a brief discussion about economics, inflation & stupidity

One of the things that gets my goat is when I sense other people thinking I’m stupid. Sorry. “Stupid” is strong language for me; it’s just that it feels so disrespectful. I’m not suggesting that a person can’t disagree nor even think I’m wrong. I’m addressing when a person thinks I’m stupid for thinking differently than they. Case in point…

Over the course of recent months, we’ve been told the following:

“Our economy is the envy of the world!”

“The US economy is humming along.”

“The U.S. economy is the world’s best.”

“The economy is thriving.”

“We can feel great about our economy!”

And yet we don’t. We don’t feel great; it doesn’t feel envious. It doesn’t feel humming or best either. Despite those who wish it so, repeated business resources share a consumer pulse that is deeply frustrated with our economy and not better off than we were four years ago. With such a disconnect, the question is why.

Those who wish us to believe the economic picture is one of strength refer most frequently to a healthy labor market, low unemployment and a continued bull market. Some may refer to the arguable slowing of inflation, but therein lies the misnomer. Allow us to explain.

According to the US Inflation Calculator the annual inflation rate was as follows:


Inflation soared after Covid. It soared to a monthly high of 9.1% in June of 2022. It began to decrease 2 years ago, although it remains notably above 2%, which the Federal Reserve identifies as a sign of a healthy economy.

So when we people attempt to convince us how wonderful our economy is, they are omitting relevant data; they are not acknowledging the impact of inflation upon price levels. For after inflation’s spike in March of 2021, the price of goods and services has remained high. For example…

In May of 2020, the average price for an unleaded regular gallon of gasoline was $1.88. Currently in 2024, the most updated average price of gasoline is $3.58 per gallon. 

In 2020 the average price for a pound of ground chuck, 100% beef was $4.79. Today that price is $5.42.

Four years ago, eggs cost $1.45 per dozen. The average price is down from 2023 — when the average cost jumped to $4.82 — but it remains over $3 per dozen today, more than 100% higher.

Milk cost $2.96 in 2020. Today it averages $3.85 per gallon — an increase of 30%.

And let’s not forget about stamps. Four years ago, stamps were 55¢. Today it takes 68¢ to mail a US domestic letter — a 23.6% increase. Prices are significantly higher.

The reality is that even if the labor market is healthy, unemployment is low, and the market remains bullish, the inflated price levels of standard goods and service — from energy to eggs and houses to healthcare — have reduced consumers collective purchasing power. 

So… “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?”

When nominee Ronald Reagan posed the question in the final week of the campaign in 1980, little did the watching public know the inquiry would become such a rhetorical, presidential benchmark. There is indeed much to consider. Granted, there is more to consider than economics.

We’re not stupid.