BORTINS: Free markets produce better outcomes

The things you used to buy, you can’t find; and if you can find it, you can’t afford it. 

Inflation is when your hard-earned dollars buy less than what they did in the past.

If you had $100 in your pocket on Jan. 1 of 2020, it will only purchase $94 worth of goods on Jan. 1 of 2022. In March of 2021, I called a friend who sells used cars in the Triangle about vehicle prices spiking. He replied, “Don’t worry. The federal government says it is transitory.”

I told him it wasn’t. Now the government is telling us that the supply chain will be fixed soon, and things will return to normal in 2022.

I’ve worked in the supply-chain industry. I am a minority owner in multiple businesses, across multiple industries, and I know that wholesale prices have increased higher than consumer inflation. We’ve spent nearly two years under an economy managed by the government with things getting progressively worse.

It’s time for the government to step aside so the American people can begin moving beyond this mess.

First let’s review the outcomes of a centrally managed economy. You may have seen the news in November, that inflation has spiked to 6.8%, energy prices are up 33.3% and food prices are up 6.1%, according to the consumer price index (CPI).

Over the years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics had changed the way they measure and report inflation. Older CPI models, like those used in the Jimmy Carter days, today would show an overall calculation of approximately 15% inflation, which would be around a 50-year high. This increase is not taking into consideration the Dollar Store and General Mills announcement of consumer price increases of 25% and 20% starting in January. These increases disproportionately impact the poor and middle class.

I’ve noticed it around town lately as well. Local restaurants can’t get staff. The quantity of food on the plates has noticeably decreased, the available menu items have shrunk and prices are starting to rise.

The businesses in which I am involved have seen wholesale prices spike. So far, we have been able to absorb those increases. While business owners do not like increasing prices to consumers, rising costs cannot be absorbed indefinitely.

Our food vendor says the trucks are starting to move, but they can’t find people to unload them.  Meanwhile, the current administration is creating additional risk to business owners through mandates and regulatory burdens on top of risks that are already facing in the economy. If you ever talked to a financial adviser, they tell you that if you take on more risk in your portfolio you need to have opportunity for more reward. Meanwhile Washington prints trillions of dollars that our children and grandchildren will have to pay off.

The most troubling policies driving inflation are those on American energy. Efficiently using energy is the greatest way to build wealth and protect yourself. From war, where those with the most powerful weapons win, to economies where the switch from candles and fireplaces to electricity and A/C units brought in an economic boom for the U.S. Policies currently coming out of D.C. aim to increase the cost of energy. That cost will be absorbed by the end user, you. When the cost of oil leases goes up, that is a permanent increase in the cost of gas, paving roads and providing goods and services — and those prices are paid by you. Businesses are unwilling to invest in products actively attacked by big government bureaucrats, and since those industries are closely tied to the supply chain, you will see inflation and the lack of available goods to continue well into 2023.

Prior to a government-managed economy spurned on by the Covid-19 pandemic, we saw income inequality narrowing in the first three years of the Trump presidency, according to Federal Reserve data released on Monday Sept. 28, 2020. We experienced the economic empowerment of policies that trust Americans.

Now we’ve seen the pain a government-managed economy puts on its people. Inflation is at a 50-year high, the supply chain is a mess and our debt levels have risen to near-catastrophic levels. Income inequality continues to increase. The things you used to buy, you can’t find; and if you can find it, you can’t afford it.

2022 is an election year. We need to elect leaders, from local to national offices, who believe in the free market and will let people make decisions that are best for themselves and their families. Make Americans free again, and we will bounce back.

But until that time arises, be prepared for the pain of inflation.

By Robert Bortins

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