring down prices.