Posts Tagged ‘economy’

Question: What is the one thing in common about the constant stream of bad economic news produced during the Biden Administration and the constant stream of good economic news produced during the Trump Administration?

#unexpectedlytm of course,

Photo by Yassine Khalfalli on Unsplash

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – I am no economist and so would have poor skills in predicting where this incredible inflation will end, but man, it has got to end somewhere.

When I retired from teaching a year and a half ago, my pension was comfortable. Now? It doesn’t go nearly as far as it did then. That’s why when my church needed a part-time receptionist in the office, I took it on. I figured the extra money would ease the pain. And then, when they asked me to add another day and work four days a week, I agreed to that, too.  Picking up that extra four or five days a month looked good. Now I’m thinking I need to ramp up my paid writing sideline a bit and earn even more.

We just returned from a trip to Iowa where my husband’s family lives. From Louisiana, we usually spend about $200 to $250 in gas there and back each year. This year it was literally double, costing us right at $100 every time we filled up. On top of that, rising food prices are causing pain at the grocery store, too. Across the nation, more and more people are looking for supplemental income. According to the Washington Post, “the percentage of employed people working multiple jobs in the United States has steadily increased since March 2020 from 4 percent in April 2020 to 4.8 percent in June 2022…”.  That percentage seems somewhat low to me.

In Iowa, where we just spent a week, we were in the south-central region. I know there are very liberal pockets in Iowa, but there are plenty of conservatives, too, and we met a lot of them. I saw one lady in the grocery store wearing a t-shirt that said, “Buck Joe Fiden.” Uh, okay. I saw a lot of Trump flags, and I saw zero Biden signs although I know there are Biden supporters there.

The chatter I heard at baseball games, in the stores, and in the shops were all full of angst at the state of the economy. My husband’s family is a farming family with a generational farm. The cost of fuel to run tractors and trucks is just crippling and many farmers will not make it because of this. It is devastating in the Midwest.

Like I said, I’m not sure where all this will end up, or who will be left standing when it’s over, if it is ever over, but I, for one, am working double time to get debts paid off and sock something back before everything implodes. I have one friend, an older lady who has seen some things in her day, who is selling off assets and putting up cash. She is downsizing, selling off jewelry with no sentimental meaning, putting up cold cash whenever she can. “I’m scared,” she told me. “I’ve never seen it like this, and I’m scared.” She is not usually this reactive.

She’s not wrong.

By: Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Random, unconnected thoughts and observations:

HOT: As I write this, it is literally 104 degrees in Shreveport with a heat index of 106. I know it’s summer, but we don’t usually get this kind of heat until August. And rain? What’s that? When I open my door, it is literally like walking outside into a blast furnace. Meh.

HATE: And on the subject of suffering, you might think with the heat driving me indoors, I could take refuge in the mindless distraction of social media. Nope. That’s no place I want to be right now. There’s a lot of hate out there these days, folks. A lot of hate. I’m staying all the way away from that.

PAYWALLS: Am I the only person who gets frustrated by paywalls? I know, we need to pay for good journalism. But I’m talking about The Advocate, for crying out loud! I tried to read three articles today and they are all behind a paywall. I don’t care enough to find a workaround right now.

FUEL: We are preparing for our annual trip to the great Midwest next week to visit husband’s family. And we drive. From Louisiana to Iowa. There and back, we anticipate gas to be $400 of our budget. That is insane. IN.  SANE. Needless to say, we won’t be making the side trips we usually do, like going to see minor league baseball or going out to eat. Bummer.

BOOKS: My reading has slacked off for some unknown reason. I just finished an historical fiction novel, The Tobacco Wives, that was mediocre. The best books I’ve read lately have been nonfiction. Bayou Farewell by Mike Tidwell was awesome. Beautifully written. I’m currently reading Antagonists in the Church and it’s making some valid points. I’m ready for a good, thick Stephen King novel to entertain me. Something I don’t have to think too hard about in this dang heat.

CRIME: If you’re trying to keep up (and why should you, really?) we continue to have at least one shooting a day here in Shreveport; we have thirty homicides so far. The saddest part is that by far the majority of those are teenagers and early twenties. Young people. And no, I don’t blame guns. I blame the poor economy, the lack of opportunity, the lack of a moral compass, lack of ethics, high poverty, much despair. Nothing to lose. Sad.

TELEVISION: Guilty confession – I don’t watch much TV, but when we aren’t watching baseball, our TV is usually tuned to FETV where we watch old stuff. I’ve seen every single Andy Griffith, Hazel, Beverly Hillbillies, Emergency!, and Perry Mason. Every. Single. One. Not sure I’m proud of this.

PUBLIC ART: Oh hey, and if you missed it, check out the new public art installation in New Orleans now that all those pesky monuments are gone. I don’t think this is behind the paywall.

Stay cool, y’all. Peace out.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – A few days ago on this blog, datechguy wrote about a favorite local business that was a casualty of the Biden economy:

In the grand scheme of things it’s just one more business that has gone under thanks to the Biden Administration Economy and the steal of the last election. It’s just a few more jobs lost by people who worked there for decades, it’s just one more person whose decades of hard work building a business has gone for naught. Nobody in Washington will note it, it will not make the NY Time or the Washington Post or the TV news nor will those in the administration which insists we have a booming economy notice that it is gone.

Y’all. I could have written this myself because the same thing happened to me this week and I know it’s happening all over the country. I know it is.

One of my favorite local businesses is Champagne’s Bakery located in Henderson, Louisiana on the edge of the Atchafalaya Basin. The business began 134 years ago in Breaux Bridge and is known for their French bread which they sell wholesale to a large percentage of restaurants in the Acadiana region. At the bakery in Henderson, when the bread is fresh and hot, a flashing light like a siren will spin wildly on their sign. It’s a landmark!

Champagne’s (pronounced SHAM-pines)  is known for their trademark “pink cookies.” They are about the size of a quarter and are little sandwich cookies with icing as the filling. They are just the right size to pop into your mouth whole. During Mardi Gras they make them in purple and green; during football season you can get them in LSU purple and gold or Ragin’ Cajuns red. But always there are pink ones. They are delicious!

When the bakery announced on social media last week that they were closing, a large number of shocked commentors lamented the loss of the pink cookie.

A local radio station reached out to the owner for an explanation:

Paul said that, like most places, the bakery took a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Business slowed, but Paul said it wasn’t terrible.

The bakery was still recovering from the pandemic and things were looking pretty good until, he says,  the economy began to turn.

When I pressed him for more, he said that inflation is killing the business.

3 years ago, Paul was paying around $15 for a case of eggs. Today, he is paying around $60. A few years ago, shortening for the baker cost Paul about $28 for shortening. Today, that same package of shortening sets him back $90.

Who can survive increases like that?!

Not to mention that when we were there two weeks ago, they were having trouble getting supplies in because of trucking woes. Their suppliers couldn’t get their goods to them. Smaller trucking companies are having to lay people off and make adjustments of their own; look at the diesel prices to figure that one out.

So, yes, I’m mad that I’m losing my favorite bakery. I’m even more mad that another, yet ANOTHER, local mom ‘n pop business is going under, a casualty of the Biden economy. But what really bothers me is where this is going to end. The WalMarts are going to survive. They’ll be here forever. Most of your chain restaurants are going to survive too. But soon you’re going to lose the local flavor, and even part of the culture, of what makes your area unique.

You’ll have to participate in hyper-capitalism to get anything done, to buy goods and materials, to eat.

Our local diners, those that are left, are struggling. They’re raising prices, they’re closing a couple of days a week, they’re struggling to find employees. They have to take what they can get from the labor force and it’s often lackluster.

I diverge from my point a bit, but really, where is this going to end?

In The Advocate this morning was an article about struggling shrimpers; fishing is a major source of livelihood for people in south Louisiana but rising fuel prices are contributing to the demise of that for a lot of fishermen.

Where does it all end? What will out economy and our culture look like at the end of this?

The loss of our local bakeries, restaurants, diners, and shops will soon mean our country is generic from one end to the other. You won’t be able to tell New Orleans from San Francisco.

Maybe I exaggerate, but not by much.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and at Medium; she is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.