Lane/Tommy: Is it our imagination that prices are steadily rising without a significant increase to incomes? We have spoken with numerous people who have said they must cut something out of their budgets like cable or satellite television. There have been discussions on various financial shows that crude oil will soon hit $80 a barrel sometime this summer. We all see that gasoline has remained around $3 a gallon. Guess the rumor was true that once gas increased in price there would be no return to lower prices. Another problem is that there are increases in food and products that go beyond normal inflation.

Lane: I can remember the first time I went grocery shopping after being married. I walked out with 11 full bags of groceries plus a broom, mop and other cleaning supplies for $41 or so. It seems one goes to the store nowadays where one bag of food is nearly $50 and the bag isn’t even full. I started using a new razor and recently the cost of a package of replacement blades went up $1.50 at once.

Tommy: We have begun to use a food source as a fuel source which is not a brilliant idea. People recognize corn on the cob, kernels in a can, corn muffins or corn bread. However, corn has many other uses when it comes to food products. Read the labels of soda, candy, pet food, salad dressing and snack foods and you will see corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup. This is only a partial list of many uses for corn. Using corn to make ethanol as a gas substitute is driving the price of corn on the commodities market higher and higher. Because of a rapid increase in the price of corn, farmers are not planting crops like soybeans or barley which has an effect of increasing those prices because of shortages. Even the price of beer is affected because one of its ingredients is barley.

Lane/Tommy: One should also realize that price increases affect us in other ways. In one sense, it’s a double whammy because we see the price increase at the gas pumps without thinking about how it will be causing an increase in our taxes. What can we expect our state and municipal leaders to do when the price of fuel increases once again? How will they manage a steep increase in the cost of doing business in regards to heating oil, gasoline, diesel fuel and road maintenance items like asphalt?

Tommy: Speaking of tax increases, there is something else that needs to be discussed along with price increases because not everyone is financially enhanced equally. What I am talking about are pay raises and other compensations. Do you always receive a guaranteed cost of living increase like most municipal workers receive every year? I know many people who are on fixed incomes that receive no increase at all in their pensions. These people suffer a double curse because they pay not only for their own increase in cost of living, they are also paying for someone else’s. This boils down to someone taking a pay cut.

Lane Hiltunen and Tommy Gleason of Windham write a column, On the Right Track, for the American Journal’s sister publication, the Lakes Region Suburban Weekly.

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