In an attempt to illustrate how tough inflation is making it for the ordinary American family to get by these days, CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro went grocery shopping with an ordinary American family, the Stotlers of Cannondale, Kennedale, Texas, who are being pinched by inflation. (Update: Sure sounded like "Cannondale" to me, and I don't even own an expensive bike)

The Stotlers seem like a pretty nice family, with their nine kids, because don't most American families in 2021 have nine kids? We guess 11 people in a family is pretty close to the national average of 3.15 members, so good enough for CNN. Let's watch this perfectly atypical family make sense of all the terrible inflation that's happening these days. Listen carefully, because we have a feeling some of the numbers these nice folks rattle off just might be the teensiest bit inaccurate, starting with the figures highlighted in this tweet from CNN "New Day" host Brianna Keilar:

Mom Krista Stotler explains that just keeping the family in milk is costing a fortune, because "A gallon of milk was $1.99. Now it's $2.79. When you buy 12 gallons a week times four weeks, that's a lot of money."


That led to a bit of skepticism about just how typical the Stotlers' milk consumption is, because again, they have far more kids than most families. And where was this $1.99 milk they were buying, anyway? Smart-aleck historian Kevin Kruse noted that milk hasn't been anywhere near $1.99 in 25 years, although the price, as adjusted for inflation, has actually decreased over the that time:

A couple other folks chimed in to point out that, during the pandemic, milk sometimes sold for as little as $1.99 a gallon where they were, but that's hardly a normal price for milk, either, and that teenaged boys can indeed put away nearly a gallon of milk a day, because teen boys, like other space aliens, often have unearthly metabolisms.

Still, we can't help but think that some of the figures reported by the Stotler family may not be altogether accurate. At one point, Krista Stotler estimated that in June, a dollar was worth a dollar, but now, five months later, it's only worth about 70 cents. That sure doesn't sound right to us! Now, I am no good at math, but I asked on the Twitter machine, and people who are good at math agreed that for that to be the case, the inflation rate would be about 42.9 percent.

Also, we checked the Labor Department's inflation calculator, which only covers up to September, and it says that you'd have to spend $1.01 in September to equal the buying power of a June 2021 dollar. But maybe the value of a dollar collapsed a lot more in the last two months!

We see the Stotlers shopping carefully and clipping coupons, and again, we understand it's hard to make ends meet, not only when global supply chains are still being worked out, but at the best of times. This is absolutely not one of those stories about how we can't tax the rich because ordinary folks need $10K a month for entertaining. But it might be nice if there were just a little bit of fact-checking.

Following the shopping trip, Ms. Stotler says that the groceries that cost her $310 this week would have cost only "$150, $200" back in March, which again, would be an insanely high rate of inflation — not quite the hyperinflation of Germany in 1923, but nothing like September's inflation rate of 5.4 percent over the last year. And at no point does McMorris-Santoro mention the actual inflation rate, or even gently suggest that Ms. Stotler might be a little off in her estimates.

And again, we're not accusing her of lying at all here — if anything, it simply illustrates that most people have only a vague sense of what prices and inflation mean. I know I only think about the price of a gallon of milk when a politician has no idea what it is.

And as another smart cookie (cookies are too expensive to even think about these days) pointed out, the piece might also have explained that families these days — even teensy little families with one to three kids — have had some help, since the expanded family tax credit went into effect in June. That means the Stotlers should be getting $250 a month for any kids aged six to 17, or $300 a month for each child under six (at least for their own eight kids; they do mention they're caring for one kiddo "in kind of a foster situation," which sounds like an informal arrangement, we dunno). With a minimum of $2000 a month in child tax credits, you can buy an awful lot of milk, even at the criminal price of $2.79 a gallon.

In a later tweet (just not the video!) Keilar explained that

The child tax credit has been essential for them and they're very thankful for it. It spared mom and dad from taking on second jobs and helped offset the rising cost of food, gas and utilities, but they're still feeling the squeeze on their grocery bill.

So that's a very good thing to leave out, for sure.

In conclusion, why hasn't Joe Biden done anything to help ordinary people, huh?

OPEN THREAD!

[Brianna Keilar on Twitter / Bureau of Labor statistics]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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