Friday, June 6, 2014

The Guru’s Comments On The Money Article By JaneofVirginia

The words below are part of three emails from the guru. They are used with his permission.

JaneOfVirginia has it right in your link.  As you know, we do not raise animals nor do we have the space to do so or even grow a garden.  It takes ten minutes to get the lawn mower prepped and out of the basement, five (if that) to mow, and three to get it back down the six steps into the basement ... so not enough area to grow much of anything except a few flowers.

But all the rest really does apply to us here, with, as you know, the exception of the stores being more or less filled — with more window shoppers than buyers — especially your Chinese Emporium.  And the various restaurants and fast food places are also seeing less and less revenues. So, in general, here in the Mid Ohio Valley, we do not overtly "see" much change — but it is still there if one looks.

The remainder, for me, is well described by JaneOfVirginia.  My pay has remained static for 12 years, taxes have risen, and the cost of everything has gone up in some cases to outlandish levels.  My wife’s take-home (salaried) has dropped because every time they give her a 2-3 percent raise, they increase the insurance (which we both need now that we are older) 8-10 percent.  Her take-home has fallen from over 550 to under 430 in less than five years and they are talking about either raising insurance deductions again, or dropping coverage entirely.  By the time expenses are included (car, gas, etc.), she is working for the insurance coverage alone.  Bummer,  but we NEED that coverage.

We both know that some items are impossible to come by (22LR for example) while other items have increased significantly; ground beef has doubled in a bit over a year as have jams and jellies, store brands have almost doubled in price, the staples like flour and potatoes have gone up significantly, etc.  The problem is the game they play to hide the gouging of the citizen: less product in the same size container so you are buying more air than something of substance.  Even the indents in the bottom of certain bottles have increased in size to hide the lower amount of liquid, and when you look at the square footage of toilet paper you see it routinely drops (don't look at the ridiculous sheet count) and is more loosely wound on the tube.
Surprisingly, this weekend we saw a few items where the price had lowered.  The higher prices the companies thought they could get backfired, and they had to drop their prices.  Of course, the companies will claim that it is a loss to their profits and therefore they will figure out a way to claim they are running in the red.

What I, and other city-dwellers, are doing is searching the Internet for better prices.  While it costs me $80 a year for "membership" in Amazon Prime, that means I pay NO SHIPPING (plus get tons of free movies to watch).  So the poor UPS man is burdened with bringing my toilet paper (save $8 on 36 rolls compared to the cheapest-in-the-area same brand at Sam’s), Ramen Noodles, Spam, infant formula, etc.  While not ideal, it at least saves an average of 15% over local and, yes, Amazon does charge WV sales tax. Shirts in my size, when available locally at K-Mart or your Chinese Emporium, are 25% higher than buying the same brands online in my size at any time the spirit moves me.  So the last round of shirts I got came by the UPS man.  Any more, I simply do not care where they are made, because all are made overseas anyway, and we have to save hard earned cash in some manner to make ends meet.

Today youth are being advised that buying a house is not a sound investment anymore, and most under-35s are renting.  Besides, they cannot afford that home that cost $50 thousand in 1990 since it now costs up to ten times that price, or more.  Even automobiles cost as much as a house used to just a few years ago.
In many ways I wish we were paid in credits instead of dollars so people could see what is happening—credits as in one-per-hour-worked.  If you take a job salary from, say, 1990 and figure out how many hours it took to pay for an automobile, versus today's salary for that same identical job with the identical tenure, you will find that many items require significantly more hours of work to pay off than just a few years ago.

For example in 1990, minimum wage was 3.80 and in 2013 it was 7.25.  But in 1990, gas averaged about $1.15 per gallon nationwide for the year and in 2013 it averaged a bit above 3.50.  You could get 3.3 gallons of gas in 1990 but only 2.1 gallons of gas in 2013 ... a third less gasoline for the same basic hours worked and pay.  Milk, bread, meat, etc. also show similar work-more-hours to buy the same item. Anyway, that’s my take on the subject.  And, yep, JaneOfVirginia is VERY correct.

Prices are either national averages or as close to “Newport” as I could find from 1990 to 2013
1990 versus 2013 average costs
Minimum wage did not quite double from 1990 at $3.80 to 2013 at $7.25
Bread                                70¢ vs $1.98           (up almost 3 times)
Campbell’s Tomato Soup     35¢  vs about $1.25 (up almost 4 times)
eggs                                 $1.00  vs  $2.68      (up almost 3 times)
Hamburger                        89¢ vs $4.68           (up over 5 times)
Canned Spam approximately $1 vs approximately $5 (up over 5 times depending on region)

I would say a 1 to perhaps even 2 times spread over 13 years on SOME items would be reasonable, but a 3 times or more spread on most items shows a major problem with GREED, as created by WALL STREET, and its desire to make all their young male Adonises into multimillionaires by the time they hit 25 is where the biggest problem stands. Again, on my high horse and in my humble opinion!

I noticed one thing, though ... vendors (or whoever) make it almost impossible to see specific prices on specific items across the years ... even finding old sale ads is darn nigh impossible. This makes it almost impossible for people to do such item by item comparisons, and to discover the REAL increases in product. © 2014


Sunnybrook Farm said...

We are transforming from things being run by the great generation as they call them to the baby boomers running things. We will probably be called the worthless generation some day as our group of leaders destroyed the American dream and took the country into socialism.

Pumice said...

I think it is too easy to fall into the socialist mindset and blame everything on "greedy corporations." While I concede that sin infests the people who run the corporations they are no worse than government officials and don't have the power of coercion. We don't take into consideration the government regulations they have to deal with and the taxes they pay. All of that is passed on to us and we don't see it. In California most gas pumps have a sticker listing all of the taxes involved in a gallon of gas. What they don't show is that the government won't let them build new refineries and all of the additives that the government requires.

I have yet to worry about corporate thugs showing up at my door if I don't comply. I can't say that about the government.

Grace and peace.

Gorges Smythe said...

You can't say that our generation won't deserve that reputation, SF; that's for sure.

I tend to agree with the guru, Pumice, maybe because I've worked for companies whose heads were paid millions, while they searched for new ways to steal from their employees.

JaneofVirginia said...

As always, thanks for the mention. I wish I were wrong.....

Gorges Smythe said...

I wish you were, too, Jane.