our flourishing economy

Cost of Living Soars As Income, Assets & Government Services All Decline

Mmm, salty tears ....Despite consistent claims of low inflation during this endless Great Recession, Americans are paying dramatically more for gasoline, electricity, heat and food — everybody notices the $4 gas, but the jump in food prices to a 36-year record is harder to see because it’s spread out across your grocery bills. And now the official inflation rate is rising, up half a percent for January and .06% in February, just as millions of American households are running out of emergency unemployment benefits and many millions more are surviving on stagnant or part-time wages. With federal, state and local governments slashing services at a furious clip while taxes most harmful to the poorest people are shooting higher — check out what you’re paying in sales tax this year! — the basic cost of existing in this teetering country has gotten completely out of hand.

CNBC reports:

“As the cost of living increases, we are headed toward a bigger problem with the slowing of housing permits,” said JJ Kinahan, chief derivatives strategist at thinkorswim, a division of TD Ameritrade. “As the staples start to cost more, this could lead to a quick slowdown in the auto and technology sectors as an iPad is an easy thing to pass on if you are paying more for your gas and food and need to cut back somewhere.”

To be sure, it’s nearly impossible to get a perfect “cost of living” measure, and the BLS acknowledges this on their web site: “An unconditional cost-of-living index would go further, and take into account changes in non-market factors, such as the environment, crime, and education.” Still, states will be cutting back services drastically this year at the very same time they are raising taxes in order to close enormous budget deficits and avoid a muni-bond defaults crisis. So while it may be the missing link to a perfect cost of living measure, one can assume that Americans will be paying more for unquantifiable services such as police enforcement and education, but getting them at a lesser quality.

In other words, prices are just as high as they were during the bubble/boom times … and the bubble/boom times are gone forever. [CNBC via Cryptogon]

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About the author

A writer and editor of this website from 2006 to early 2012, Ken Layne is occassionally seen on Twitter and writes small books and is already haunting you from beyond (your) grave.

View all articles by Ken Layne

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156 comments

    1. AngryBlakGuy

      …that "single" comment has caused no less than 4 spontaneous erections/ejaculations at the RNC!

    2. LesBontemps

      Don't forget repealing healthcare reform and banning ghey marriage. And, um, Planned Parenthood, NPR, ACORN, socializmz , also, too.

    3. Negropolis

      Yes, we need to get rid of these job-killing taxes…by continuing to pass on the cost of society to the poorest amongst us.

      You know, when you jump down the rabbit hole and through the looking glass, you do, in fact, reach a bottom. Jus' sayin', Republicans.

      Shit, meet fan. Fan, shit.

  1. Callyson

    Well, at least those of us living on the West Coast will die from radiation exposure soon anyway…

  2. freakishlywrong

    gasoline, electricity, heat and food. Who needs these things? Take that, elitist, greedy teachers.

    1. Swampgas_Man

      All I need's a song in my heart and a smile on my face. And a tax cut, always w/ the tax cuts.

    1. SorosBot

      It's just jealousy of the rich, who are naturally superior and whose feet we should be groveling for their allowing us to exist.

      1. Swampgas_Man

        Poors making demands IS classism; the rich getting whatever they want is the natural order.

    2. Graham Cracker

      …and because St. Ronnie of Hollywood said that it would all trickle back down, too. Also.

  3. AngryBlakGuy

    …so Japan has an earthquake followed by tsunami and capped off with a nuclear winter; and that caused the value of their currency to rise? I think I may have just solve our inflation problem!!!

      1. Negropolis

        Before they harvest the hobos, they get them into shelters to fatten them up a bit so that they can be well-marbled when led to the slaughter.

  4. Hera Sent Me

    Hey, speak for yourself. I live in Texas, where Rick Perry would rather go in public unarmed than raise taxes.

    We're going to keep taxes the same by using a tactic from the Vietnam War on our state government – destroy it in order to save it.

    It worked before.

  5. Barbara_i

    No snark intended. I went to the grocery store last week and a head of lettuce was $3.00 and so was celery. I spent the money I was going to spend on veggies and I bought seeds for tomatoes, peppers, peas, etc. and they are sprouting in my breakfast nook. I am NOT going to pay high prices for vegetables. I'd rather fire up the AeroGarden and get my hands dirty. Home Depot, Lowes and K-Mart have their veggie plants out and it's time to get planting.

    The local Sunflower farmer's market has decent prices, but one of their employees got caught serving a lady a yogurt sample that he jerked off into and the CEO was arrested for child prostitution.

    1. freakishlywrong

      Wait. What? (the fuck)? I loved your story until the end. (I bet they are both Retardlicans).

    2. LocalGirlMakesGoo

      Is there some link between organic foods and Bad Touch? One of the cashiers at my co-op got arrested for doing sexy-time with the Thai boy he "adopted."

        1. widestanceroman

          Tip: even if your nook (heh, heh) is sunny all day, a simple 2-tube shop light will usually give you sturdier, less leggy seedlings. A couple of cloudy days can make the seedlings stretch sadly for light.

          1. Barbara_i

            Thanks for the tip. Growing isn't always easy in the desert here. Cooking is another challenge at high altitude.
            I got the lemon tree to ward off scurvy.

          2. Lascauxcaveman

            Get a shovel and put some of that backyard to use. Or just import some topsoil. Know anyone with a pickup truck? Haul some 2x10s while you're on the way back dirt store (whomever sells sand/gravel/topsoil by the cubic yard) and make some raised beds. That's the easiest way to do it.

            Of course the hundred bucks you spend on all this could buy you a lot of veggies at the SuperMart.

    3. PsycWench

      Good for you! Be sure to buy some green beans. They're super easy to grow, very prolific and they taste wonderful when they're fresh.

        1. PsycWench

          Look for the French filet beans; they're the best and hard to find in stores.
          (hugs)

          Now, to keep this from turning into Good Housekeeping.com: Buttsecks.

          1. Jukesgrrl

            But please make it organic buttsecks.

            And wash your trucknutz every once in awhile, citizens!

        2. widestanceroman

          Try the purple "green" beans, too ('Royal Burgundy' I think). Very easy to spot at harvest, just as delish, although the color will fade to green if cooked.

          My apologies for gardening tips in the middle of an otherwise dismal post. Please resume all existential nausea at the sound of the tone.

          1. Barbara_i

            Thanks to both of you. (buttsecks) I can't wait to go to Lowe's tonight. Oh gosh, gotta get back on topic. Man, I have a coupon to the Antique Sexual Devices Emporium. Yeah, I am going to use me one of those.

    4. Steverino247

      The local Sunflower farmer's market has decent prices, but one of their employees got caught serving a lady a yogurt sample that he jerked off into and the CEO was arrested for child prostitution.

      In other words, just another day at the market…

  6. memzilla

    "Americans will be paying more for unquantifiable services…"

    Oh, I think we all know exactly who's getting "serviced."

    It is time to eat the rich, with some hobo beans and a nice Chianti.

    1. Jukesgrrl

      I'd like a large portion of Goldman Sachs vice president, please. Preferably a young one.

  7. RedneckMuslin

    CNBC reported this? Isn't that the station that has Larry Kudlow predictions? Isn't that the station that's always wrong on the economy? With that Kramer fella? This prediction must be wrong and everything will instead be roses! Yeah!

  8. nounverb911

    Time to "Eat the Rich"

    Well I woke up this morning
    On the wrong side of the bed
    And how I got to thinkin'
    About all those things you said
    About ordinary people
    And how they make you sick
    And if callin' names kicks back on you
    Then I hope this does the trick
    Cause I'm a sick of your complainin'
    About how many bills
    And I'm sick of all your bitchin'
    Bout your poodles and your pills
    And I just can't see no humour
    About your way of life
    And I think I can do more for you
    With this here fork and knife

    Chorus:
    Eat the Rich: there's only one thing they're good for
    Eat the Rich: take one bite now – come back for more
    Eat the Rich: I gotta get this off my chest
    Eat the Rich: take one bite now, spit out the rest

  9. Boredw/Gravitas

    And the repugs continue to focus on deficit-reducing and job-creating bills, such as IRS abortion auditing, NPR and Planned Parenthood defunding, and healthcare dismantling. Live up to those campaign promises, guys!

  10. hagajim

    The good news is that the Chateaubriand and caviar prices are stable so the kleptocrats can maintain their standard of living – on the rest of our backs.

  11. Weenus299

    When they came for the vegetables, I was OK with it because they are yucky so I said nothing. When they came for the iPads, I was OK with it because they are needless so I said nothing. When they came for the SUVs, I was OK with it because I drive a 15-year-old rattletrap Ranger so I said nothing. When they came for the pizza, I was OK with it because it's just bread and cheese so I said nothing.

    When they came for me, I was OK with it because I had nothing anyway, and fuck. The end.

  12. prommie

    And of course, food and gas prices are excluded from the calculation of the most widely used "inflation" index, because they are supposedly "volatile."

    Its amazing how this all works out. The poor, who spend almost all of their income on food and gas, suffer vastly more pain from these price increases, which barely register to the rich, yet the whole thing is hidden, excluded from the publicly reported "inflation rate" and therefore is not factored into COLAs and employees looking for raises and etc. and stuff. I make a pretty fair penny, myself, and fucking food is outrageous and skyrocketing. Hello, "Utility Grade" beef. You'll do, for stew. And that australian beef apparently made from starving pygmy cattle.

  13. Lascauxcaveman

    Despite all this, Americans will still manage to get fatter and fatter. And this, my friend, is what we mean by American Exceptionalism.

    YOU-ESS-AAY!!! YOU-ESS-AAY!!! YOU-ESS-AAY!!!

  14. harry_palmer

    When Obama got elected he could have been another Roosevelt. He seems to have decided he'd rather be another Hoover.

    1. HistoriCat

      I think he wants to be Ronald Fucking Reagan. Instead, he's headed to a strange mix of Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, with a dash of Bushness.

      1. KenLayIsAlive

        A dash of Bushness. Reminds me of the old truism: if you put a dash of wine in a barrel of shit, you have a barrel of shit, and if you put a dash of shit in a barrel of wine, you have a barrel of shit.

    2. Gorillionaire

      And our other choice was a man who wanted to be the elderly Tim Conway character from the Carol Burnett Show.

    1. Weenus299

      I had a brief one-sided explanation with a young democrat lawyer about this. It filled my heart with nothing when she said that old people just need to die and it takes care of itself.

      Actually, that's when the one-sided explanation kicked in. Shit. I don't know where that came from. I'm not even a fuggin' economist.

      1. calibrit

        That was a Democrat lawyer? When did our tent get that big? Can there come a point where we have to say, Sorry, you ain't a Democrat, you're just a big fat jerk?

      2. Lascauxcaveman

        Technically, she's right. But I think it would be a good to have a contingency "plan B," in case all the old people don't die in the expedient time frame.

        1. HistoriCat

          Soylent Green.
          A)The old people are dead
          B) You have a cheap foodstuff for people to eat
          C) Profit!

    2. Steverino247

      Before the R's eliminate SS, they need to consider how many vets with PTSD (many with skills in handling weapons and explosives) are dependent on SS benefits due to their service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Big mistake to piss those guys off and they're already seriously disturbed. (Which is just really, really sad.)

  15. PublicLuxury

    A loaf of bread for a day's wages. OMG it is the apocalypse. Or is it the Rapture? Or is it End Times? Well, whatever. OMG! Panic. Run into the street naked. Just do it (trademark Swoosh)

  16. Frost/Nixon/Robocop

    I'm confident this economic crisis will fade away when the Congressional Cafeteria's styrofoam cups arrive and NPR is driven from the airwaves.

  17. ttommyunger

    The fabled researchers at CNBC must be mistaken. There has been no COLA increase in my ginormous pension check lo these last two years, therefore there can not have been any increase in the cost of living, ergo, and some such, as if, also……

  18. nounverb911

    Poor House futures are on the rise!
    Franchise opportunities are available now. Call 1-800-KOCHBRO.

  19. comptoneffect

    Ken, I sense from what you wrote above that all this shitty economic news really bothers you. I recommend not reading the news for a day or two and instead, check out that Wonkette site because the people who comment there are fucking hilarious.

  20. Oblios_Cap

    I would pull myself up by my bootstraps, but I ate them. Tomorrow I'm going to make Rock Soup like the Chinese guy in "The Good Earth".

    But god blessed us and made this the Greatest County in the World! Just ask us.

  21. philpjfry

    I can see the future and we are all serfs. Working for the rich who pay starvation wages. At least they will encourage us to fuck so they can have more serfs. Welcome back to the dark ages. Maybe the plague will be next. But we are winning the future. Now I has a sad.

    1. Steverino247

      With major cutbacks in government services (such as public health nurses, etc.), expect public health problems to explode. Plague IS next.

    2. GOPCrusher

      And those of us that saw this coming back in 1982, long for the sweet peace that death will bring.

  22. SorosBot

    Hey, Boehner and the dipshit Governors are fulfilling their promise to finish Reagan's legacy in putting the final nail in the coffin of the American Dream.

  23. baconzgood

    I'm sure Boehner tax cuts will fix this. It IS called "voodoo economics" so it's like magic right?

  24. KeepFnThatChicken

    So it is okay to finally spend all my yuan-dollars on that bender I've so deftly avoided all these years?

  25. LabRodent

    Lets not even talk about the price of coke, weed, meth and heroin. Have i said to much…please dont judge

  26. Terry

    According to the GOP, this is fine and dandy. Higher profit margins for the rich and fewer services mean the same rich people have less taxes. It's a win-win situation. Unless you aren't rich.

  27. EatsBabyDingos

    The New Paradigm:

    Use Vaseline instead of jelly on your toast.
    Use Target ads for toilet paper.
    Crap on your neighbors yard (ok, that's just fun)
    Dry your dog's poop and burn it in your coffee can firepit.
    Eat raw garlic and kim chi; your personal funk will drown the need for deoderant/soap
    Eat dandelions, chickweed, bracken ferns, ramps, and cardboard.
    Fart in a mud puddle for a bubble bath.
    Now that summer is coming, free "roadkill pizzas."
    Pick you own corn (out of rich people's poop).
    Rat fishing at your dumpster.
    Die at sea to save on burial costs.

  28. HistoriCat

    "so we've been selling every item for one dollar"

    Gah – how can the Free Market do its job with this, this … Socialism!

  29. hagajim

    Of course I'm fucking faking it…I'd be lucky to afford th Hobo soup…I didn't say I could afford the shit…just that Richie Rich and his douchey friends can.

  30. OneDollarJuana

    Alright, it's apropos of late-breaking news, it's time I resurrected my plan for our economic salvation.

    1) Convert the economy to cash. Every transaction is required by law to be conducted with legal tender.
    2) All nuclear waste is added to the ink and metal we use to print and mint our legal tender. The higher the denomination, the higher-level waste we put in it.
    3) Every person, then will have to make a decision: get richer and get more radiation exposure or stay poorer and less exposed?

  31. MiniMencken

    Food prices! My God! Try feeding six polo ponies and a Ukrainian nanny on a single trust fund!

  32. mumbly_[redacted]

    To be fair, at least our elected officials have decided to stop pretending that they care about the unemployed or unpaid slave-interns, or even about making more unemployed in-between hurting the poor in other ways, like defunding major health-care providers for the uninsured.

    Actually, I'm not sure how that makes anything better.

  33. ulTIMum

    Somebody calculate inflation for me. I paid $.29 for a gallon of petrol, and a quarter a loaf for Wonder bread, and I made $1.78 each and every hour down at the plant when I was young. I bought a brand new 1963 Plymouth Sport Fury for $2,800. My salary soon ballooned over two dollars, with the prices holding more or less steady .

    How're we doing?

    1. Oblios_Cap

      The arguement goes: if we raise wages, input prices go up and everything costs more , c.p. That is true, as stated. The key is that c.p.; ceteris paribus; all things remain the same. if one were to raise workers' wages and lower the Executive Managers' pay to a more reasonable level, then we could all make more and not worry about inflation.

      But it is pretty much trending in the opposite direction. Management makes much more, we make less, prices still go up.

      That, children, is the Miracle Of Capitalism.

    2. undeterredbyreality

      I would imagine that Sport Fury is worth quite a bundle by now. Mint condition, of course, right?

      1. ulTIMum

        Ah, yes, I remember the day. I was married with small children and settling into that pattern and – I sold the Golden Commando Sport Fury to a buddy. It was a most reluctant step which I have ever regretted. You know how Dave had to dump Frank because he needed the pod arms to open the pod bay door in 2001? Particularly poignant scene for me. Sent from my iPhone

    3. DahBoner

      Yup, $1.78 and hour in 1963d is $12.87 an hour in 2011.

      Unfortunately, the prices for gas, wheat (bread) are being manipulated on the derivatives market, no doubt, by the usual suspects (Goldman Sachs, Deuche Bank, Citibank, etc).

      As far as your car is concerned, $2800 in 1963 is $20,250.50 in 2011.

      Add on the price for the pollution equipment, fuel injection (higher mileage), safety (airbags & other improvements) and you might actually be paying LESS now or at least the same.

      There are no futures/derivatives on autos, so the prices can be manipulated.

      Conclusion:

      Prices are being manipulated now to fool people that there is inflation.

      There is deflation in housing prices, salaries, outsourcing, insourcing, and illegal immigrant labor.

      It's deflation in the number of jobs (and salaries) that we should be worried about, not "inflation" in commodities, whose prices can be manipulated.

  34. randcoolcatdaddy

    Damn … knew I should have bought stock in those companies selling whiskey, porn and guns….

    1. DahBoner

      Although this article mentions the weather-related causes behind food prices increases (drought in Russia, flooding in Australia, increased demand for corn for ethanol), they go on to talk about all the funds you can buy that deliver "future-based exposure", ie. derivatives/sheer "naked" speculation(you don't own or want to take delivery of the underlying commodity):

      Ag Price Speculation With ETFs, March 14, 2011
      about: CORN, COW, DBA, MOO http://seekingalpha.com/article/258183-ag-price-s

  35. MinAgain

    Oh, well. I needed to drop a few pounds, anyway.

    So, if I plant hobo soup next to the hobo beans in my garden, how often should I water them?

  36. DownFist Troll

    Undeniable proof that capitalism is totally flawless both on paper and in practice and is thus the bestest system evor devised.

    This truly is, the end of history. -Francis "Fuck you" Fukuyama.

  37. MiniMencken

    Do you take me for a Kazakh pastoral nomad? Or a Frenchman? Gentlemen never indulge in hippophagy. Now, as regards the Ukrainian nanny…

  38. GOPCrusher

    They've been too busy pointing out that you don't see any looting in Japan because they don't allow brown people there.

  39. pinkocommi

    When I think about how bad things are going to get in the future, the shitty-ness that exists today doesn't seem so bad.

  40. Walkinwiddaking

    All this negative Nancy talk. I just read an article that stated a 600,000 increase in the number of U.S. millionaires.

    "“The recovery is doing better in this population, probably better than for Main Street America,’’ said George Walper Jr., president of Spectrem."

    So, you know, it's not all bad

  41. NadePaulKuciGravMcKi

    the gov said no inflation so
    no COLA for social security

    Hyperinflation Federal Reserve

    Quite soon, the media and governments
    will be discredited in spectacular fashion

    1. ulTIMum

      They base SS COLA on stuff olds might buy. Have you, for instance, compared the sticker of a 2009 Lamborghini 2000XLZ with the same model for 2011?

      Same.

  42. lochnessmonster

    The problem is all the freaking speculation…stop screaming the sky is falling in the crowded theatre!

  43. Jukesgrrl

    You might be right but good luck selling that line at election time. The hordes in tattoos and tank-tops at my supermarket don't even know what Inflation is. They think he's a new character on Jersey Shore.

    1. Negropolis

      But, not in the way that you'd think.

      It's spring, and any fallen tree will provide a veritable smorgasbord of beetle grubs and termites.

      FTW

      May I add that you can also keenly follow squirrels to see where they bury their nuts, and then steal their food whilst they are out replenishing their stash?

      Be forewarned, my squirrel brethren: All your nutz are belong to us.

  44. GlowneyHouse

    I'm afraid I'm gonna have to cut back on my Afghan War. I sure enjoyed it, made me feel real powerful. But entertainment is the first thing to go when your belt-tightenin'.

  45. Negropolis

    I see why everyone was wanting us to go with whole, organic foods. We'll be going back to subsistence farming before you know it.

  46. RociStone

    and in spite of all this costing so much more, People on SSDI and SSA still get no COLA, thanks to the "magic" of government sponsored statistics. Is that Hobo Soup available by the case? Because if things carry on the way they are, the poorest Americans are going to need to get it by the case.

Comments are closed.