by ilene - December 2nd, 2010 4:24 pm
Charles Hugh Smith shows the games played in determining "inflation" levels when not all prices are included in the measurements. It may be worth dispensing with the misleading term all together. When prices for big-ticket items keep rising but the items are not considered in the calculations, we have a clear mismatch between government statistics and household realities. However you define inflation, there is a real problem from real people. And regardless of one’s operative definition of inflation, Inflation Is Rampant in Tuition, Healthcare and Property Taxes. - Ilene
Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds
A number of big-ticket household expenses are skyrocketing: tuition, property taxes and healthcare.
Here is my simple definition of rampant inflation: you’re paying a lot more money for the same item/service but the quality/quantity is the same or lower--and your income is stagnant/declining. We are constantly told that inflation is near-zero, but the basket of goods selected for measurement seems not to include healthcare/ health insurance, college tuition or property taxes.
These costs are skyrocketing, and they are non-trivial expenses, running into the tens of thousands of dollars per year. I have addressed the difference in scale of expenses for the wealthy and the "middle class" before. For instance, $10,000 per year for healthcare insurance is a massive percentage of the after-tax income of a household earning $60,000 a year, while it is a modest percentage roughly equivalent to the sums spent eating out and traveling for a household earning $160,000 a year.
The same scale differences are present in all measures of inflation. Onions might well have declined over the past year, which means that the $30 I spent annually on onions declined to $29--a grand savings of $1.
Even a 10% decline in natural gas costs would only yield a modest $50 reduction in costs for my household. Let’s say another household consumes a lot more natural gas, and their savings would total $200 a year.
Compare these modest reductions due to deflation with the thousands of dollars in increases in big-ticket items like tuition, property taxes and healthcare.
Take property taxes. Nationally, according to the Census Bureau report on state and local tax revenues, total property taxes in the U.S. rose from $225 billion in 1998 to $476 billion in 2009-- an increase of 111% over a time period that saw costs rise 32% (i.e.…