The problem is if one item spikes in price, we quit buying it. In addition, inflation indexes cannot account for product innovation and quality increases.
Liberal writers look back to 1973 as a year when real wages supposedly peaked -- just before a nasty bout of inflation. But back then, a pocket calculator cost $110. The smartphone you can buy today for $200 has a calculator and hundreds of other devices.
If you get out beyond the Beltway to Middle America, you find supermarkets with wonderful produce and big box stores with amazing variety, all at prices that are astonishingly low. You can eat well and dress stylishly at prices far below what elites in places like Washington and New York are accustomed to paying. In many ways, people with modest incomes have a significantly better standard of living than they did four decades ago.
The recoil in 2010 against the Obama Democrats' vast expansion of the size and scope of government seems to have a cultural or a moral dimension as well. It was a vote, as my Washington Examiner colleague Timothy P. Carney wrote last week, expressing "anger at those unfairly getting rich -- at the taxpayer's expense."
Those include well-connected Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs that got bailed out and giant corporations like General Electric that shape legislation so they can profit. They include the public employee unions who have bribed politicians to grant them pensions and benefits unavailable to most Americans.
A government intertwined with the private sector inevitably picks winners and losers. It allows well-positioned insiders to game the system for private gain. It bails out the improvident and sticks those who made prudent decisions with the bill.
Modest-income Americans think this is wrong. They want it fixed more than they want a few more bucks in their paychecks.