Everyone is very, very worried about inflation these days, but some are taking it a bit too far. An article published in Market Watch this week is receiving a fair bit of attention today for claiming that inflation is causing "average Americans" to spend $5 a gallon on gas, $100-$200 on concert tickets and $90 on bottles of wine — largely because absolutely no one who could be considered an "average American" is doing that.
I highly recommend checking out the comments on the extremely ratioed tweet for the article.
Average Americans are paying as much as $100 to $200 for a single concert ticket, $90 for a bottle of wine, and $5 a gallon for gas.https://on.mktw.net/32cAL7j— MarketWatch (@MarketWatch) 1637417882
Via Market Watch:
Escalating inflation, along with a growing belief among consumers that effective policies are not being developed to combat it, was identified as a big factor behind the drop in the University of Michigan's sentiment report. The average American hasn't had to worry about high inflation for decades, and many traders weren't alive during the 1970s era of stagflation. As a result, a large number of people have been caught off guard by the strength of recent price rises.
Investors like Jay Hatfield of Infrastructure Capital Advisors, along with Stifel Chief Economist Lindsey Piegza, say the Fed has "lost control" of inflation. Big-name firms like bond giant PIMCO are warning that the headline CPI rate is likely reaching 7% over the next several months. And average Americans are paying as much as $100 to $200 for a single concert ticket, $90 for a bottle of wine, and $5 a gallon for gas while the Federal Reserve is sticking to its view in its Nov. 3 policy statement that inflation pressures are expected to prove transitory.
First of all, gas where I am at right now, in Rochester, NY, is around $3.50 a gallon, probably less. Hawaii, which has the highest gas prices in the nation for obvious reasons, is at $4.30 a gallon.
Second. I literally do not know who is spending $100-$200 on concert tickets. Obviously prices have been going up over the years, due to Ticketmaster bullshit (everyone should have listened to Eddie Vedder and boycotted!) and the fact that no one buys music anymore, at least not like they used to. Additionally, there is still a pandemic and many places have opted to sell fewer tickets but raise the price of those tickets. That being said, if you're not seeing some megastar and standing in the front row, you can still get tickets for under $40.
Third — who the hell is paying $90 for a bottle of wine? Not me! Not anyone I know. Not too many people shopping at the wine store I go to, where the bottles of wine that cost that much are usually off in their own special section for wines that are super expensive. Any "average American" regularly paying $90 for wine is a sucker. You can get a whole box of Barefoot for $17.99, which is what I do. It's fine. In fact I am considering grabbing a glass right now.
That being said, the purpose of inflation scare articles like these seem a little like they might be about priming the country for a backlash against workers who are organizing, unionizing and demanding a fair wage, as well as against the kind of social programs Democrats (some of them anyway) are fighting for.
The fact is, we are in a really screwed up situation, and it is very much due to wealth inequality. I'm not even talking about this from a human rights position. While I do believe that every human being is entitled (yes, entitled) to food, shelter, health care, education a job that pays a living wage and the occasional niceties, this isn't about that. The fact is, this set-up is and has been extremely unsustainable for a very long time now (from both a labor and environmental perspective) and it was never going to last forever.
There are a lot of areas in which we have kept prices artificially low by screwing over workers in nearly all segments of the supply chain. Clothes, I know for sure, absolutely should not be as cheap as they are and could not possibly be as cheap as they are if every worker in the supply chain was paid fairly for their labor. There is a reason why people in the past didn't have the massive wardrobes so many of us have now. "Fast fashion" wasn't a thing. People who made and sold clothes were paid more fairly (thanks, International Ladies Garment Workers Union!), so clothes cost more and people bought fewer things (or sewed their own). But we almost have to have fast fashion because so many people in this country are not making enough to buy clothes for what they should cost. It's a self-perpetuating cycle.
Food at restaurants is less expensive than it should be, in part because owners basically don't have to pay for labor. Food in general is less expensive than it should be because farm workers are routinely underpaid and some industries even use child slave labor. Other things are less expensive because the people selling them are making very little money, and the minimum wage decreases in value every year.
I mean, I'm sorry, but people making millions off of American workers making $7.25 an hour to sell three dollar t-shirts and $15 jeans at Forever 21, manufactured for pennies on the dollar by people in developing nations is the kind of thing that catches up to you eventually. Nothing fake gold can stay.
We now have a situation in which American workers are starting to say "Hey, we think it would be nice if we got paid enough to survive, and we're not going to work for you unless you can make that happen." This does probably mean that prices are going to go up. It probably does mean that we're not going to be able to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe at the mall for $100 and that it will cost more to eat out. But you know what? It's actually better we start adjusting for this now than to hit rock bottom and be completely screwed. It also means that we will be headed towards a more balanced and sustainable economic future.
And you know what? It's not "inflation" to pay the actual cost of things.
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