Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Price of Cheese is What?

 $ for cheese photo by M Barrett Miller

I must have dozed off when the price of cheese, per pound, became greater than the price of Copper River salmon.
There are competitions to see which Seattle store will have the salmon first!
High-end stores eagerly await the escorts flying in from Alaska to deliver the fish to jostling consumers lining up to throw down their dough for a slice of chilled ruby red salmon.

What’s going on?
Has anyone noticed prices lately?
Really, I must have hit my head and awakened into a land where just about everything in the store hovers near the $5.00 mark. 

Maybe I just haven’t been paying attention.
That’s entirely possible.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics the average hourly earnings for those living in the USA is $23.38. That rounds out to around $48,880.00 a year or $4,073.33 a month. *
Most of us are concerned with that monthly figure in order to maintain.

A great many of the people I associate with, through Let Kids Be Kids, are making from $10.00 - $12.00 an hour. At 40 hours that brings in monthly income of $1,733.33 and $2080.00 respectively. (Most are not working forty hours)
Knock out the big one, rent or mortgage; add in medical, lights, sewer, water, gas for the guzzler, access to the internet, unless you are coughing up a $1.80 for coffee at Starbucks for free internet, bank fees, telephone, oh yeah, food etc. etc. etc
Some are servicing college debt.
At the end of the day you don’t have a lot of what they love to call disposable income. That money that you can make decisions with above and beyond the demands of just maintaining standing still.
That money that everybody wants and you don’t have to give.
You have no savings, no emergency money, and no additional money to give to your kid’s education, field trips, supplies, snacks in the lunch bag, if you have kids.
College for your kids – forget it!
No thoughts to ever having a vacation, a more reliable car or a moment when you are not fretting about money.

The store can offer you red kidney beans at $2.89 a tin, toilet paper at $5.20 a four-pack, day old chicken pieces for $6.00, fatty hamburger at xyz per pound, boxes of pasta at $5.29----on and on and on as you look to find eatable items with what money you have in your jeans.

You begin to look at everything as a percentage of that hourly wage you are so desperately trying to stretch.
Gas costs you a half an hour of labor per gallon.
Milk, creamer, sugar and mass produced coffee in a five-pound tin is an hour of labor.
Apples, bananas, grapefruit is an hour of income.
Boxes of pasta, discounted pasta sauce, tomatoes, garlic, onions, peppers, capers is an hour plus of your bankroll.

If you ever lose your grip and treat yourself to a film it will cost you close to two hours of pay. You might have no option but to pay for street parking, at roughly $4.00 per hour, but cheaper than a lot if you can get back to your car before that $48.00 overtime ticket. Add in your ticket and $5.25 for a small bag of popcorn and you’ve blown your wad.
Your extravagance brings you lots of guilt and little enjoyment.
You didn’t really deserve that popcorn!
You know you can never take anyone to the movies. Not your kids, a friend, or anyone.

The other day I took a man to a high school to talk with teenagers about what life is like for him as he fights the ravages of AIDS. He has $55.00 to spend each month. That’s it - $55.00 a month!! All his stay alive costs are covered by insurance, wiped out savings, gone 401k’s, AIDS programs, some debt, government programs and Social Security.

He apologized to me for me spending so much on his favorite Colonel Sander’s combination, accompanied by a gigantic Coke.
An hour and ten minutes of pay!

Something’s wrong out there in the land of the free and the home of the brave!

*[1] Each month the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program surveys about 141,000 businesses and government agencies, representing approximately 486,000 individual worksites, in order to provide detailed industry data on employment, hours, and earnings of workers on nonfarm payrolls.

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