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Opinion: Here we are, treading water

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The argument that we, as a nation, are not much better off financially than those were in the 1970s should be something to consider. Americans for Limited Government, which we’re all for in practice, says one of the big head-scratchers inside the Beltway is politicians not understanding that the people they serve, the voters, believe they’re running in place. That means as incomes have risen, so, too, have prices. Voters believe that because it is, without a doubt, absolutely the case. So turn off your smart phone, drop your tablet and park your electric vehicle. Here are some startling figures, courtesy of AFLG (and please feel free to draw your own conclusions):

  • From 1976 through 2013, inflation averaged 3.97 percent a year. Household median income grew ostensibly at 3.96 percent a year. So, while inflation has slowed since the late 1970s, so have wages.
  • A look at the Freddie Mac home-price index will show residence values have grown nominally at 5.28 percent a year through 2013, compared with median income’s 3.96 percent.
  • Oil prices averaged 9.5 percent growth a year through 2013, says the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s more than double the growth rate of incomes.
  • The cost of sending the kids to college has exploded at 5.5 percent a year, says the U.S. Department of Education (which we would appreciate being shuttered), and wages obviously trail that.
  • The Kaiser Family Foundation points to a rise in the cost of a family health premium, which has risen at 7.6 percent a year since 2000, compared to household median income at just 1.7 percent a year since that time.

So as the feds continue to trumpet that the Consumer Price Index is historically low, especially in comparison to the “Great Inflation” of the ’70s, it doesn’t necessarily reflect the items on which we spend most of our dough: mortgages, rent, fuel, college loans and, now, mandatory health care. So, when your representative to Congress asks if you believe you’re better off now, tell him or her that you don’t know because all you’re doing is treading water.


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