CPI Unchained: A Cruel Hoax
It’s a hoax because it gives the impression that Competent People are on top of the problem and dealing with it. It’s cruel because it is just one more step away from sane, humanistic policy into a morass of corporatism. “Consumer Price Index” – sounds like it’s all about us, doesn’t it? But no; consumers are not involved in compiling this statistic. It’s not about what we are paying, or more importantly, what we perceive we are paying, but about what we are being charged. As the quality of our milk, our eggs, corn, vegetables, MELONS! (How do they even get the bacteria in there??) goes to hell, policy makers are looking at price stickers! CPI is a delusional concept to begin with, and adding “chained” (notice how smoothly the link-in-link metaphor conveys a sense of the inevitable) to this wretched acronym is just another bad fix in a long chain of lousy policy links in a sausage-factory economy; “Eeeewwww!” who wants to see how it’s made?
The reality we consumers face has more to do with Perceived Quality of Life (PQL) than with CPI. We know when our fruit has no taste, our eggs sicken us, we don’t feel well, don’t enjoy life, don’t get out as much as we used to, and yes, those things are all related. It’s more efficient, it’s cheaper to produce crap, to live in cities, to let roads leading to outdoor recreation deteriorate – what does it matter? It’s a free country! The consumer will adjust. Well, I’m not feeling very well-adjusted these days. I’m all adjusted out – exhausted. And policy makers know this, some representing corporatism, some humanism (supposedly) – and fight about false, inadequate fixes like “Minimum Wage Adjustments”. Politics and Ideology. Landowners get wealthy because cities have sprung up near their holdings, and when we try to save some wetlands, that’s a “taking” that must be compensated, but when the price of bread goes up, we have to wait decades before We The People are compensated, miserly, inadequately, and get called “moochers” into the bargain by rich pundits who tell folksy jokes about their grandmas, “…Democrats? Uh, Democrats…. rent, dear.”
Basic, Self-serving, Enlightened Human Decency (BSEHD) is dead. Henry Ford reaped rich rewards by paying his workers enough to buy his cars, Johnson Wax increased productivity by building well-lit, spacious, pleasant work spaces and (heresy!) giving workers lunch breaks. OK – not dead; we do have Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, George Soros and others to help us stand against the well-financed ideological juggernaut, but when I hear this “chained CPI” crap coming from “the most Socialist administration in history”, it sure feels like we’re losing.
PQL (Perceived Quality of Life) is not new, it’s the common man’s metric, it’s real and down-to-earth. When the American Middle Class, the largest economic engine in the world by far, felt our PQL eroding, we responded with American optimism. “We have our investments, and the value of our homes has been up,up,up, so let’s plow that value back into our PQL,” we said. “Hey, we can participate in the Ownership Society. Our true American Dream has finally come!” Because we believed the financiers, the dream peddlers, the Rick Santellis who sold us this bill of goods as long as they could profit from our “freeloading” ways; when their house of cards collapsed and they looked into the abyss, the solution was easy. “Let’s just bulldoze the Middle Class into the hole. They caused all this by living beyond their means.” And the Tea Party was born. But we know better. We look to our bottom line – PQL. “Don’t give me your lying statistics,” we need to say to Barack the Betrayer. “Keep your ‘Chained Unemployment’, your ‘Chained CPI’, your ‘Chained COLA’ and all your other false fixes and speak to me. To me. Let me tell you about PQL.”
In other news, it seems “5” gum is out with a new flavor – “Oblivion”. And Tom Cruise has landed the role of leading man in the TV commercial.