Have You Bought Any Books Lately?
by James Glaser
June 9, 2008

I was going to write about inflation, and how the government has to be playing with the numbers so it looks lower than it really is. I doubt if there are any working Americans who have stayed at the same pay scale, that haven't seen their wallet get slimmer by the end of the week this year compared to any other time in their lives.

I like to read. I find it enjoyable to get a good book, find a relaxing place to read, and let the story take me away from the heat of summer, from the paper work I have piling up for work, from the list of things I have to do, and from anything else that can bring stress into my life. I have lots of books, but I have read them all, and some of them twice. You can do that with a really good book — read it twice — if you put a few years between readings. But some days, none of your books look interesting anymore, and so you head to the bookstore to discover the next adventure.

This weekend I went to Barnes and Noble's Bookstore, in the Tallahassee Mall. It is a big store with thousands and thousands of books, but still it took me a long while to find a few I wanted, and I ended up not buying any. Yes, I did find three books that looked good, but today a paperback book will cost you fifteen to eighteen dollars each, and I refuse to spend that much on something that will be worth just two dollars when you finish reading it. I have a lot of books I paid less than six dollars for, and just last year you could buy a good book for the new high price of $7.99. I could handle the dollar increase over the year before, but when they decided to double the price, I am out of there and thinking of renewing my library card.

I could have written the same story about going to the grocery store, but eating has a better grip on me than reading, and there aren't any food libraries. Food is up, fuel is up, insurance, clothing, and just about everything else, too. Houses have come down a bit as has the price of a new car, but that is because with the cost of everything else going up, fewer people are buying a house or a new car these days.

I Googled, "How the government calculates inflation," and it is some fun reading. Most people figure Washington is cooking the books to make things look better than they are. The only problem now is that inflation is hitting every sector of the economy and people are hip to the fact that their money is going through their hands faster than ever before.

Try looking up, "COLA Watch." There is a site run by retired military officers, it keeps tabs on what the government says our inflation level is. These retired officers watch the inflation rate because, like Social Security, their retirement pay goes up with what Washington figures the Cost of Living has risen to.

Of course if Washington figures that rate lower than it really is, then those millions on Social Security and the retired military people will keep falling farther behind, but the government won't have to pay as much. Also it makes which ever political party is in power appear to be fiscally prudent.

The truth is, you and I have a lot less buying power this year, and it doesn't matter what kind of spin they put on it, our pay checks are getting smaller. I can make my protest about the price of books, because I don't have to buy a new one, but most things I spend my money on are real needs. I'm living in Florida, and the temperature was 97 today and the humidity was way up there. I need air conditioning. Yes, the utilities in Tallahassee went up this year, along with everything else.

I could go on and list everything, but you know what I mean. Prices are up on almost everything, and no matter how Washington plays with the numbers this year, we know they are lying about the rate of inflation. What can we do about it? I guess the only thing you and I can do is vote for some one other than a Republican or a Democrat. I can say that because Third Party candidates haven't been in office before, and it will take them a while before they figure out how to 'cook" their set of books.

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