Last week I came across an interesting article that explains why, despite what the cash register at the local supermarket tells me, my Social Security check has not had a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) since 2009 and probably will not next year either. Maybe never.
We’ll come back to that explanation in a moment.
The information in that article inspired me to Google up the official explanation. I was sorry I did that.
A more complicated and deceptive piece of bull-shit you have not seen since you sat down with income tax forms. But, if you are into exotic forms of self-abuse, such as boredom and confusion, see this.
The secret – (not that it’s hidden; it’s just not well known and even fewer people understand it) is the “Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers”
I kind of admire the cynicism of admitting that consumers are in chains.
The CCPIAUB, as it’s burbled in the grey corridors of the faceless agencies that control it, is one of those “hand is quicker than the eye” things that are so admired by crooked poker dealers and other government agencies.
You see, when the price of basic things like food and transportation rise, their costs do not really go up. You are looking at prices. Prices go up and you assume (oh, please not now) that the cost of living goes up.
That’s your first and last mistake.
But according to the formula that now controls your COLA, when prices go up, your cost of living goes down. And, damn it they are right!!!
The “chained” logic goes like this . . .
- If you are on a fixed income (like SS or a disabled vet pension) and the price of food, shelter, medicine and transportation go up, you reduce or even totally stop buying them.
- You eat less or you substitute margarine for butter, pasta for meat and “juice drink” for real orange juice and tap water for milk.
- you walk instead of taking the bus (or you stay home)
- you cut your diabetes and blood pressure pills in half
- mend your socks and stop wearing underwear.
- you give up cable and then borrow videos or books from a public library (if budget cuts have not shut down your local branch).
- If rents and utilities rise, you move back in with the nagging wife or abusive husband you left 6 years ago.
- Therefore, what looks, on paper, like a price increase, really does not cost you anything.
- Therefore, your cost of living does not go up
- Therefore, you do not need a Cost Of Living Adjustment.
Aren’t you glad you asked?
I swear to Gaia, that’s is exactly how the COLA rules now work.
” A Modest Proposal” – an idea that is a relevant today as it was almost 300 years ago when Jonathan Swift offered it as the cure for poverty and hunger.
Wikipedia – US Consumer Price Index Please scroll down and take special note of bullshit such as “Fixed weights do not accommodate consumer substitutions among commodities, such as buying more chicken when the price of beef increases. Because the CPI assumes that people continue to buy beef, it would increase even if people are buying chicken instead. However, this is by design: the CPI measures the change in expenses required for people to maintain the same standard of living.”
in other words, they do not use the substitution of cheaper kind of meat as way of reporting a lower Consumer Price Index. They simply report that people buy less steak and more chicken, therefore their cost for meat has gone down.
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”