Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

What's This about a Sudden Worry over Inflation?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

What's This about a Sudden Worry over Inflation?

Article excerpt

For the past two weeks, I have read with interest the forebodings of American economists on the subject of inflation. On March 22, the Federal Reserve hiked short-term interest rates based on fears of inflation, and on the following day, journalists reported the alarming news that after a long period of relative stability, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was suddenly rising.

Was I born yesterday, or am I living on a different planet from the guys who forecast our economic woes? You see, despite low interest rates, the past few years of my life have been lived in what I would consider to be a pretty fair continuum of inflation.

In the past year or two our family has come to dine only rarely on steak, veal chops, or lamb chops, owing to escalating prices. Over the past three years, heating oil charges for our modest Connecticut home rose about 30 percent, from $1.27 to $1.65 per gallon. And in the past two years, the price of gas for our cars has risen about 40 percent.

And then, of course, there are education costs. College tuition for our daughter went up this year by a whopping $2,400 - more than 10 percent. Oh, and there is health insurance for the self- employed, which in 2004 cost our family $7,088.32 (up from $5,683.71 in 2003) - this with a family deductible of $7,500! But hey, I guess that since health and education are separate governmental agencies from the Federal Reserve, healthcare and tuition costs haven't been noticed much there.

We bought our home outright, in 1992, with an inheritance. And we feel awfully fortunate we did. What with the recent rise in our town's property taxes - which are twice what they were when we bought the place and 17 percent more than they were just two years ago - we probably couldn't afford to live here if we had a mortgage. On the other hand, though the value of our house has climbed about 70 percent since its purchase, we can't afford to move.

Like Fafner, the deluded, treasure-hoarding dragon of Wagner's "Siegfried," my husband and I used to fall asleep at night contemplating the bounty of our inflating property values. …

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