The average price of a pound of ground beef climbed to another record high — $4.235 per pound — in the United States in January, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
In August 2014, the average price for a pound of all types of ground beef topped $4 for the first time, hitting $4.013, according to the BLS.
Ground beef isn't exactly a luxury good, and for people looking to feed a family, it's pretty much a staple.
After the gas prices fell recently, the federal government and state governments started suggesting that now is the time to raise gas taxes. If they didn't raise taxes, we were told, people would just waste their money by spending it on things like hamburger casserole for working-class children. Some people might even pay off some debts. What a disaster that would be, they figured. Time to raise taxes.
Of course, ground beef and gasoline are just two goods. No one can know, least of all some economist at the BLS, what all prices will be doing six months from now or even one day from now. The amount of presumption about the economy required to decide that a drop in one thing's price will mean people have "extra" money indefinitely is truly awe-inspiring. In real life, the economy is a complex thing, and the proper policy response to the drop in the price of something is not to skim off the top whatever tiny surplus families of modest means might manage to scrape together. The "surplus" may needed to go to some other necessity, and it's impossible to predict how or when that will happen.