Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Haven't been to the supermarket since I've been sick, so I faced a good deal of price shock when I went to get some Valentines and other supplies at my local discount food market yesterday. Practically every item I buy regularly had gone up in price. Very few had remained stable, none had gone down.
Some of the price rises were significant, 40% or more, and in the case of head lettuce, the price had more than doubled. Bananas and some baked goods were about the only items that seemed to be about the same. Meat prices in general were about 20% more; dairy was pushing 30% more. Frozen items were all up 15% - 20% or more. Bread was, in some cases, 50% more; typically, it was about 30% more. Some snack crackers had doubled in price. Canned goods were mostly 10%-15% more.
I could go on.
I knew from the news that global commodity prices were being driven up by speculators and that the cost of basic supplies for poor and marginal households around the world had become a crushing -- and in many cases an impossible -- burden which has given rise to some of the "unrest" we're seeing so often repeated. The fact that I was seeing these price increases reflected in my own grocery bill is in no way comparable to the real hardships so many people are facing -- including right here at home -- thanks to speculators, weather anomalies, crop failures and so on.
Still, it's a shock.
Also, of course, gasoline prices are shooting up toward $4 a gallon again (at the closest station to us in California, regular gas was $3.49.9 yesterday; it's probably more today), driven in part by hedge funds and speculators as before. This time, however, they are moving more slowly and deliberately to extract whatever "surplus" they can from the American economy. Well, from the Underclass at least.
This tells me we are headed toward another crash, soon. I became convinced that it was the speculator-driven rise in oil and food prices that triggered the financial collapse in 2008 -- ordinary people could not keep up with the price rises, and they cut back suddenly. When they did, the financial house of cards built on ever greater levels of debt collapsed.
We're headed down the same path now. Ordinary people haven't even remotely recovered from the previous crash; in fact, millions and millions more are being forced into what looks like perpetual poverty year over year, and if the deficit hawks get their way (they will, of course), the pace of impoverishment will accelerate, and the numbers will be off the charts.
Those already in poverty at home and abroad cannot even hope to keep up. Their lives and livelihoods are already shattered, for many, permanently. The only real hope they have is to fight back much as those abroad have been doing all over Europe and the Middle East. There's no guarantee of success, and there are many risks to life and limb for those who choose to resist rather than succumb.
But there is no other way. The domestic and global aristos are not going to stop their pillage and plunder on their own. They cannot be sated with "voluntarily" delivered treasure. They know no moral restraint. Another crash will only slow them down temporarily. The only thing the People can do to bring this careening overclass to its senses (if it has any) is to rise up and make it impossible for them -- or at least extremely uncomfortable for them -- to continue on their global campaign of looting and destruction.