Mainstream media is demonstrating its conservative bias in how it’s been talking about inflation. There are short term and long term factors, and the obvious cost side, but also the income side, where things are harder to afford. The key issues discussed here include.
• The Pandemic, and the Denial of it that Prolonged it and made it worse.
• Damage from Climate Change, and Denial of it which made it worse.
• The conservative philosophy of Comparative Advantage, which put our supply chains at risk.
• Support for the Industrial Power Complex and the super rich at the expense of the bottom 98%.
• Lowering the Minimum Wage to the lowest level since 1949.
• Food Costs, Farm Bill: ending maximum Price Ceilings and Reserve Supplies.
• Farming Costs: loss of “Livestock Crop” diversity, making farmers more dependent upon giant input sellers.
• “Externalization” (denial) of a list of major Costs of damage to the economy, with damage costing us money while reducing value creation.
• Opposition to Stimulus Money that provided better income in light of massive damage from the prolonged pandemic.
Each of these ignored factors behind the problem of inflation comes from conservative policies and programs, and is supported politically by Republicans and Democrats who vote like Republicans.
REPUBLICAN CAUSES OF INFLATION
Republican causes of inflation are both short term and long term, and involve both the income side, (the ability to tolerate inflation,) and the cost side. In both cases, Democrats have better grabbed the bull of inflation by BOTH horns.
Denial of the Pandemic and criticism of measures to prevent it: social distancing, masks, vaccination. The Pandemic killed more than 1,000,000 in the U.S. and more than 10,000 in Iowa, (more than World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam combined, and in a shorter period of time). Republican denial prolonged it, and made it worse. (& more died in Republican areas.)
Short Term. This caused massive damage to the economy, with huge health care costs. It killed and straining health care workers, with shortages filled at greater costs. Many lost their employer health care, but the Democratic Affordable Healthcare programs helped many.
Long Term. Health costs, including insurance, will likely stay higher long into the future.
Denial of Climate Change & opposition to measures to reverse it.
Short Term. We’ve had massive storms, and droughts with unprecedented forest fires, causing massive damage, reducing the personal income of many, and inflating the costs of building supplies and many other items. The Iowa Derecho storm damaged large numbers of grain bins, machine sheds and other facilities over hundreds of miles and was the “most costly thunderstorm disaster in U.S. history.”
Long Term. This will continue and become more and more expensive. In supporting giant oil companies, Republicans have blocked the change to alternative energy, making us more dependent upon fossil fuels, with more damage from climate change. Democrats: as with the pandemic, “an ounce of prevention” would have been “worth a pound of cure.” Among the many long term cost increases will be insurance costs for residents, farmers, and businesses.
Philosophy of “Comparative Advantage“
Conservative economic philosophy, (corporate globalization,) has had us send our industrial jobs over seas, to be produced with sweat shop labor, lowering wages here and there, and greatly reducing the buying power of the world’s consumers. Transportation costs and climate damage are increased.
Short Term. Supply chain issues were greatly magnified, such as building supplies, computer chips for cars & etc., raising costs.
Long Term. This has been going on a long time, and fixing it will not be easy.
Support for the Industrial Power Complex & the super rich
Corporate domination shows up in many of the issues listed here. It greatly inflates health care costs in the U.S. It’s all made worse by Republican opposition to the rich and the giant corporations paying a fair share of the taxes. “In 2019…, before the pandemic, corporate behemoths hauled in roughly a trillion dollars in profit. In 2021, during the pandemic, they grabbed more than $1.7 trillion. This huge profit jump accounts for 60% of the inflation now slapping US families!” Jim Hightower, https://hightowerlowdown.org/podcast/the-inflation-blame-game/.
Lowering the Minimum Wage
Republicans have opposed raising the Minimum Wage to keep up with the inflation that occurs every year. The inflation rate is only one side of the problem. Whatever the rate of inflation, when incomes go down, inflation becomes a bigger problem. In 2009, the federal Minimum Wage floor was raised to $7.25 per hour (not adjusted for inflation). If we adjust for inflation in 2009 dollars, (CPI,) then we see that, in real terms, the Minimum Wage floor dropped from 7.25 in 2009 to just $5.40 in 2022. $5.40 is the lowest the Minimum Wage Floor has been since 1949!
Food Costs: Reducing and ending Farm Bill Supply Management programs.
Republicans led in ending top side Price Ceilings & Reserve Supplies, such as those now needed in light of the Ukraine war. It’s similar to the 1970s, when Republican Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz emptied out the grains reserves, (lowering farm prices). This was followed by the huge, secret, (cheap/below cost,) Soviet grain purchases, which, (with no reserves to put on the market,) raised farm prices far above parity levels, causing a global hunger crisis, and causing inflation. On the bottom side, in lowering farm income, Republicans made it harder for farmers to cope with inflation, damaging the rural economy, running farmers out of business, depopulating rural areas, and putting downward pressure on wages, as the U.S. lost money on farm exports (vs. full costs) for decades.
Farming Costs: Opposition to Sustainable Agriculture
The cheap farm prices, (section above,) forced farmers to subsidize agribusiness/CAFOs, leading to the loss of value added livestock & poultry, from most farms across the crop growing regions, leading to a loss of pastures, hay and oats, lowering wealth, damaging the rate of wealth creation, damaging rural communities in multipole ways, damaging public health and the environment. With lower income, farmers have increasingly had to get off farm jobs to survive, reducing their labor availability for farming while increasing their off-farm capital, further damaging diversity. All of this reduced the infrastructure for diversity on farms, in rural communities, and across farming regions. More specifically, with the loss of sustainable diversity, farmers lost the economic possibility of utilizing resource conserving crop rotations to reduce input costs, instead of relying on inputs purchased from giant corporations who can easily inflate what they charge.
“Externalization” of the Costs of Damage to the Economy
In the conservative economic paradigm, damage to the environment, public health, communities/ neighborhoods, etc., (all of which damages the economy, and even the rate of wealth creation, as in the previous section,) is given little attention as mere “externalities.” In this way, these many, (often highly inflationary,) damages are left out of economic calculations. (See other sections, including climate change and agriculture.)
Support for the Corporate Power Complex and Corporate Concentration
Republicans have opposed the antitrust measures needed to block unnecessary inflation. They’ve supported the giant corporations who fund their campaigns, and who lobby against campaign finance reform, greatly increasing the costs of getting elected, at the same time that they block serious discussions of our most important issues, (as simplistic negative ads that grab the bull by only one horn dominate). One massive, Republican-led spending spree over decades has been in support of the Military Industrial Complex, where the spending creates little wealth, but rather results in the stockpiling of weapons.
Opposition to Stimulus Money to Provide Better Income and Strengthen the Economy.
In light of the massive economic hit that the U.S. took from the pandemic, Democrats are criticized for strengthening the economy too much, including money to help citizens’ ability to survive all of the economic damage. Republicans generally have emphasized stimulus money that subsidizes the rich and giant corporations. Benefits to the income side were opposed and are denied by Republicans. The Democrats “Inflation Reduction Act” includes money to fight climate change, to prevent further damage to our economy. Again, an ounce of short term prevention is worth a pound of long term cure.
CONCLUSION: NEGATIVE POLITICAL ADS OMIT THE DEEP CAUSES OF INFLATION
Part of the political problem is the lack of Campaign Finance Reform. As the party most supportive of the corporate complex and the super rich, Republicans have long opposed these reforms, and relied on more corporate money to fund their campaigns. As a result we’ve seen much more focus on negative political ads. In general, negative ads “grab the bull by only one horn.” They provide false solutions to the real dilemmas behind inflation. A better metaphor is “the mariner’s dilemma,” of avoiding both the obvious rock and the vague whirlpool. Negative ads scream out about the simplistic rocks, while ignoring the more complex whirlpools that need to be addressed.
For example, military responses to terrorism provide a simplistic solution, (rock,) but typically also create new terrorists, (whirlpool and grabbing the bull of terror by only one horn). Similarly immigration is an obvious crisis at our border, (rock,) but what’s happening in their home countries leading to why they are coming in the first place, such as atrocious conservative foreign policies regarding Central America. The Reagan administration’s support for corrupt dictatorships was a huge factor and Middle East foreign policy has had similar effects for Europe. Likewise, conservative farm policies of lowering minimum farm Price Floors to subsidize agribusiness donors led to the U.S. losing money (vs. full costs) on corn exports to Mexico, causing a farm crisis here and driving millions of farmers out of business there. Clearly, these and manly other problems can’t be solved by grabbing the bull by only one horn, when negative political ads show us only the simplistic “rocks,” and not the huge, more complex “whirlpools.”