TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE — For a quite a while, progressives were calling our country’s painful inflation mild and “transitory,” meaning it would last just a yawn or two and be gone.
Relax, enjoy yourself, put up with policies that just maybe strike you as insane and vote for congressional Democrats, we were told. Just one problem: Escalating price increases have persisted and could hang on for a long time, thanks in no small part to governmental curses dressed up as benevolence.
You’ve noticed all of this, I suspect. You go to the grocery store and the cost of food encourages the kind of diet no doctor would recommend. Visit a gas station and maybe you’ll decide to buy a bicycle that, sorry, could cost as much as $7,000.
Rent is going up; buying a house could put your financial future 6 feet under; and who knows what tents are selling for? Among so much else on the excessive cost list are Christmas trees.
In contemplating how seriously this inflation is already trashing our standard of living, consider these facts: Price increases were up 6.8 percent in November, the highest year-long increase seen in almost 40 years. Even some optimists see it lasting into late 2022 and some think a recession could ensue.
Well, it’s said, that’s COVID for you, and, yes, the pandemic disrupted supply chains worldwide, making it difficult to distribute products needed to maintain all kinds of businesses and retail operations in the usual way. When you have less and less to sell, you sell at higher and higher prices for survival’s sake.
But will people pay these prices sufficiently to sustain profits? Well, yes, if government has surrounded us with money enough to enable the transactions.
One way the government promotes this end is for the Federal Reserve to provide loans to banks and other institutions at interest rates so low as to enable all kinds of cheap borrowing and spending and demand. The Federal Reserve, which dismissed inflation as much as Democrats when the curtain began rising, now looks as if it might back away if far too slowly, but not President Joe Biden and fellow Democrats in Congress.
Even as we have millions of people not looking for work as another way of erasing supply, they see the answer to every economic woe you have ever heard of as spend, spend, spend. And yes, there was bipartisan congressional spending — $4 trillion worth — in 2020 to deal with pandemic-generated needs. We had to pay for such needs as vaccines, other health care and business loans even as there were fumbles aplenty.
The economy was recuperating, but next came something particularly scary, however, namely Biden’s 2021 $1.9 trillion America Rescue Plan, about as big an emergency bill the nation has ever seen, providing welfare relief of all kinds, throwing thousands of dollars at people who weren’t poor, addressing some essentials, yes, but overall an economic threat. High taxes on corporations are paid by less supply, still higher prices, fewer jobs and lower wages.
Next in line was a bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that again had good points along with bad ones, and now there is the issue of the Build Back Better fraud. Meant to fulfill an accumulation of progressive wishes over the next 10 years in one miswrought package, the House-passed legislative plan is to transform America into a semi-socialist state and questionably address the climate change challenge. The wisdom of incrementalism is dismissed for the sake of opportunism and honesty is bypassed by the supposed $2 trillion cost almost certainly working its way into $5 trillion intentions.
Proponents say the bill will do oh, so much good, but if the goal of extending programs costing extra $3 trillion is not accomplished, much of the good will be short-lived. Meanwhile, inflation is already wiping out wage increases and will worsen poverty. What’s happening right now could cost the average family $3,500 a year. How about some real compassion?
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2021 Tribune Content Agency.