The numbers just don’t add up
By Stephan Drew, Editor
Have you been thinking about the cost of everything today? How do you feel about it? I can honestly tell you I’m quite disturbed. In the past 4 years, we’ve seen prices rise far beyond what any of us expected or felt we could afford. Our federal government, which, I’m sure we all trust to be honest and accurate, has told us that our inflation rate (due to many factors, including the COVID pandemic) has risen somewhere between 10% and 15% over the past 3 or 4 years.
Now, many of us have faith in our federal government. But, I also believe in former Pres. Ronald Reagan’s slogan, “Trust…but, verify”. So, I did a little research. And, I was shocked at what I discovered. I want you to remember that the figures I’m about to quote to you are national averages, not necessarily what’s happening locally, in our own dear city or state.
According to the federal government’s numbers, the price of poultry has risen 10%, which means that a pound of chicken, which (according to national averages) was $2.89 per pound in 2019 should only be $3.18 per pound now. Well, on average, it’s $3.73 per pound now. That’s an increase of 29.1%, not 10%. The price of beef, which was $5.63 per pound in 2019, is now $6.89 per pound, an increase of 22.3%, not 10-15%. The price of pork, which was $5.89 per pound in 2019, is now on average, at $7.63, an increase of 29.5%.
Average gas prices, which were about $2.00 a gallon in 2019, are now $3.49, an increase of 75%. But, it’s come down from a high of $4.25 a gallon in 2021 and early 2022. An increase from $2.00 to $4.25 is a 112.5% increase. So, at least, on gas, we’ve gone from a 112.5% increase to ONLY a 75% increase now. I guess that’s some progress.
The average price of lumber in 2019 was around $3.35 per linear board foot. Now, it is $5.59, an increase of 67%. A bag of those nice round corn chips (I won’t name the brand but, they’re the ones that hold a lot of salsa and crunch so well) was $2.49 in 2019. Now, they’re $4.99, a 100% increase. The jar of cheese dip for them, which was $2.29 in 2019, is now $4.89, a 113.5% increase. To have chips and dip in 2019, you paid about $5.00. Now, you pay around $10.00. That’s not a 10-15% rise. That’s a 100% increase.
I was in one of our wonderful grocery stores here in the Pee Dee. We have several and, I love them. They provide us with the delicious food we feed our families. I won’t say which one but, it wasn’t too close by. I was shopping for chicken wings. Yes, I’m one of the many people who really LOVES good chicken wings. I like to season them with hot sauce and spices, and really enjoy them, I do. But, I was shocked when I picked up a pack of 3 chicken wing pieces. I want you to understand, this was not a pack of 3 whole chicken WINGS. It was 3 wing PIECES (2 flats and one drumette). They had sauce and seasoning on them, which I though was so nice of someone to do. But, the price (for these 3 wing PIECES) was $5.19! This was not even ONE pound of chicken. I was shocked & I really couldn’t believe it for a few seconds! Needless to say, I didn’t get them.
My point is, our federal government has spent the last 2 years telling us that inflation isn’t really that bad. But, when I look at the prices, I beg to differ. They say it’s only gone up between 10% and 15% but, the numbers just don’t add up. You can’t tell me a bag of chips which was $2.49 in 2019 is now $4.99 and that’s ONLY 15%!? I’m sorry but, you see, I went to school. While I was there, I studied and learned alot. One of the things I learned was how to do math. And, the numbers just don’t jibe.
Now, some will say that we’re just “not looking at it the right way”. They might say that we’re not taking all the other elements which factor into the inflationary equation into account. But, there’s an old saying. “Please don’t pee on my shoes and try to tell me that it’s RAIN!” I’m not buying it. And, I don’t think you should believe it, either.
Strange as it seems, it’s possible that the government IS telling the truth. Perhaps the REAL cost of doing business HAS only gone up 10-15%. Sometimes, businesses get carried away and use a crisis to charge us more than they should. Sometimes, executives take advantage and raise their prices, not 10-15% more but 50-100% more. That happens sometimes when people get greedy. There’s another saying, “Never miss the opportunity to take advantage of a crisis.” I think some of that might be happening now. Businesses charging 50-100% more, even though their costs have really only gone up 10-15%. I understand business.
Whatever the case is, something is not making sense. The government, and the news media, is telling us one thing. But, take a trip to the grocery store, the gas station, the mall, or the hardware store. You’ll see the picture we see is not the one they’re painting for us. Someone (and, I’m not sure who) is LYING to us. It just doesn’t add up. Please think about it the next time you hear one thing on the news and see something totally different when you pay your bill. The truth will come out. Unfortunately, just like it always happens when the dust finally clears, you and I will be the ones with the dry throat, holding the empty bag.