Trust but verify…

About ten minutes ago I heard a little news update saying that the holiday travel season was going to be the “busiest yet” even though gas prices are “significantly higher” than they were last year at this time.  Sadly, I can’t quite remember what I paid to fill up my tank last December, but I think the dollar price might actually have been more last year.  Although, to be fair, I have since moved to a somewhat pricier neighborhood and our gas is almost ten cents more than in my old neighborhood.

 Anyway, this got me to thinking even more about how the media spins economic news.  If I spend too much time listening to local or national news, I put on my coat to go get in line at the soup kitchen.  But then, I look around me and just about everyone I know (which includes a variety of people) are doing fairly well.  Sure, some have to juggle to keep their heads above water, but some of those people should probably have put more thought into leasing that Jetta .  Not that it isn’t a spiffy car, but they might have been better off financially with a solid used car.  My parents are living on the fixed incomes of retirement savings and Social Security and often complain about having to deny themselves things.  But they also have a huge stock safety net that they are wisely not touching just for a cruise line vacation.  My girlfriend and I are doing fine but we also eat really cheap spaghetti three nights a week.  Of course, we are eating that spaghetti in our newly purchased home in our about-to-be renovated kitchen.  When we were merely renters, I made chicken all of the time we went out to eat a lot more.  But we chose to buy a home knowing that it would have to change our financial lifestyle.

 Now, I am not blind.  I live near a poverty stricken city in a no-job-growth state.  I know that there are plenty of people suffering.  But they have been suffering for a very long time, through several mayors, governors and presidents.  President Johnson’s 1964 declaration of war on poverty really didn’t accomplish much.  Once you’ve reached a certain level of suffering, I don’t think a rise in the price of gasoline is going to ellicit even a whimper.

Over the course of this year, while I have been told repeatedly about how bad I am supposed to be doing financially, Ive had more money to donate to charity.  In the past, I would want to donate, but I really couldn’t spare an extra two dollars.  But this year I’ve been able to put a little something in every red Salvation Army bucket I’ve passed.  My girlfriend and I were actually able to spare $30 to buy an art kit for one of her students who required it for his art class, but whose mother just couldn’t come up with that kind of extravagance.  A couple of years ago an extra $30 would have had me on my knees thanking God.

Anyway, on to the trust but verify part of this post…  I want to record current economic stats here, so that next year at this time I can reference them.  This is just going to be a small sample of stats, but probably the ones that most concern my household.

 Gasoline at my little station around the corner $2.92 per gal

Milk at my local Wal-Mart $3.98 per gallon

The DOW at noon 13,409.36

Last quater’s economic growth 4.9%

Consumer spending for November, up 1.1%, the highest “jump” since May 2004

Inflation uo 2.2% for the past 12 months

30 year mortgage rate 5.74%

The dollar is worth 0.6967 to the Euro and 0.9930 to the Canadian dollar

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One Response

  1. […] Trust but verify 2008… Posted on December 30, 2008 by myrenovations Here is something I wrote about a year ago in a post called Trust But Verify.  […]

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