With consumers across the country ready to go out and spend again, many are seeing higher prices than they expected thanks to higher than normal levels of inflation. With some supply chains and businesses still struggling, supply is not quite meeting rising demand from a reopening economy, causing higher prices and a collective freakout by many members of the economic elite predicting disaster.
Don’t listen to them – here’s what you need to know about inflation.
While it’s true that prices have risen over the last year, there’s little evidence that this inflation is going to be a long-term problem. Many of the commodities with the most drastic price increases, like lumber, used cars, and microchips, became more expensive due to temporary supply chain issues (lumber prices have already significantly fallen). Others simply became more expensive due to built-up demand coming out all at once. Most credible economists, including those at the Federal Reserve and the White House, think that given some time for the economy to return to normal, inflation will fall back to normal levels.
Even if long-term inflation was something that was likely, there is actually very little reason for everyday Americans to fear moderate levels of inflation. In fact, less wealthy people often benefit from higher inflation levels. If you owe a significant amount of debt, say you have a mortgage or lots of student loan debt, inflation is probably good for you. The size of your debt won’t change, but the amount of money you’re earning will likely increase with inflation.
This isn’t to say that Americans should strive for more inflation, but the steps that have been recommended to avoid inflation are more destructive to everyday working people than skyrocketing inflation alone. Some members of Congress are even using inflation as an excuse for why we should limit the amount of aid the government offers to needy Americans, saying we should put a stop to progressive legislation that will actually pay workers’ living wages and invest in our country in order to protect against this hypothetical threat. It’s an absurd argument.
The other tool the government has to fight inflation, interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, is not much better. Consider how interest rate changes would affect the car loan market, for example. An overwhelming majority of new car buyers and used car buyers finance their cars. So what will happen if the Fed actually moves forward with an effort to reduce inflation by raising interest rates?
It could work, but not in a fair and equal way that will benefit our economy. The ultra-rich simply won’t be affected at all, they don’t bother to use car loans anyway. However, for average, everyday Americans, if they really need a car they will have to pay higher payments.
To put it plainly, people who don’t need car loans don’t need to worry, and people who do need car loans will have to deal with higher payments or simply go without. Is that really an improvement over inflation?
We can no longer allow the threat of surging inflation rates to stop us from rendering aid to millions of Americans in need. We have to look at the big picture and prioritize the rejuvenation of our economy and all the people who occupy it, not just the wealthy.