Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics: Who Are You Going to Believe, Joe Biden, or Your Lying Eyes?

The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” — George Orwell, 1984

The official inflation rate has come down from its highs earlier in the Biden Administration, and the Democrats are arguing that inflation has been whipped, that wages are rising just as fast as prices, and even a little bit faster. But Erin McCarthy of The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote something that just doesn’t go along with the Democrats’ meme.

‘A cheeseburger at this point is a luxury’: Why the all-American staple costs more this summer

Consumers are feeling the sting whether they’re shopping for Memorial Day cookouts or grabbing a bite at McDonald’s, where a quarter-pounder with cheese meal is now $12.

by Erin McCarthy | Friday, May 24, 2024 | 5:00 AM EDT

Amber Lee has a hard time stomaching the ground beef section at her local Wegmans.

Lee eats beef. She just can’t bring herself to pay for it.

“A cheeseburger at this point is a luxury,” said Lee, 36, a mother of two from Downingtown.

As beef prices have surged, Lee, a part-time mental health counselor, and her husband, a UPS supervisor, have started opting mostly for meals centered on fish that they catch themselves along the Jersey Shore and cook at home.

If they go out to eat for a special occasion, Lee said, she refuses to pay more than $15 for a burger “unless it has the words Kobe or Wagyu in front of it,” referring to higher-quality types of beef.

$15? $15? Yes, I’m admitting my age, but I remember that, during my freshman year, I could get two regular hamburgers, a large order of fries, and a chocolate shake at the McDonalds on Nicholasville Road for 94¢.

Consumers are feeling the sting of higher beef prices whether they’re shopping for Memorial Day cookouts or grabbing a bite at McDonald’s, where a quarter-pounder with cheese meal is now $12, more than double what it cost a decade ago.

Since the pandemic, food prices have risen more than 20%, according to the Federal Reserve. Over the past year, the cost of many staples has declined or moderated, but beef and veal prices have kept rising, up 7% over April 2023, according to the most recent Consumer Price Index. The continued rise is attributed in part to a cattle shortage and has led some consumers to opt for cheaper alternatives like chicken.

There’s more at the original, much of it detailing how restaurants are trying to keep costs down, but haven’t always been able to do so.

This brings me back to an article Heather Long, then with CNN, wrote a couple of months before the 2016 election:

Problem: Most Americans don’t believe the unemployment rate is 5%

by Heather Long | September 6, 2016 | 3:18 PM EDT

Americans think the economy is in far worse shape than it is.The U.S. unemployment rate is only 4.9%, but 57% of Americans believe it’s a lot higher than that, according to a new survey by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.

The general public has “extremely little factual knowledge” about the job market and labor force, Rutgers found.

It’s another example of how experts on Wall Street and in Washington see the economy differently than the regular Joe. Many of the nation’s top economic experts say that America is “near full employment.” The unemployment rate has actually been at or below 5% for almost a year — millions of people have found jobs in what is the best period of hiring since the late 1990s.

But regular people appear to have their doubts about how healthy America’s employment picture is. Nearly a third of those survey by Rutgers believe unemployment is actually at 9%, or higher.

Republican candidate Donald Trump has tapped into this confusion. He has repeatedly called the official unemployment rate a “joke” and even “hoax.”

So, the “regular Joe” saw the economy differently from “experts on Wall Street and in Washington.” As it happens, the third of those surveyed at the time who believed the unemployment rate was 9% or higher were pretty close to on target, not with the official U-3 unemployment rate, but with U-6, which includes:

“Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force.”

Why, it’s almost as though those surveyed looked around and saw some of their neighbors, or even themselves, who might have had jobs, but jobs which were only part time, paid too little, and saw no opportunities for better ones. Who were they going to believe, the Democrats campaigning for office, or their lying eyes?

And so it is today. The left are telling Americans, and American voters, that everything is peaches but the cream when it comes to the economy, but when it comes to the things for which Americans have to pay every day, every week, or every month, things like food and gasoline and rent, they see prices having gone up and up and up. Add to that one of the best ways to build wealth for working-class Americans, buying their home, the statistics show that huge percentages of Americans simply can’t afford to do so.

According to Zillow, our house, which we purchased in September of 2014, is worth more than twice what we paid for it, 109% more. The small rental property we bought in December of 2021 is now supposedly worth 52% more, and the house our older daughter bought in September of 2020, in a more expensive city than ours, is worth 31% more.

From the last cited link:

Having skirted an actual recession last year, we entered a vibecession in which virtually all economic data suggests the United States is thriving, but people aren’t quite feeling the effects.

In a CNN poll conducted last month¹, a stunning 71% of Americans said economic conditions in the country were “poor,” with 38% calling them “very poor.” And that’s somehow better than in the summer of 2022, when 82% said the economy was poor.

The culprits behind the bad vibes are obvious: high prices, an impenetrable housing market, persistent inequality, rising debt.

Decades-high inflation is finally coming back down to Earth, but in its wake is the scourge of high prices — a daily reminder of how much more we’re shelling out both for basic necessities and the indulgences we denied ourselves during the pandemic, like concert tickets and vacations.

Who are you going to believe, Joe Biden or your lying eyes?

It’s the same thing as we saw in 2016: the “experts on Wall Street and in Washington (who) see the economy differently than the regular Joe” are all well-paid people, for whom those $15.00+ cheeseburgers are really not that big a deal. With debit cards having replaced cash for most people, they aren’t digging down for more bills to pay for a meal, but just a piece of plastic. To them, it’s just numbers, and really no big deal. But to working-class Americans, to the middle class, to retirees, the numbers have a real world impact, and not a good one.
¹ – December of 2023.
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