Did you know that …
Seventy-five years ago: Hamburger cost 15 cents per pound. A loaf of bread cost 10 cents. A gallon of gasoline cost 16 cents. A candy bar or an ice cream cone cost 5 cents. Movie admissions cost 25 cents (10 cents for kids through 12). It cost 3 cents to mail a letter (1 cent for a postcard.)
Dime stores paid high school-age clerks 15 cents per hour. Baby sitters charged 10-15 cents per hour.The consumer price index has risen from 42 in 1940 to 610 in 2006. That means that the cost of living is nearly fifteen times what it was 75 years ago, and if it continues at the same rate, it will nearly triple in the next 20 years. This is how governments (and businesses that support them), pay their debts. Twenty years from now our present national debt of nearly $9 trillion will amount to only $3 trillion dollars in current dollars. Those who have savings accounts or who purchase government bonds will see the purchasing power of their savings reduced to about a third of its present purchasing power.College and health care costs are up 50 percent and 73 percent respectively, just since 2000.Federal support of America’s infrastructure (highways and water and sewage systems) has been reduced to one third of what it was from 1950 to 1970. A tremendous backlog of needs has built up.
“Pork” projects now account for 7 percent of federal public works funding.Over one quarter of America’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.For the first time ever, we’ve had four straight years of rising productivity and falling incomes for American workers, undermining the middle class, the backbone of America. Meanwhile, corporate profits have nearly doubled since 2001.On average, the American tobacco industry has increased the amount of nicotine delivered in cigarettes by 10 percent since 1998.The meat industry is increasing the volume (and weight) of supermarket steaks and pork chops by 20 percent by injecting them with water.
This year, $483 billion of your taxes will go for military expenditures, not including the cost of the war in Iraq more than the total of all other federal programs (such as the environment, education, health care, housing and science), and nearly as much as all of the rest of the countries in the world combined. Our outlay amounts to $1,600 per person, which is rivaled only by Israel.The number of lobbyists in Washington, D.C. has doubled since 2000, to 65 for every member of Congress. The amount spent by lobbyists wooing Congressional favors exceeds $2 billion per year, which is probably just a fraction of the benefits which those whom the lobbyists serve are likely to receive.In spite of our population increasing 2 percent per year, national forest and national park funding is being cut, requiring major reductions in facilities serving the public primarily campgrounds, which benefit modest-income families. (This will be discussed in my next column.)Do you get the feeling that there’s something wrong here? It will be up to the incoming Congress to rectify some of these conditions. Hopefully they will be up to the task.Hal Sundin’s column appears every other Thursday in the Post Independent.
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