Just when you thought the Opinion page would be a safe space.... well, I’m back, for a couple more weeks at least.

And I am extremely grateful for it.

The news that The INDEX and PRESS•STANDARD would continue publishing after a last second push was nothing short of a miracle. One that soothed the worst of the guilt and sadness my family was feeling after the decision was made to close the paper.

The thought of leaving Newman and Gustine without newspapers that are centered on local issues, that celebrate what is so special about the West Side, was beyond heartbreaking. On every level.

But that just made this turn of events even more of a blessing, and quite frankly a miracle.

It’s a best possible outcome.

And we can all use more of those these days.

So, thank you for putting up with me for a few more weeks.

Maybe I can rile a few more feathers... fingers crossed.

It’s gonna be a pricey summer.

Strolling through the grocery store for my weekly shopping trip has been an adventure in budgeting... and spending.

I try to be economical, watching sales inserts and visiting my usual three stores to get everything on my list at a price that won’t get me in trouble with my husband.

Even with my efforts I have watched our disposable income dwindle steadily as gas and food prices continue to climb.

Never have I been more thankful to live in a state where gas prices aren’t astronomical. It’s amazing how quickly one can get used to paying less than $2.00 a gallon for gas, I actually caught myself complaining about paying less than $3.00... which stopped after I checked in with friends back home. Definitely something I don’t miss about the Golden State.

But the hits don’t stop.

Even in red states.

There’s supply issues, transportation issues, labor issues and monetary issues. Commodity prices are soaring, labor markets are wonky with federal unemployment benefits outpacing pay scales and a Federal Reserve who thinks it’s its job to protect the elites from their follies and failures.

All of it leads to a squeezing of the middle class from every direction.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland Research Division, which looks at economic data and trends and research, released data Tuesday showing Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) Inflation has “over the past year jumped to its highest levels in more than a decade” reaching 3.9% in May.

The Fed was quick to add that median PCE inflation was steady at 2% for the third month in a row. So take heart citizens... that higher price isn’t really climbing monthly if you just take the average.

I’m guessing offering the median price for daily essentials like bread and meat won’t cut it in the checkout line. At least where I shop.

And don’t forget, spot market pricing at the pump this holiday weekend is an outlier, not a sign of onerous regulation, policy choices and taxes.

Nope, couldn’t be any of that.

A full 25% of the money currently in circulation in our country was printed after March 2020. Four Trillion dollars of middle class wealth was transferred to the 1% since the start of lockdowns, and digital retail space has been completely captured by the big guys. Big Pharma is laughing all the way to the bank, with record profits underwritten by U.S. taxpayers.

The money machine isn’t stopping folks.

It can’t.

Because if they do... well, a house of cards is on more solid ground than our national economy at this point in time.

Bank of America is predicting “that the U.S. is facing a period of ‘transitory hyperinflation’, one which could last as long as four years.”

Puts that new stimulus under the guise of the Child Tax Credit into a little better perspective, at least from the electoral point of view.

The Biden Administration’s plans for the next three years are wholly dependent on a Democrat majority House and filibuster proof majority in the Senate.

I doubt needing a payday loan to buy weekly groceries would be a selling point for the party in power.

But stranger things have happened.

I guess you could say that I’m not wearing rose colored glasses when I think about the many possible paths our nation’s immediate future could take. We have American cities devolving to anarchy and crime while home prices rise exponentially, stagnation and inflation conditions that would make the late 70s look like the roaring 20’s and a federal government apparatus that looks to finish fundamentally transforming America.

Doesn’t matter if you call it The Green New Deal, The Great Reset, CRT or The American Rescue Plan. All are Trojan Horses, and they are all inside the gates.

Most have lived as academic theory for more than twenty years.

They’ve got a nice head start, and the tools to manipulate, excuse me... coerce, wrong thinking behavior to something more progressive and utopian.

Critical Race Theory isn’t new, it’s just more profitable and visible. The Great Reset has been discussed at Davos and debated at the UN and in Brussels. I heard the same lines of argument framed as colonizers and colonized in humanities classes at UC Berkeley in the early 90s. It was just as abhorrent then as it is now.

All of the pieces were in place, ready for the proper actors to fill their roles.

And fill them they have.

But there are costs and consequences for every action. Life does not happen in a vacuum.

The undermining of America institutions for temporary political power will prove to be misguided if God or Karma has any say in the matter.

Trust in government is on a race to the bottom hand in hand with trust in the media. A recent global survey suggests only 29% of the American public trusts the media. Last I checked Congress’s approval hovered in the mid teens.

State nullification of federal law is a regular occurrence, and no one remembers who’s actually responsible for which duties. It’s how Jen Psaki can say, with a straight face, that Republicans are responsible for defunding local police by not voting for the Democrat infrastructure plan.

Public Accountability is fully tribal, and drawn along party lines.

We are seeing an actual consolidation of state power, behind an unelected Intelligence apparatus and a military that thinks it only needs to follow orders when they like the Commander in Chief.

None of these are indicators of a healthy society.

None of these make me hopeful for a Golden Age of America to suddenly rise out of a $28 Trillion and climbing national debt while simultaneously running a $3 Trillion plus national deficit.

We are seeing the obvious repercussions everywhere we look in society.

Reality matters, just not in Washington D.C.

And that won’t be changing anytime soon either.

Staff columnist Toni Butero can be reached at tbutero@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 862-2222.