I noticed this morning that gasoline prices had jumped by another 10 cents per gallon overnight. I texted a friend to see if he had noticed.
“Unbelievable,” he texted back. “Biden gas is expensive! Biden inflation is expensive!”
I can’t stand Joe Biden. I also can’t stand Donald Trump. I detest what all these politicians collectively represent. All of them believe that they have the right to make decisions for your life and mine. All of them believe that you and I must be required to obey them — by force, if necessary.
But I know that gasoline prices would be sky high right now no matter who the president was. I understand that the dip in gasoline prices for the previous couple of years was because demand was reduced during a time of lower economic activity. And I understand that the Russian invasion of Ukraine last week caused prices to spike because Russia is a major oil producer.
These are obvious truths for anyone who’s being intellectually honest, but those who are filled with partisan hatred would rather find a ridiculously simplistic explanation that allows them to blame whoever they hate.
This isn’t new. Each time there’s a change in who controls the White House, the angry people of the political mainstream switch sides. The people who have spent four years blaming the incumbent president for everything suddenly decide the new guy — their new hero — isn’t responsible for anything that goes wrong.
And this idiotic game has gone on for decades, allowing almost everyone to ignore the economic looming disaster which was set in motion more than a hundred years ago.
Presidents and members of Congress do things to make the long-term problem worse, but they never fix the underlying problems. Never.
Politicians like to spend money. Republicans have their sacred cows that they don’t want to cut. Democrats have entirely different sacred cows. And as some 1930s programs of the New Deal — such as Social Security — have become entrenched, they become sacred cows for both sides.
Almost every year, politicians argue and posture in front of cameras. One side will say the other side is trying to kill old people. Or babies. Or force minorities into the streets. Another side will say the other is trying to leave us undefended against foreign aggressors.
Of course, most people ignore the fact that labor unions and various special interests on the left are the real voices (and votes) behind what Democrats want. And they ignore that defense contractors and rabid militarists of the right always want to spend more money. (And neither party wants to see a military base closed in their own congressional districts, no matter how useless it might be to the military.)
The money supply is controlled by the Federal Reserve Bank, which is actually owned and partly controlled by the country’s largest banking interests. Politicians appoint the people who run the regional Federal Reserve Banks, but they’re supposed to be quasi-independent. The truth is that it’s mostly a collection of people who believe in the same top-down policies of economic control — and these people generally “happen” to favor what the fat cats of Wall Street want.
The entire Fed system — and the world’s dominant central banking system — is based on the creation of fictitious currency. There was a time when a nation could issue only as much currency as it had the actual gold and silver to use to back it. Today, there is no connection between the two.
A central bank — and the Fed is the U.S. central bank — can create as much “money” out of thin air as it can get away with. Central banks which push this fiction too far send their countries into disastrous inflation, because there’s suddenly way too much cash chasing the same amount of goods.
This is what has happened in the U.S. in the last couple of years.
In order for the U.S. government to spend money at an unprecedented rate for the past two years, the Fed created more fictitious currency — out of thin air — than ever before. Anybody who had even the slightest understanding of economics knew that inflation had to be the result.
This system was set up in 1913 with the creation of the Fed. At the time, politicians and bankers promised that decisions would be made reasonably and responsibly. But over time, one bad decision after another has created the ticking time bomb that sits underneath the economy today.
The facts are all there for anybody who wants to pay attention. It’s not secret. It’s not hidden. But understanding what’s going on requires a person to care about intellectual honesty more than the emotional desire to blame whichever politician they hate.
The truth is that what a president does matters only in fairly small ways. Yes, a president and a Congress can make things worse — usually by spending more money and creating long-term problems for the future — but the overall economic direction was set many decades ago.
If you want to keep playing the idiotic blame game — pretending that the other side’s latest president is the source of all ills — you can do that, but that’s a game nobody is going to win.
That’s because the short-term blame game ignores the big picture. Even if this president or that one does something especially stupid — as happens from time to time — the overall economic direction wouldn’t have changed much regardless.
Joe Biden didn’t create the current inflation. He didn’t cause over high gasoline prices. (His anti-oil rhetoric and actions certainly didn’t help, but the problem would be here regardless.)
In the same way, Donald Trump isn’t responsible for the COVID-19 mess during his presidency. He was bumbling in the way he handled the issue and his rhetoric was insane at times. But the disease was going to rip through the population no matter who the president had been — and no matter what had been done.
It’s stupid to waste time worrying about the idiocies of this politician or that one. It’s like arguing about competing decorators and designers who re-arrange the inside of a building — while there’s a massive bomb underneath the entire thing that’s going to blow it to smithereens regardless of who does what.
I’d like to think that someone might look at these facts and say, “Hey, maybe I should be looking at something other than partisan politics,” but I know that’s unlikely.
Hating the other side seems to be too popular. I expect each side to go right ahead blaming the other — and when things finally fall apart, whoever isn’t in power is going to gleefully scream, “See? You’re the one who did this!”
Note: If you’d like to understand the economics behind this, I can recommend you explore the websites of the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) and the Mises Institute. Both of these organizations produce some excellent economic materials.