by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
“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.