Letter 2 America for November 28, 2021

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Dear America,

This weekend, my wife did the grocery shopping.  I had put chuck roast on the list because she loves my beef stew, and I can cut up the roast into cubes to make it for her.  Mind you, if I tried to roast that piece of meat, it would be tough, and less than a pleasure to eat, but as stew, chuck is just right, and the price was right: $3.99 per pound.  I can hear you wondering why I'm taking this diversion into the butchers' milieu.  You don't see its relevance to politics, do you.  Well, let me explain myself.  There is the usual plethora of political conversation about party prospects in '22 and '24, and the analyses all make a variety of the same points: Biden's age, the fractious failures of the Democratic party, the Afghanistan withdrawal, the persistence of the pandemic, unemployment being low while many jobs go unfilled because no one will apply for them and so on.  But lately, the list of chosen topics almost always includes inflation.  It's at a high not seen in decades, and it actually explains a lot of what's going on relative to the other topics of interest.  So does our chuck roast.

For $3.99 a pound, my wife and I can enjoy a tasty and sustaining meal based on meat.  But most meat doesn't go for $3.99 a pound.  If you want steak that you can chew these days, you'll pay $19 or $20 a pound.  If you want to go out to eat, you'll probably have to pay $25 a person whereas you used to pay something between $15 and $20.  One of the reasons for the inflation you will be experiencing as you eat out is wages.  In order to fill the job of the waiter or waitress who serves you, the restaurant manager had to pay them more just to get them to come to work, and the increase in your bill will demand a higher tip.  And back in the kitchen, the line cooks are getting more too, so some of the extra amount on your bill will go to them, to keep them showing up for the miserable hours they have to put in so that you can enjoy a meal without having to make it yourself.  That's the good aspect of the pandemic.  It has leveled our society or at least is in the process of doing so.  People got by somehow for almost two years without having to put up with doing the undesirable work that they were used to needing in order to eat and live under a roof, and now they have found other ways of getting those creature comforts: working on computers from home, applying and getting better paying work because there is a shortage of labor willing to do it, using diplomas and certificates earned going to school on-line to advance careers that they had no hope of pursuing before.  Life is getting better for them as the already good lives the rest of us were leading are getting somewhat more expensive.  Our society is being leveled economically, and in my opinion, that's a good thing.

Mind you, I like a good steak as much as the next person.  And whereas I might have been able to eat one once a month before, maybe it'll be once every two or three months, but that's alright.  We are probably middle-middle class economically, and our life is pretty good.  I don't mean to say it couldn't be better or that we are the envy of anyone.  But we own our house, at least we and the bank do, and because we are financially prudent and drive used cars for which we paid cash, we don't have to pay too much in the way of monthly bills, so we can afford to eat pretty well.  Besides stew, we eat shrimp and salmon we buy on sale, and we love red bliss potatoes, which we also buy on sale because they cost twice as much ordinarily.  And when we buy presents for Christmas, we shop around rather than just punching up Amazon and paying what they ask.  For example, my son wants Clark's desert boots, but they cost over $125 almost everywhere...including on Amazon.  But my wife found them for sale for 40% less by cruising around on her computer and using inducements of one kind or another to buy from specific places.  It's a pain in the ass to live like that, frankly.  We are always aware of the financial pressure that impinges on our decisions, and to be honest, I would just as soon be rich.  But I'm not, and now, some of the pressure that other non-rich people have felt--and frankly been oppressed by for years--is abating...just a little bit, and all it's costing is a little bit of inflation that we are all paying together.

Think of all this as a long overdue adjustment.  While there are some among us who can take rides into space on a lark, others of us have to take the bus because we can't afford to buy cars.  And others of us have the wherewithal to buy new Lexus sedans while others of us can only but the twenty year old ones that some old lady kept in the garage for decades.  And some of us get to go out once a week while others of us only get to put our kids to bed on the weekends because we have to work odd hours to make sure they can eat.  And now, the divide between have and have not is getting a little smaller.  Isn't that worth a few extra dollars from those of us who have them.

Your friend,


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This page contains a single entry by Michael Wolf published on November 28, 2021 4:03 PM.

Letter 2 America for October 29, 2021 was the previous entry in this blog.

Letter 2 America for December 7, 2021 is the next entry in this blog.

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