Inflation and inflated egos in our government

America's Treasury Secretary admits she mishandled the threat of inflation. Why doesn't the President do the same? Even better, why not do something about it?

The cost of regular gas went up again, this time by 14 cents a gallon to $4.59.99 in Floyd’s Express Mart and the Exxon Circle-K. Odd, however, that the prices did not go up in Christiansburg or Roanoke.

On Thursday, the day after the latest hike in Floyd, regular gas was available for prices ranging from $4.09 to $4.29 in both other areas. At a Shell Station we frequent in Christiansburg, I filled Amy’s car, which requires premium gas, for less than the cost of regular in Floyd, thanks to a 10-cents a gallon discount card and the fact that the regular price was still much less than a so-called “independent” station in our town.

In other establishments, the cost is going up on many things: The chicken buffet at Food Lion is now $8.99 a pound, up another dollar and four dollars higher than the original price when the bar opened a few years ago.

A 2-liter bottle of Food Lion’s “generic soda” is up from 69 cents a bottle to 99 cents. At Cicle K, the 79-cent fountain soda is now a buck (plus tax) and a cup of just ice doubled in price from 25 cents to 50.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen this week admitted she screwed up on mishandling the economy and the real risk of inflation.

“I think I was wrong then about the path that inflation would take,” she told a CNN interview. “As I mentioned, there have been unanticipated and large shocks to the economy that have boosted energy and food prices and supply bottlenecks that have affected our economy badly that I didn’t — at the time — didn’t fully understand, but we recognize that now.”

It’s unusual for a political appointee to admit such a mistake, but it is one that other should consider, especially President Joe Biden.

Suggests columnist Jennifer Rubin:

For example: The Federal Reserve and most economists concluded inflation would be transitory. This is why the Fed kept interest rates so low for so long. The subsequent hike in fuel costs stemming from the war in Ukraine and persistent challenges in ramping up production to meet demand aggravated rising prices. By the same token, economic predictions of a multi-year recession with high unemployment did not pan out due to the administration’s actions. Going forward, the focus of the Fed and the White House will be on taming inflation.

Really, how hard would that be?

That said, the difference between the Trump administration, which was driven by the desire to serve the ego of a delusional narcissist, and a “normal” presidency acting in good faith is that the former was premised on the lie of an all-knowing, perfect leader, whereas the latter can own its mistakes. Presidents who do not seek cult status understand that democracies are effective in large part because leaders can raise issues, learn from errors and adjust.

I worked for two Presidents during my time in Washington: Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Reagan admitted selling arms to the contras was a mistake. I helped draft that statement, and selling the idea of having a President admit a mistake publicly was not easy.

Rubin adds:

By acknowledging error, presidents can cut the media frenzy short, model responsible conduct for those in their administration and allow focus to shift to the president and future. And as Yellen demonstrated, one can enhance their credibility by stating what is obvious to everyone else. This White House would be smart to practice some radical candor. It might even surprise a restless press corps.

Will it happen? Don’t bet on it. Like the inflation that puts many of us underwater financially, we will all pay for the lack of candor at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington.

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