WCD Times – The 99 percent has watched gas prices follow a perpetual climb that has left consumers wallowing at the pump. By the beginning of April, the national average was $3.92. Though it’s since fallen about 18 cents for most regions, the west coast is still staring at billboards offering $4.37 a gallon.
Fuel isn’t the only cost crippling middle-class Americans. While the consumer price index (CPI) may be relatively unchanged on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Wall Street Journal says core inflation is rising – and the Federal Reserve can’t ignore that for long.
Core inflation, an estimate excluding food and energy costs, rose in April for the eighth time in the past 11 months. The increase in core inflation can be pinned on the typical products and services, which are primarily the ones we can’t live without.
“CPI numbers report annual spikes in the usual suspects: rent, used cars, air fares and medical services. As higher and higher prices meet stagnant income levels, Americans lose their purchasing power,” says Joe Kalfa, founder of All Our Power (AOP). AOP is a growing social movement seeking to create the world’s largest group purchasing organization with free membership.
Group purchasing gives individuals a platform to negotiate with megacorporations, and AOP wants to put purchasing power back into consumer hands.
As more people join the movement, AOP aims to secure discounts and membership benefits for a variety of consumer products – car rentals, health insurance, cell phone plans, groceries and maybe even gas.
The trend in Groupon-style buying shows marked interest in discount opportunities. The Occupy protests made income inequality a national issue, but purchasing power is still diminishing.
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, average personal income rose from 2009 to 2010. However, the richest 1 percent of Americans received 90 percent of that growth. More recently, MarketWatch reported that hourly earnings flat lined, and when adjusted for inflation, wages actually dropped.
As a result, U.S. News Weekly says big retailers like Costco and Target saw sales below expectations. With two eyes glued to income inequality and consumer unrest, AOP may offer a solution for individuals who are tired of unreasonable prices.