- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Many people puzzle over the erratic and often mystifying price increases in the grocery store. The Government Accountability Office is trying to make some sense of it all.

“From 2021 to 2022, retail food prices in the U.S. — the food prices consumers see at grocery and other food stores — rose 11%, the largest annual increase in over 40 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Agriculture. In contrast, retail food prices had generally increased by an average of 2% per year from 2013 to 2022,” the federal agency said in a 16-page report released Tuesday.

“Many factors that affect the food supply chain can affect retail food prices. Such factors include global trade issues, weather events and climate change, animal and plant disease, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict. It is difficult to determine the individual effect of any one factor on retail food prices, according to USDA officials and experts GAO interviewed,” the agency said.

The report gets into the details, including things like animal feed and fertilizer costs, consumer demand, and even packaging and material shortages. There was input from eight federal agencies.

Find the report — and many others — at GAO.gov.

The food-price report was conducted at the behest of Republican Reps. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota and Adrian Smith of Nebraska, according to GAO.


Is old-school patriotism and faith fading from the American mindset? A new Wall Street Journal poll that asked respondents to rank the importance of 10 different values offers insight.

The most important value in the nation was “hard work,” cited by 94%, followed by “self-fulfillment” (cited by 91%), “tolerance of others” (90%), “money” (90%) and “community involvement” (80%).

“Patriotism” was cited by 73%, “marriage” by 70%; “belief in God” and “having children” were both cited by 65% of the respondents; and “religion” by 60%. Surprisingly enough, 68% said they were either “very” or “pretty” happy.

See the Poll du Jour for other findings from this poll.


The Heritage Foundation has released what the organization calls “its most comprehensive set of policy recommendations for how America should respond to the threat from the Chinese Communist Party.”

The special report is titled “Winning the New Cold War: A Plan for Countering China.” It includes insight from two dozen foreign policy, legal, military, economic and energy experts.

Heritage breaks new ground with the 119-page report, describing the ends, ways, and means to secure America’s future while confronting the greatest external threat the U.S. has faced since the collapse of the Soviet Union,” the organization stated.

“It is time to acknowledge reality: The United States is in a new Cold War with China. It is past time for a strategy — for a whole-of-government and whole-of-society effort — that serves American interests and protects the American people and economy from malicious actions by the Chinese Communist Party. This is not the end of the work, but only just the beginning,” said Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts in a written statement.

The report was edited by James J. Carafano, Michael Pillsbury, Jeff M. Smith and Andrew J. Harding — all affiliated with The Heritage Foundation, which can be found at Heritage.org.


Fox News finished the first quarter of 2023 as the most-watched network on cable TV in both prime time and throughout the day, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Yes, Fox News bested such non-news rivals such as ESPN and HGTV as well as its direct rivals. In prime time, Fox News drew an average of 2.1 million daily viewers, compared with MSNBC with 1.1 million and CNN with 478,000. This is the 85th straight quarter that Fox has been top dog. In addition, the network also aired 98 of the top 100 telecasts in cable news.

The powerhouse of the bunch is “The Five,” which airs daily at 5 p.m. and averages 3.3 million viewers. Also of note: Nightly host Laura Ingraham has an audience of 2 million — and remains “the most-watched woman in cable news,” according to the network.


Report cards could be canceled.

“To help new students adapt, some colleges are eliminating grades,” reports NPR, which has deemed the practice a “growing movement” in the nation’s institutions of higher learning.

“Called ‘un-grading,’ the idea is meant to ease the transition to higher education — especially for freshmen who are the first in their families to go to college or who weren’t well prepared for college-level work in high school and need more time to master it. But advocates say the most important reason to adopt un-grading is that students have become so preoccupied with grades, they aren’t actually learning,” NPR explained.

The momentum behind the phenomenon are concerns about “student mental health,” according to the report, which cited evidence from surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center and Boston University.

Some are not in complete agreement here.

“To tell me that these students are too fragile at age 18 or 19 for their educators to actually give them feedback on what they’ve learned or what they’ve mastered strikes me as missing a pretty significant element of the purpose of higher education,” said Frederick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

“Things like grades and clear assignments can be enormously useful handrails to help you make your way,” Mr. Hess told NPR.


• 28% of U.S. adults say that the cost of living is rising and creating major financial strain for them.

• 32% say the cost of living is rising and creating minor financial strain for them.

• 32% say the cost of living is not a problem for them now, but will become one if costs keep going up.

• 6% say they are not concerned with the cost of living.

• 1% skipped the question or refused to answer.

SOURCE: A Wall Street Journal/NORC poll of 1,019 U.S. adults conducted March 1-13 and released Tuesday.

• Follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.

• Jennifer Harper can be reached at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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