Opinion: The squeeze is on

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Many media outlets reported last week that the rate of inflation in the United States surpassed its 39-year-high mark posted in 1982.  Then, Madonna was first “Burning Up” the stage and “The Dukes of Hazzard” raced to top ratings.  Fueled by any number of variables, including — but not limited to — the lingering effects of global pandemic, those of us not benefited by the seismic shift in the way we work, live and shop continue to be caught in a gap.

Although wages are increasing, they are not able to keep up with the sticker spike of almost everything.  And America’s small businesses struggle to pass through the surging costs of labor and materials to we consumers, who, back to the beginning of the circle, must demand higher wages to compensate for increasing prices. With shrinking margins, business owners push on their suppliers to reduce their fees and drive their own beleaguered employees to the brink with additional demands on their time. If labor outlays grow with no way to pay, increased efficiency per job may be the only path to achieve financial balance.

If we are all richer, how can we be getting poorer? Families live amid wages outpaced by inflation; and employers are caught between customers expecting reductions and staff demanding increases. For now, the squeeze is on. Eventually, we will adjust. We must. Increasing expenses and decreasing margins invariably lead to bankruptcy or abandonment. If there is no reason to work, why do it? Isn’t the same true for both our families and businesses? So, we plod along looking to pass our problems off to someone else, to take their surplus to help prop up our own deficit. Is it just the simple nature of things or should we demand a redistribution? Who is to benefit?


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