Let’s talk turkey: Lawmakers and rising cost of birds

Recently, people from all walks of life – from the many faiths, races and ethnicities who inhabit this country – gathered to give thanks, grateful for their blessings of the last year.

In previous years, they might have given thanks for health, for family, for children, for grandchildren, for employment, and for that special hope or dream that was unexpectedly realized. This year, they had to give thanks that their turkey dinner with all the trimmings didn’t break the bank.

Like everything else, Tom Turkey’s risen in price, up by a record high 20% over last year, according to the American Farm Bureau. The average meal for 10, the Farm Bureau says, cost about $64, which may not seem like a lot to some people but, at just under $6.50 a person, it’s considerably more than people are used to paying.

That pumpkin pie on the table? Inflation’s eating into it faster than Uncle Ed when he raids the refrigerator. Never before in the group’s 37-year history of tracking the price of what is usually found on the Thanksgiving table have prices risen so quickly in so short a time.

Who’s to blame? The Farm Bureau says it’s the continuing increase in inflation of up 12% on the most recent Consumer Price Index numbers regarding food consumed at home.

“Farmers are working hard to meet growing demands for food — both here in the U.S. and globally — while facing rising prices for fuel, fertilizer and other inputs,” said Roger Cryan, Farm Bureau chief economist – and we should all be thankful they are. They’re not responsible for the rise in prices.

Neither are the truckers who bring the turkeys and boxes of stuffing and loaves of bread and sweet potatoes and the bags of those tiny marshmallows, without which no holiday table is complete. Or the hardworking people who stock the shelves and ring up your purchases in the checkout line while wishing you a “Happy Holiday!”

The hike in prices also isn’t the fault of the people who own and manage the stores that sell us the dinner fixings or run the distribution centers and the freight companies that move products from one place to another.

No, the ones responsible are the turkeys in Washington DC who keep spending your money like it was their own. Inflation is caused by too much money chasing too few goods and services. Higher demands fuel higher prices.

How did all that money get into circulation? The Fed printed it so Congress could spend it on the American Rescue Plan and other so-called relief programs that paid people not to work and producers not to produce from what was left over after the scammers and ripoff artists got who knows how many tens or hundreds of millions of your hard-earned tax dollars.

Then there’s the effort to eliminate oil and natural gas from the receipt for American energy that’s raised the cost of everything from the industrial processes required to produce the food items we expect to enjoy to the price of the diesel fuel consumed to bring it to your local grocers – if it’s available.

Lawmakers don’t want you to put all the pieces together. Policymakers would prefer you focus on the ceremonial presidential pardon of the Christmas turkeys so they can continue to blame greedy businessmen for the fact you had to pinch pennies on your holiday meal while they dined like the Middle Eastern potentates of old.

Don’t be fooled. The cost of the food has everything to do with how you voted. It’s important to think about the role policy made in Washington has on the aspects of everyday life. Some people call it “pocketbook economics.” Others call it just common sense. In either case, it’s important to keep at least in the back of your mind how the policies made by the politicians work against you.

Hopefully, it will different next year, when you gather around the same table to give thanks for your blessings once again – that is if higher rents and rising interest rates haven’t forced you to move to a new place by then.

Peter Roff is a media fellow at the Trans-Atlantic Leadership Network, a former columnist for U.S. News and World Report, and senior political writer for United Press International. Contact Roff at RoffColumns@gmail.com.