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Davis Journal

Inflation is not a result of Biden’s actions

Dec 02, 2021 01:42PM ● By Bryan Gray

Our current president has been somewhat of a disappointment. He totally botched the pull-out of troops in Afghanistan, and, his age showing, he has been awful at communicating the reason for his policies. I side with the Republicans when they claim that his “Build Back Better” proposal is bloated with unnecessary spending.

But it is unfair – ludicrous, in fact – to blame him for the current inflation. Yes, certain prices are going up, partially because wages are increasing – and I don’t hear most Americans complaining about a higher paycheck. Yet polls show a majority of us are believing the GOP chorus that Biden and the Democrats are responsible for us taking a second mortgage to purchase a gallon of gasoline.

If you believe this, you don’t understand supply-and-demand economics and the impact the pandemic had on manufacturers. Granted, both Trump and Biden pumped subsidy money into a stalled economy, but instead of overheating it, the funding was necessary for millions of families facing unemployment or eviction.

Today, on a personal level, inflation is mostly seen in the rise of gasoline prices and the cost of new and used automobiles and trucks. Both are linked directly to the pandemic, not to Biden.

Gasoline has risen for the simple fact that we are driving more. The pandemic kept many of us off the roads, sequestered in home offices and unable to drive to closed restaurants. Now the highways are full again and when the demand for gas swells the price does too. We also should remember history. As columnist Froma Harrop notes, the price of a gallon of regular rose to $4.11 only 13 years ago, about 12% more than I’m paying now. 

The price hike in vehicles is similar. There are fewer new cars on dealer lots than there are beggars with signs at freeway exits. The cause is a lack of computer chips which, with the pandemic, were manufactured for personal computers and electronics used by remote workers.  Additionally, almost all the chips are made in Asia, and we all are aware of the supply chain disruption at American ports. (The fact that ships are stacking up outside California has nothing to do with Biden either. Last time I looked, he was not a Longshoreman!)

The Thanksgiving dinner you ate probably cost a bit more too. But again, as Harrop wrote in a recent column, the record-high price of $1.36 per pound equates to $22 for a 16-pound turkey. That comes to $1.22 per person or, as she writes, “put in perspective, a sausage biscuit with egg at McDonald’s costs $2.79.” Oh, and potatoes are now one-cent more per pound than last year – and if you’re regularly eating a pound of potatoes daily you have more problems than a one-penny price increase.

Christmas toys will cost more, of course. But Biden isn’t one of Santa’s workshop elves; 99% of toys come from Asia, as does most of the clothing we buy.  If we didn’t want to pay more for shipping, we should have purchased “made in America” items instead of sending jobs to Malaysia and China.

It is also ironic that Americans are demanding that Biden interfere with the free enterprise system and force prices back down when, at the same time, they and the Republicans criticize the government for intervening with the capitalistic system. Hey guys, you can’t have it both ways.

Inflation is a steady byproduct of an economy chugging along with increased wages and higher standards of living. I would love to be back in my teens when hamburgers cost a quarter and gasoline was 50 cents a gallon, but I’d hate earning 75 cents an hour too. Almost all economists see the recent sharp uptick in inflation as a temporary disruption brought on by the shutdown from the pandemic. Like the common cold, it too will pass.