American Elephants

Meat, Poultry, Fish and Eggs Prices Hit an All-Time High in May! by The Elephant's Child

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the seasonally adjusted price index for meats, poultry, fish and eggs hit an all-time high in May.  You may have noticed. The index for these 4 products has risen 7.7 percent over the last year.  These items go into the food at home category.

Each month BLS employs data collectors to visit thousands of retail stores all over the United States to collect information on the prices of thousands of items to measure changes for the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Chicken goes into the CPI, but meats, fish and eggs don’t. Beef is up because of the drought in California. Pork is up because a diarrhea disease has decimated baby pigs. I don’t know what’s up with eggs. I buy brown eggs, but haven’t been able to get any for three weeks. In the Northwest, the stores seem to believe that Northwesterners only eat salmon, which may be true. Our freeways are decorated with salmon artwork.

Here are the goods and services that go into the CPI:

  • FOOD AND BEVERAGES (breakfast cereal, milk, coffee, chicken, wine, full service meals and snacks);
  • HOUSING (rent of primary residence, owners’ equivalent rent, fuel oil, bedroom furniture);
  • APPAREL (men’s shirts and sweaters, women’s dresses, jewelry);
  • TRANSPORTATION (new vehicles, airline fares, gasoline, motor vehicle insurance);
  • MEDICAL CARE (prescription drugs and medical supplies, physicians’ services, eyeglasses and eye care, hospital services);
  • RECREATION (televisions, cable television, pets and pet products, sports equipment, admissions);
  • EDUCATION AND COMMUNICATION (college tuition, postage, telephone services, computer software and accessories);
  • OTHER GOODS AND SERVICES (tobacco and smoking products, haircuts and other personal services, funeral expenses).

So you can see why the inflation rate doesn’t seem to match the outgo in your budget. College tuition must throw everything off all by itself, and have you seen the price of bacon lately?

Inflation measures all the things you don’t buy, and don’t use, and none of the things driving up  your cost of living. Bureaucrats!


The IRS Scandal: Is It Only A Big Deal When They Come After You? by The Elephant's Child

Darrell Issa is unconvinced by the explanation from the IRS that after being strung along for more than a year, golly darn it, the IRS had a local hard drive failure which erased records that should have been stored permanently. Nobody else is convinced either. The chairman of the House Oversight Committee has issued a subpoena for IRS Commissioner John Koskinen to testify next week on the whereabouts of the missing two years of Lois Lerner emails.

Lerner is the former IRS official at the heart of the scandal, which just grows and grows as bits of information dribble out.

I’ve heard two IT experts on the radio who say that the emails are easily obtained from the servers on which they are stored and even those are backed up. Each said separately that it would take them about an hour to retrieve the missing emails, and that there is no possibility that they cannot be retrieved.

The IRS now says it cannot produce the emails from six more employees involved in the targeting of conservative groups. Eliana Johnson writes at NRO:

Emails produced in response to a FOIA Act request from Judicial Watch show Nikole Flax, the chief of staff to former commissioner Steven Miller, who was fired in the wake of the scandal, show Flax giving the green light to Lerner’s request to meet with Department of Justice officials to explore the possibility of criminally prosecuting nonprofit groups — at the suggestion of Democratic senator Sheldon Whitehouse — for engaging in political activity after declaring on their application for nonprofit status that they had no plans to do so.

E-mails uncovered by the committee last week showed that, in preparation for her meeting with the Department of Justice, Lerner and one of her advisers transmitted 1.1 million pages of data on nonprofit groups, including confidential taxpayer information, to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, potentially in violation of federal law.     (emphasis added)

John Fund, in a delightful column at National Review, suggests that you can tell when there’s a cover-up in Washington. Start with a passive-aggressive way of acknowledging that there was indeed error, “mistakes were made,” of which the speaker has no knowledge. No one can name the players; the scandal would have been impossible to detect; and any groups who complained were just to dumb to understand the rules.

John Fund also notes that Washington’s political culture is resistant to accountability. Failure is rarely punished and at times is even rewarded. For the rest of us who feel the agency should be flushed out, wrongdoers punished and rules firmly established so it never happens again, the failure to hold the employees who are responsible accountable is the ultimate insult.

I Took Monday Off! by The Elephant's Child

Sorry about the absence of blogging yesterday. A graduation in the family. Lovely to see all those happy young faces, to hear what they’ve accomplished and where they are going next. A future math teacher, a hopeful singer (good voice), three future ballerinas, a cellist, and one headed for a school of Midwifery, among others. We wish them all the very best.

Nice ceremony, smaller school, lots of ‘follow your passion’ and way too much ‘social justice.’

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