Inflation is here
By John Meng, General Manager/Editor Like a bad train wreck, we saw it coming. The train’s powerful Mars light blinded us to the economic peril and metal wheels screamed on the tracks towards us. None of us could get away. Inflation is here and Jackson County residents are seeing higher prices across the board.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (eiv.gov), the Weekly Texas Regular Retail Price for a gallon of regular gas was $1.465 on May 4, 2020. However, on May 11, 2021, the EIA reported that price has jumped to $2.636 per gallon. That’s an 80 percent increase in one year.
Prices in Jackson County are also on the rise. Costs are going up at every phase of production of many goods. Prices for gas, oil, crops and other commodities are skyrocketing. Companies are having to charge more for foods, delivery and consumer products including foil wraps and disposable cups, and even fresh fruit.
When it comes to food prices, USDA reports a nationwide increase by 3.5 percent increase from 2020 to 2021. However, those percentages may not be the same in Jackson County. While there is no hard data that specifically tracks Jackson County food prices, some shoppers are already noticing how their grocery bills are more than just a few months ago.
Experts explain that inflation erodes purchasing power or how much of something can be purchased with currency. Because inflation erodes the value of cash, it compels consumers to spend and stock up on items that are slower to lose value.
But either way you look at it, as inflation increases, people will have less money in their pockets and, some residents will be hit harder than others. Those with money won’t notice it, but the people on low and or week-to-week incomes will suffer from the food and gas prices. They may be forced to make tough decisions on how they live and what foods they can afford. Can we buy our favorite multi-grain bread this week or only white bread? Do we switch from steak to Ramen soup?
Historically, two of the most extreme examples of inflation are the Weimar Republic and Venezuela.
Between 1921 and 1923, Germany was already suffering from high levels of inflation due to the effects of the war and increasing government debt. The government’s decision to print more money led to hyperinflation as the more money was printed, the more prices rose.
Remember the old photos of Germans pushing wheelbarrows loaded with cash to buy bread?
More recently, Venezuela’s economic problems pushed the country into hyperinflation. In 2015, the inflation rate was 181 percent, the highest in the world. The rate reached 800 permit in 2016, over 4,000 percent in 2017, and about 1,700,000 percent in 2018.
For our local families who might struggle financially as prices increase, there are many charitable organizations in Jackson County that can help.
Helping Hands of Jackson County has offered food, clothing, hygiene and other items needed by low income residents of Jackson County for more than 34 years.
Plus, I believe every church in the county offers a means to help people in need, as does many civic organizations like Edna Rotary Club, veterans organizations and others.
We’re only at the beginning of the inflationary spiral, so it’ll probably get worse.
Unfortunately, none of our Jackson County leaders have the power to change monetary policy. But every Jackson County resident will surely feel the pinch.