Oil is up, gas is up, food is up, transportation is up, everything is up. Except, that is, wages, which aren’t keeping pace with the rise in prices.
It’s not just that prices are rising — it’s that wages aren’t. Previous bouts of inflation have usually meant a wage-price spiral, as pay and prices chase each other ever upward. But now paychecks are falling further and further behind. In the past three months, consumer prices have been rising at a 5.7 percent annual rate while average weekly wages have barely budged, increasing at an annual rate of only 1.3 percent. And the particular prices that are rising are for products that people encounter most frequently in their daily lives and have the least flexibility to avoid. For the most part, it’s not computers and cars that are getting more expensive, it’s gasoline, which is up 19 percent in the past year, ground beef, up 10 percent, and butter, up 23 percent.
But what’s this have to do with theology? Everything. Because theology is about every aspect of life and every aspect of life has a theological dimension. While the rich are getting richer, the poor are falling further and further behind. While the ‘fat cows of Bashan’ fluff their pillows, the poor despair. Who do you think, after all, benefits from these higher prices while wages remain lower? It isn’t the poor. Here’s a clue- it’s the people wealthy enough not to care how high prices go- they can afford to buy whatever and as much as anything they like.