Put another way, it’s just government, doing what governments always do once they’ve been allowed to slip the leash and run amok.
The supply lines of February 2020 were impossibly complicated structures that no politician could ever hope to design. Think billions of individuals around the world pursuing their narrow work specialization on the way to enormous global plenty. Put another way, the shelves in economically free countries were heaving with all manner of products based on economic cooperation that was staggering in scope. Brilliant as some experts claim to be, and brilliant as some politicians think they are as they look in the mirror, they could never construct the web of trillions of economic relationships that prevailed before the lockdowns. But they could destroy the web. And they did; that, or they severely impaired it.
In which case let’s please not insult reason by talking about “shortages” or “inflation” now. Let’s instead be realistic and talk about central planning. We know from the 20th century that when politicians, authoritarians or both substitute their intensely narrow knowledge for that of the marketplace that immense want for very little (and lousy) supply is the logical result. Yes it is. When we’re not economically free, bare shelves are the inevitable result.
Conversely, product and service abundance is a certain consequence yet again of the infinite actions and trillions of economic relationships entered into by billions of people. These commercial tie-ups were constructed by consenting individuals over many years and many decades only for them to be wrecked by a political class arrogantly seeking to protect us from ourselves. That’s what happens when command-and-control replaces voluntary order. The remunerative ties that bind us fray, or vanish altogether. Consenting, profitable economic activity was suddenly illegal. Yet politicians and other experts are only now wringing their hands about a lack of supply?
Really, what did they think was going to happen?
They thought they’d get richer, more powerful, and would attain even tighter control over their hapless subjects. Tragically for all of us, they were right about that. Don’t fall into the common mental trap of believing they give so much as a lumpy Brandonfart about anything whatsoever else, please. The erroneous assumption that their goals and intentions are even remotely in harmony with those of the people they misrule is part of what got us into this mess in the first place.
We don’t suddenly have an inflation problem. To say we do is the equivalent of saying that the Soviets had inflation because all the goods worth getting were both difficult to find, and incredibly expensive if they could be found. In our case we’ve had a lockdown problem care of nail-biting politicians that suffocated commercial cooperation around the world. And with work divided less than it used to be care of government force, productivity is naturally lower than it used to be.
Please consider modern productivity in terms of Smith’s pin factory example yet again, and ask what it would do to supply. The only thing is supply shortfalls are not evidence of inflation. A rise in one price due to lack of supply implies a fall in other prices. Yes, we have a central planning problem. Were he around today, Adam Smith could diagnose this in seconds.
Anyone with a lick of sense could, really. It’s not difficult or complicated for those adequately schooled on an inflexible, ironclad principle our Founders knew very well: The sole raison d’etre of government is to attain, consolidate, and expand its own power. And that, folks, is absolutely, positively IT—period, full stop, end of story. Which makes it of primary importance that any government Constitutionally established and constrained must never, never, never be allowed to exceed its explicitly specified limits.
Once government has been allowed to escape its proper box, it quickly becomes extremely difficult if not impossible to force it back in again without the spilling of blood. The unloosed beast grows at an incredible pace, in every dimension and direction it can. Having bloated, engorged, and extended itself to monstrous proportion, it will naturally resist every attempt to trim it back to a more manageable size ferociously, using all its considerable might and cunning to maintain its own untrammeled freedom even as it continues to gluttonously devour the few remaining scraps of yours.
The price of freedom, as Jefferson cautioned, is eternal vigilance. We are about to find out what relaxing our vigilance costs.
Update! Blast it, forgot to include the “Via…” link earlier, which was good ol’ Divemedic. Sorry ’bout the slip-up, buddy.