Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Politifacts Supports Palin's Food Price Rise Premise But Gives A "Barely True" Rating.More Elitism

In discussing the difference in world view between the economist Reddy and Sarah Palin who is speaking for the person in the street I said the basic difference is one of non-comprehending elitism on one hand and dealing with the raw facts of life that the average person struggling on a budget has to deal with.

The core of the argument was that Reddy said that figures show groceries have only gone up a small amount i.e. 1.4% whereas Palin said they have risen significantly (with more to come). One is an out of touch academic one has her finger on the pulse of reality for the common person. I said previously that Reddy's statistics refer to a basket of commodities many of which are none essentials. Palin speaks from the heart about basic essentials-milk, beef etc.

Politifacts has taken it in itself to be the arbiter in this discussion and-lo and behold here are the facts (we presume Politifacts is correct as there is no Politifacts Politfacts to check up on them).

"One point (also mentioned by Reddy) is that certain grocery items increased faster than others -- and that included some staples. CPI data showed that the price of butter increased by 19.1 percent during the 12 months ended Sept. 30, 2010, while the price of bacon rose by 15.7 percent, lamb increased by 9.4 percent and milk increased by 8.3 percent. Meanwhile, BEA statistics show that certain broad food categories rose faster than the food-sector average: a 3.4 percent increase for meats and poultry, a 3.4 percent bump for milk, dairy products and eggs; and a 2.8 percent hike for sweets and sugar.

All of these items, in other words, rose a whole lot faster than food inflation generally. And it's simply human nature for a consumer to feel like prices are rising quickly if you have to pay increases like that every time you enter the checkout line. As long as you're paying through the nose for milk, the brain tends to forget that the dried lentils you just bought are down 5.5 percent, and the peanut butter you just bought is down 5.1 percent.

The second point is that even if food prices are flat or rising slightly, Americans are living through a period of stagnating or contracting incomes, which means even slowly rising prices hurt.

In total, Americans tend to spend about 11 percent to 12 percent of their income on food, with a small majority spent on food at home and the rest spent at restaurants. Over the last three years, the food-at-home portion of that spending -- the only part relevant for judging Palin's statement -- rose from 6.4 percent in 2007 to 6.5 percent in 2008 to 6.8 percent in 2009".

In spite of confirming the obvious drift of Palin's remarks Politifacts still endorse the elitist viewpoint and gives Palin a "Barely True" rating. For those in the real world at the check out counter the view would be much much different. We must be grateful for small mercies however and this should be the final nail in the coffin of those who have attacked Palin for defending what is common sense to the average person.

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