M G Klein | The truck blockades clarified something for me

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I see global human activity, especially economic productivity, as a population eating up the globe’s resources and turning them into stuff and waste.  Thus, I see us as a digestive system, a gastrointestinal or GI tract.

Our GI tract is suffering from constipation.  Stuff and waste is simply not getting through.  So, we have a shortage of stuff, and as a primary law of market economics tells us, shortages drive up the bidding for each unit of that short supply, thereby driving up our cost per unit without addressing the shortages.  When costs are bid higher for most of the items, we have general inflation. 

The truck blockades are intended to create inconvenience by creating shortages of supply at both the consumer and business-to-business levels.  They are succeeding in that. 

In inflationary times, the conventional wisdom of many of those in charge of the supply side of society has it that we must exercise austerity in government programs while simultaneously reducing the money supply with higher interest rates.  These measures are supposed to cure our inflationary headache. 

So let’s imagine that we have applied both these measures to the current situation.   

Did they work to disperse the truck blockades?  No, and I don’t know why they would.  Austerity and tight money cannot remove anti-pandemic mandates as these measures are not relevant to a virus-driven public health emergency.  If population health is threatened, the mandates must remain.  Continuing mandates seems certain to continue to motivate anti-mandate protests.  Using these irrelevant measures as laxatives meant to clear blockages cannot be effective.  

Adding hardship to peoples’ lives by reducing the affordability of essentials will raise anxiety.  Raising the cost of production capital will raise anxiety.  Our situation then worsens.  

Some public figures, pundits even, are placing the blame for the accelerating mess on government action.  Yet, this is clearly not the case.  Pandemics begin with the laws of science.  Democratic governments are driven to respond by ensuring that citizens’ basic needs are met. That requires expenditure adequate to meet those needs. 

We must simultaneously: 1) use all the best scientific knowledge we have to prepare medical measures to quell the pandemic, 2) apply all the collaborative and educational skills we can muster to unite society to adopt lifestyle changes to quell the pandemic, 3)  develop new plans for productivity and delivery models to adapt supply chains to the new reality.  Only when the pandemic is quelled can we properly judge the relevance of austerity or tight money. 

The inflationary headache is being caused by constipation in delivery of economic output.  We must clear that constipation, then see how our heads feel. 

M G Klein


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