Originally posted November 17, 2021.
With a 30% hike in natural gas prices, Americans are learning that there is “no free lunch.” The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects the price for the average home for heating oil to jump from $746, from $574 due to the 30% hike in natural-gas prices.
The Big Lie: Money for Nothing and Chicks for Free
As Americans prepare for the Holidays, they are getting a bitter taste of the dire straits facing them:
- An extra $20 at the pumps to fill up their Chevys.
- An average 22% more than last year – that is, if they’re lucky enough to get a frozen Thanksgiving turkey at Piggly Wiggly.
Who Missed the Handwriting on the Wall
Politicians will have a hard time spinning this one, predicts the WSJ’s William McGurn. Americans, however, aren’t likely to be comforted about inflation concerns by the Biden administration. Reassurances that “it’ll all go away next year—often from the same people who didn’t see it coming in the first place,” ring hollow.
Ghosts of Christmas Past
“Milton Friedman is not running the show anymore.”
Joe Biden’s swipe in April 2020 at the University of Chicago monetarist “may be coming back to haunt him.”
Ten months into the Biden presidency, voters are facing the worst inflation in 31 years. Once inflation is let loose, as Mr. McGurn notes, an increase in prices (inflation) becomes difficult to contain.
The Big Sting
Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker took on double-digit inflation in 1979. But the price of the cure wasn’t cheap: Interest rates were 20% and the onslaught of recession, which contributed to Jimmy Carter’s loss to Ronald Reagan in the 1980 election. Not a happy thought for Biden Democrats.
Our “Transformational” President Not Up to the Job
Inflation in 2021 is far from the levels of the late 1970s. The Biden-Carter analogies, however, grow stronger. As McGurn notes, what a comedown for a man who a few months ago was hailed as a transformational president in the mold of FDR. “With each day Mr. Biden, like the hapless Mr. Carter before him, seems to persuade more Americans he simply isn’t up to the job.”
Ghost Haunting Joe Biden?
Among Friedman’s most popular saying was, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.”
Now Mr. Biden is trying to sell Americans the biggest “free lunch” in history: his Build Back Better bill, which will certainly spend more than the $1.75 trillion Democrats claim.
Build Back Better Costs $0?
The fact of the matter is, my Build Back Better Agenda costs $0—and it won’t raise taxes on anyone making under $400,000 a year.
Mr. Friedman might have pointed out that if inflation is the problem, as Mr. Biden now admits it is, it’s already taxing plenty of Americans earning less than $400,000.
2nd Thoughts from Biden?
In a Nov. 10 speech at the Port of Baltimore, he invoked the humble pencil to illustrate the complexity of supply chains that combine raw materials that are then delivered to the American consumer as a finished product. It sounded like a crib from Leonard Read’s famous essay “I, Pencil,” or from a Friedman clip on the pencil from his “Free to Choose” TV series. Needless to say, both Friedman and Read went unmentioned.
Wising Friedman Back Running the Show
Maybe the White House and its supporters are right that inflation will go away as the pandemic recedes and the supply chain sorts itself out.
President Biden must hope so, argues Mr. McGurn. “Because if inflation doesn’t go away, Americans are going to wish Milton Friedman really were running the show.”
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