I Will Kill The Economy
Was reading yesterday that wholesale food prices rose 3.9% last month, the biggest jump since early 1974. 70% of that increase was in fresh vegetables (ironically, the best thing you can eat is also nearly the most expensive), but meat, eggs and dairy also took a hit…largely because of the rising prices of corn and soy that are used to (unnaturally) feed these animals. You can read the news article here, but what it comes down to is a pretty big jump in stuff we all pretty much need.
(Incidentally, why do we always talk about two levels of inflation, one that includes energy and food and one that does not? Those two - energy and food - are always referred to as "highly volatile" or something like that…as if their volatility and unpredictability somehow make them other than #1 and #2 on anyone's "This Is Where My Money Goes" list. It takes a certain amount of ballsy sleight-of-economic-hand to suggest that "Inflation is tame! Uh…except for gas and food. Ahem. Those went through the roof.")
I also heard - this, last month - that the price of clothing is going to skyrocket this year because of rising cotton prices and other associated costs. I gotta say, Chairman Bernanke suggesting that inflation isn't a problem is kind of like his claim that the recession ended 18 months ago. This may look good on paper, but to the average Joe on the ground, shit is still really fucked up, with no apparent end in sight.
And, I'm not gonna be any help, because I intend to kill the economy. Not single-handed, of course. But, as one guy, who is already probably joining a throng of other people, and who will probably be followed by others…I'm gonna do my part. I'm not going to have companies "pass on costs" to me anymore. I simply will not be a hapless consumer, blindly swiping my credit card without ever questioning that there might be another way. There is. Here's how it works:
1) Clothing prices going up? Not for me. I'm buying my garments from Goodwill, St. Vincent's, and eBay. We recently went shopping at Goodwill, and got 4 dresses for Roz (she's in her "princess dress" phase, and you may shoot me now) for a grand total of…$4. I bought 5 shirts, for $3.69 apiece. One was a go-camping denim shirt, one was a groovy go-clubbing shirt (which is hilarious, because I never ever go "clubbing," but still, it's a cool shirt), and three were dress shirts. All looking brand new, with no stains, missing buttons, etc. etc. etc. Why would I pay more for stuff - and contribute to more waste on the planet - when I can buy perfectly good used clothing? Doesn't offend me none! I got a great Territory Ahead shirt from eBay: $4.99, plus shipping. I love their stuff, but even the "on-sale" shit goes for, like, $50 a shirt. I repeat: $4.99, and all I had to do was wash out some other guy's panther-piss cologne smell. Not…a problem.
2) Food prices going up? Well, we do like to eat well here, but if veggies are going up, I'm planting my own. We already have a dedicated gardening spot, and I just lay claim to my mom's canning stuff. And, that's it. I'm gonna grow veggies, and freeze & can them. I'll go to the farmer's market when stuff is actually in-season, and I'll can it, and I'll have it fresh for the winter. No worries about corn prices going up for us, because we get our eggs locally for $2 a dozen, and that's dropped off at the front door. I asked our supplier about the bright orange hue of the yolks, and she said "Oh, yeah…that's 'cause the hens wander around the yard and eat lots of bugs & stuff." In other words: a natural hen's diet. Gee…organic, free-range eggs from hens that wander around the yard without needing their beaks snipped off. That's pretty good.
3) According to the article, "Sharper prices for basic necessities are limiting consumers' ability to spend on more discretionary goods." No shit, Sherlock. What the article distinctly does NOT mention is that for many of us, those same sharp prices are creating the dreaded New Normal. I'm going to have a hard time thinking about spending a bunch more for shirts, now that I've gotten used to $3 - $4 apiece. I can weather A LOT of inflation with that as a starting point. Once I get used to the flavor of my own fresh food, I'll probably wonder why I ever bought shitty greenhouse asparagus from Meijer in January. Sure, I'll still splurge for oranges - no scurvy for me, thanks! - but I'll get my apples from the local orchard, and make my own applesauce. And apple butter. You get the idea.
The Fed is practically shitting itself, worrying that the House of Cards that is the Gross Domestic Product - of which consumer spending is typically thrown around as being 70% of the total, although that's debatable - will once again come tumbling down if people don't get out there and SPEND, MOTHERFUCKERS! Thanks, but no thanks. I think I'll save…and have more money to spend on the discretionary items of my own choosing: like, used records from the local vinyl shop.