Yesterday, Paul Krugman pointed out that core inflation has not been, and still isn’t, a big problem facing most Americans today. Oil and health care prices have been a squeeze, it is true. But with cost containment and subsidies for health care, and better fuel economy and easing oil prices, those are somewhat less pressing today.
So how does Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal respond? A giant headline above the fold in today’s paper blaring BASIC COSTS SQUEEZE FAMILIES.
Health-care spending by middle-income Americans rose 24% between 2007 and 2013… That hit has been accompanied by increases in spending on other necessities, including food eaten at home, rent and education, as well as the soaring cost of staying connected digitally via cellphones and home Internet service.
In other words: Health insurance costs went up. Cell phone costs went up. Education costs went up. “Food eaten at home” went up, although they don’t cover whether eating out went down or stagnated, indicating that people are switching to eating at home to save money. But core inflation, as much as they want it to be a problem, is not the problem.
Stagnant wages are the problem. Health and education and rent costs are the problem. Observers are accustomed to lamenting the Washington Post’s coverage of politics and the economy, and wondering when the decay of standards will finally lead to the ultimate collapse of the paper as an institution. Must we also concede that the Wall Street Journal is nothing but a hollow shell, awaiting its own downfall?