“If people are so mad about high prices, why do they keep buying so many expensive things?” wonders Annie Lowrey in an Atlantic piece headlined, “Inflation Is Your Fault.”
Well, I assume demand remains high because individuals work and save to purchase things they need and like for themselves and their families — even when they’re mad about the price. We’re not automatons, after all.
Indeed, we should be happy that consumers continue to buy “so many expensive things.” Because imagine what a collective national effort to purposely buy less stuff looks like. Such an effort would cost millions of jobs — many of them tied to the holiday spending. If we suddenly stopped buying, Democrats wouldn’t be able to go on about the allegedly strong employment market, which has yet to recover the pre-pandemic labor participation rate.
But, yes, we are to blame for inflation, for a different reason.
“Three years ago,” Lowrey writes, “the pandemic gnarled supply chains around the world, leading to shortages of many consumer goods.”
No, governments gnarled supply chains around the world by panicking and shutting down economic activity, leading to shortages of consumer goods while doing virtually nothing to curtail the spread of Covid. Both Republicans and Democrats participated. In numerous cases, perhaps most, these unilateral state interventions were unprecedented authoritarian attacks on people’s livelihoods and liberties.
Then the government started indiscriminately mailing out debt-backed checks to individuals. Since, in large part, the state had created the crisis, it made some sense that the state should help those struggling to stay afloat. But rather than sending taxpayer dollars to affected industries to save individual jobs — and health insurance coverage and pensions — government sent checks to those who had lost their jobs and those who hadn’t.
Then, as the economy began to open, Democrats, with the help of some Republicans, began to push more Keynesian “stimulus” policies, spending on programs we didn’t need with money we didn’t have. Voters love free money. And stupid ideas never die.
At the same time, Joe Biden signed a slew of executive actions undermining domestic production of energy to save the planet from an imaginary threat. The market reacted to this reality — the coming regulations, not the coming climate — and energy prices began to rise.
Then responsible economists began warning that throwing trillions more into a hot economy would exacerbate existing inflationary pressure. Democrats dismissed them. You remember how inflation was just “transitory”? Biden told Americans that “no serious economist” was “suggesting there’s unchecked inflation on the way.”
Democrats and media engaged in a concerted political effort to deflect the problem long enough to cram through a massive progressive agenda using reconciliation — which is to say, without any national consensus or debate. Rising prices were just a “high-class problem,” Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain explained.
When inflation became nontransitory and politically problematic, the Biden administration argued that the prescription was even more cowbell. Democrats renamed their corporate welfare, price-fixing, tax-hike “Build Back Better” bill the “Inflation Reduction Act” and went back to work. The president told us that project “costs zero dollars.” It passed. Democrats continued winning races.
Finally, when unchecked inflation could no longer be ignored, Democrats revved up the Marxist class-war conspiracies about “price gouging” and “corporate greed.” Now, I guess, we’re also blaming selfish American consumers who undermine the country’s future by buying a new car.
Debt, spending, and inflation are all the culmination of long-term irresponsible behavior, compounded by many administrations and Congresses. If voters keep putting the same people into office — the ones who botched budgets, and Covid, and recoveries, and pretty much everything else — then yes, you’re also at fault.