I remember paying $1 for a loaf of bread. That was a slice of heaven. Can you remember paying $9 for a 24 pack of toilet paper? Those were the days. Those were the days, only about a year ago. Now I need to hip-and-shoulder the other customers when the roller door of the supermarket opens just to find myself an expensive pack of biodegradable, ethical dunny roll that for some reason is already a light brown colour.
The cost of living has gone through the roof. That’s supposing you have a roof.
The cost of everyday items has skyrocketed. Filling up with petrol brings on anxiety attacks and at some point I’m going to need to work out how to harvest my own coffee beans.
What is inflation?
An Ipsos poll in February 2022, surveyed approximately 20,000 adults across 28 participating countries. The poll showed that inflation is now the 6th highest global issue that worries people (Covid naturally being the 1st). 23 out of the 28 countries (such as Australia, Great Britain, Mexico, Canada, etc) have results that show an increasing concern among its residents about inflation.
Inflation simply relates to the general rise in the price of goods and services, meaning your money isn’t worth as much as it used to. Can you remember taking $2 to the lolly shop and walking away with a big bag of mixed lollies and a packet of chips? You can’t even get minimum chips with $2 nowadays! Why? Because of inflation.
As the ABC writes, ‘Consumer prices have surged by the most in more than 20 years, with the cost of living up 5.1 per cent over the past year.’ No wonder those green grapes are costing so much. Thank goodness I don’t need to go to the hairdresser!
Inflation would not matter
All this talk about the rise of inflation would not matter one iota, if just one thing occurred: Our wages went up. And guess what? You and I, for the most part, have not had wage increases for years that matches the rise of inflation. I don’t want to divulge to you about the 7 cars I own and the 3 houses I have on the rental market, but my wage increase last year barely matched the increase in the price I pay on toilet paper every fortnight. And I haven’t even changed my diet!
Inflation wouldn’t matter if real wage growth kept up. But it doesn’t and no one seems to be doing much about it.
I work as a Salvation Army Officer, and we’re supporting local residents trying to make ends meet. And let me tell you, for many, the ends aren’t meeting, and wages are stagnant and the struggle is real. Last week, we had to tell a young woman there was no place available for her to live (after escaping a domestic violence situation), because too many others in a similar predicament were already occupying the emergency accommodation across the city.
So now, with petrol prices through the roof, due to fragile global supply chains and economic mismanagement, this lady is sleeping in her car until something becomes available.
The heart breaks. And as a follower of Jesus, my prayer is that we could do something real to help. My prayer is that we could ease the fortnightly pressures and add a little more hope and light into the world; into her world.
One thing we should do is increase wages every year to match inflation (at the very least). This would need to be a concerted effort across all industries.
Another thing we should do is lift the social security payment amounts to a level that reduces the flow on affect to non-for-profits such as The Salvation Army and Mission Australia. Governments exist to provide safety nets to our most vulnerable residents. If the net has holes in it, the government need to patch them up.
At the moment, many of us are crying out: Would someone please pay me a decent wage?
If we don’t act on wage growth quickly, while inflation continues to rise, we’re going to see deflation; not of the economy, but a deflating of people’s hope, vision and aspirations to want to keep getting up in the morning and making a difference in the world.
Pete Brookshaw is the Senior Minister of The Salvation Army Craigieburn. He has a Bachelor of both Business and Theology and is passionate about the church being dynamic and effective in the world and creating communities of faith that are outward-focused, innovative, passionate about the lost and committed to societal change. He has been blogging since 2006 at http://www.petebrookshaw.com about leadership and faith and you can find him on:
Peter Brookshaw’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/peter-brookshaw.html