I’m old enough to remember the horrible inflation during the 1970s, and I hope we never live through something like that again. I will never forget driving to work one Friday in 1979 when I was hoping I had enough gas to make it to work that day and get my paycheck. I scrambled for every penny I could find and bought as much gas as I could afford that day, but it still wasn’t enough to carry me through. Luckily for me, I picked up a hitchhiker on the way to work. If it wasn’t for his $2, neither of us would have made it to work and back home that day.
During my travels all over Alabama in the last few years, I have sat down with countless people to learn what matters to them and what they care about. So many folks I’ve talked to are in very similar situations to the one I found myself in back in 1979. Each week, they carefully budget out what they can afford, and many have little to no room to spare by the end of the week. This is why inflation, which is simply an increase in the price of goods and services, directly impacts working-class Americans the most.
With the lifting of pandemic restrictions and increasing rates of vaccinations, the vast majority of Americans are getting back to their normal routines. Finally, most folks are back to dining out, traveling and enjoying social activities. While this is great news, nearly every American is going to notice the sharp increase in the price of nearly everything because of unprecedented inflation in recent months.
I’m sure many of you have noticed the increase in prices recently. When I filled my truck up with gas a few days ago, I realized I was paying over $1 more per gallon than I was six months ago. The price of gas has increased 56.2% during the same time frame, and it continues to go through the roof. Even worse, when gas prices go up, the cost of nearly everything else increases with it.
Runaway government spending (including the trillions of dollars President Biden has pushed through on socialist programs), a labor shortage caused by Democrats’ willingness to pay people more to sit at home rather than work, and a constantly increasing federal deficit are driving inflation through the roof. A recent consumer price index report shows goods – including food, energy, groceries and housing costs – increased by 5% in the last year. For perspective, this is the fastest rate of inflation since just before the 2008 economic crisis, which was the worst recession since the Great Depression.
As inflation continues to increase, I’m reminded of the days when I was younger and found myself struggling to make ends meet because of rising costs for basic goods. The working class is the backbone of our nation, so it’s time we get serious about addressing this crisis and get to work building an economy that benefits all Americans.
Jerry Carl represents Alabama’s First Congressional District. He lives in Mobile with his wife Tina.