That official 5.4% is a joke. Every week, the food prices rise exponentially. The markets now correct the prices with a pen so last week’s salmon at $23 a pound is easily converted with a stroke of the pen to today’s $28. (Last year it was $18.) Everything that comes in a box now contains many fewer ounces, but the price still goes up. I walked out of a market because a head of broccoli was $4.99 only to find it was $5.99 at the next market I tried. And we’re back to the toilet paper chase, as most of those shelves are perpetually empty. Sometimes the problem of empty shelves at places like CVS is the rampant theft that the managers are helpless to stop and find stopping is anyway futile as here in NYC. The thieves are back on the streets thieving again within hours. (A pickpocket caught at Rockefeller Center had been caught at it THIRTY-SEVEN TIMES before but was immediately released with no bail for the 38th.) We’re descending into Third Worldness faster than I ever dreamed possible.