Inflation 2

Inflation 2

A teen of the seventies and new adult in the early eighties, this blogger’s movie watching peaked then. What famous flicks we had in those times—Rocky (1976), Grease (1978), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) . . . Star Wars (1977), for crying out loud. All of these films quickly spawned sequels, which were just as popular as the originals, or even more so.

But there was something else we saw in that 1970s/early 1980s era that only now is giving rise to a sequel, and that is the horror film called Inflation. U.S. inflation is at a 40-year high, which is the loftiest since Tootsie and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (both 1982) were in theaters. Like the latter two movies, some shows are better left without a sequel. In fact, we saw this inflation movie before, we did not enjoy it then, we did not like the plot, we did not admire the characters, and we would rather it not have been remade now.

While there may be differences of opinions about movies (not to mention politics), all of us likely agree we could have done without seeing Inflation 2.

Playing Politics

For a retiree, the worst thing about inflation is that you have to get a high return on your savings, or they may run out. For a wage earner, the difficulty is that you need big raises, or you are losing ground against inflation. For home buyers, mortgage rates go up. For everyone, the value of cash goes down, and money set aside for big purchases, vacations, or education no longer is sufficient during inflationary times.

For our federal politicians, the worst thing about inflation may be getting blamed for it. That is why those in charge—right now, the Democrats—feel the need to deny there is a serious inflation problem, or at least to appear to have inflation under control. And the motive for the party not running the government—the Republicans today—is to assign fault and to insinuate that things will be better if only they were in charge.

Knowing that approval ratings do not look good for him right now, President Biden’s political strategy is to give the impression he is busy trying to tame inflation, while simultaneously arguing that everyone but him has caused it. Recently, he submitted an article, which the Wall Street Journal published, titled “My Plan for Fighting Inflation.”

After seven paragraphs claiming that things actually are going amazingly well economically in America and that “Putinflation” and other factors produced any imperfections, the article turns to the Biden “plan,” which contains three components: (1) the true but unplan-like statement that “the Federal Reserve has a primary responsibility to control inflation,” coupled with his promise not to interfere; (2) a reiteration of past actions or proposals the Biden Administration has taken or suggested, none of which have helped much; (3) generalities that seem impossible to accomplish. The entire article appears to have been written so President Biden can say he offered a plan and then, when inflation does not go away, the Republicans or others can be criticized.

Similarly, calls by politicians (including the president and various governors) to suspend federal gas taxes, which currently are 18.4 cents per gallon, appear designed to win votes more than actually to reduce inflation. So, too, the president’s desperate trip this week to Saudi Arabia, which is unlikely to cut gas prices, let alone overall inflation.*

*In our We’re Talking About Gas Prices? (March 22, 2022) post, this blog pointed out that today’s high fuel prices are not the fault of President Biden. Our earlier post, Inflation (December 14, 2021), did assert that excessive government “stimulus” programs have contributed to inflationary pressures.

Meanwhile, Republican attempts to exploit inflation for political gain and to pretend they have plans to control it after they win the mid-term elections, are no better.

Inflation largely is an economic phenomenon, not a political one.

Inflation and Gas Prices Aren’t the Only Things Rising

We read recently that 70 percent of Americans identify inflation as the most important issue our country faces today. That must be true, because, of our 90-some blog posts on the Principle Based Politics website, by far and away the two getting the most internet search hits have been the above-referenced pieces on inflation and gas prices.

From a political point of view, however, what we find most telling are the comments some of these readers have left, particularly on the hot-button gas prices topic. From assurances that President Biden “absolutely is to blame” for high gas prices and that anyone who thinks otherwise is an “absolute moron,” to equally strong—even capitalized!—insistence that “President Biden is NOT to blame,” emotions are rising as well.

After you have watched this inflation sequel long enough, we would love to see your new comments below. It seems that anyone who comes up with a truly helpful suggestion for how to end inflation stands a good chance of being the next President of the United States. Perhaps a new movie is in the making…

Written by Quentin R. Wittrock, founder of Principle Based Politics. 

Look for his posts each week, as this blog will explore and promote the idea of principle in politics, both as to individual elected leaders and our federal government as an institution.

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