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Davis Journal

CYCLOPS: Economic success is our own responsibility

Jun 17, 2021 01:15PM ● By Bryan Gray

George Bernard Shaw once said, “If all economists were laid end to end, they still wouldn’t reach a conclusion.”

Like most readers of this column, I’m not an economist.  However, I do understand some simple principles.  The Republicans are correct when they claim that, like an individual, a country cannot run massive deficits forever.  The Democrats are correct when they say an economy cannot flourish unless average families have money to spend, thereby increasing jobs and helping the wealthy increase business and investment profits.  The Libertarians are partially right when they believe the “free market” will correct some economic flaws with supply and demand, though I fear giving big business the ability to smother small-volume entrepreneurs.

Of course, most people don’t worry much about national or regional economic models. “Economy” to them is what hits home: the steadily increasing price of homes and rent, hourly wage increases, higher grocery and gasoline prices and local job supply.  

Everyone has their own take. Conservatives complain that government unemployment checks are keeping people from accepting jobs…One of my clients is convinced that inflation should be blamed on liberals limiting oil exploration…Another friend, who majored in economics, says inflation will be minimal once the “supply chain” becomes unclogged and products like computer chips can be shipped to manufacturers.  (He says it takes up to 8,000 trucks to haul cargo from a container ship.)

My best analysis of the economy is to dive down into the challenges of individual men and women.

I’ll illustrate the case of a 28-year-old son of a family friend.  The son earns $18 an hour, which is not enough for him to move out of his parents’ basement. With a modest car payment and health insurance, he says he cannot afford rent at a decent apartment, and he cannot find any homes available for less than $210,000.  In his view, the economy isn’t working to his benefit, and he grumbles that “the rich” create barriers for men and women like him.

I’m sorry, but I cannot sympathize.  “Now Hiring” signs now outnumber summer mosquitoes, hourly wages in May increased about 6%, and one national bank is promising a starting wage of $25 per hour in just two years.  Instead of mumbling about “obscene gas prices”and “greedy landlords and property managers,” the young man should do what I (and many of you) did when we were young: work a part-time second job.