Watering down the buck

Editor note: Commentary by nature writer Rybaak on the nature of the dollar.

Used to be money was worth something. Made of gold or silver, or at least backed by them, it had intrinsic value, spawning the old saw Money doesn't grow on trees. Unfortunately, now-a-days it does!

You see, American dollars - and the rest of the world's currencies - are like leaves. Oh sure, they have some fancy art and portraits of dead presidents or Ben Franklin on them, but they're still a product of trees. But unlike leaves, whose life cycles are regulated by nature's seasons, paper is man-made, any-where, anytime, and in massive quantities. As a matter of fact, from a supply and demand perspective, its unlimited availability makes the green in your purse even less valuable than leaves.

Sounds absurd, doesn't it. But think about it: leaves provide the same amount of air they always did, and when they fall, they return the same amount of nutrients to the soil as they did when Moses was a boy. Their value is consistent.

Not the American bucks. Inflation is incessantly nibbling away at it. This lesson is driven home to average Americans with each paycheck. It simply runs out sooner every week.

Producers of every-day items are feeling the pinch too, and have to pay more for everything. Their only recourse is to pass their increasing costs onto retailers who pass them on to their customers.

For instance, around October of last year, cheese bread at a popular local grocery chain cost $3.50. By December, it was up to $4. By mid January it was at $4.25.

Ditto with pet food. Last summer, during store specials, you could buy four three ounce cans of the same grocery chain's gourmet food for cats for a buck. Now you can't get a can for less than $.35 cents.

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