C.O. Montgomery: Coffee House Ramblings

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I am not, nor do I claim to be, a writer or an economist. I am just an ordinary guy and an American that is really feeling the pinch of inflation and supply-chain issues.

I, like most folks, feel that the pandemic, inflation and supply-chain issues are all related. Time – and space – does not permit me to fully examine each of these complex issues.

I like the late humorist, Will Rogers. I don’t claim to be Will Rogers, but he had “common sense.” Will Rogers once said, “When the Okies left for California, they raised the intelligence level, in both states” Clint Eastwood, the venerable actor, producer, director and former Mayor of Carmel, California is quoted as saying, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” What do both of these men have in common? They were both American folk heroes. But, more importantly, they exhibit common sense.

I submit to you that good old American ingenuity and common sense has been lacking in our culture for a good many years. In 1998, Tom Brokaw wrote the best seller “The Greatest Generation.” Essentially, Mr. Brokaw brought to life ordinary Americans that “came of age” during World War II. I submit that we as Americans basically “gave up” after WWII. WWII was the last war that America won. I have lived through the Korean War, the Viet Nam War and a plethora of skirmishes worldwide. Now the US, via NATO, is involved with another “madman” from the USSR. Could it be that the pandemic, the supply-chain shortage and inflation are all tied together? I believe they are.

Interestingly enough there are three elements here. The number 3 is an interesting symbol. Three is a symbol for something that is solid, real, significant and complete. I submit that the pandemic, supply-chain shortage and inflation are very real, significant and, in their own omnipresent way, meet these criteria. In regards to the pandemic, much has already been said, written and discussed. Anything that I might add to that discussion would be fruitless. I would like to focus on the supply-chain issue and inflation. One can scarcely look at the news media without it being a topic of conversation.

I talked to a local New Palestine merchant Jim Matthews. Jim owns Indy Auto Trim. Jim does work in the automotive field, as well as the racing world and the marine world. Getting material to compete orders has reached the “critical” stage. I recently read where Transportation Secretary Pete Buttgieng doled out $241 million to boost the supply chain. (Thanks, Washington, D.C. for increasing our debt.) Incidentally, Buttigieg said that next year the administration will nearly double this to $450 million. Why do we keep having runaway inflation? According to many notable economists the answer is simple. Because we Americans keep spending money we don’t have. Solution? We simply “print” more.

In regards to inflation, David Rothkompf, host of “Deep State Radio” states the following: “High gas prices are necessary sacrifice to fight tyranny.” In layman’s terms, we are in an “energy war” of global proportion. It was triggered by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

David Ditch, policy analyst in the Institute for Economic Freedom at The Heritage Foundation counters with this: “With inflation raging, Congress must end its spending spree.” I agree 100%. Other notable authors from Detroit, Michigan to Tampa, Florida, have said the same.

If we want to “curb” inflation, we must do two things. Number one Congress must quit spending money that we as Americans do not have. The second part of this scenario is that we Americans must also quit spending money that we do not have.

So, how do the pandemic, the pinch of inflation and supply-chain issues, interrelate? More importantly, how do they affect us? I will state what my grandson said. Zac is a 22-year-old that plays football for the University of Edmonton, at Alberta, Canada. I posed the inflation question to him. Zac answered by saying, “Grandpa, gas prices are up, groceries are up, all the essential items I normally don’t have to worry about overspending on are now becoming something I have to budget closer and more tightly each month.”

So what do we do about the pandemic, inflation and the supply-chain issue?

I am not an economist with a Ph.D. in economics. I can only offer my opinion. I would say we as Americans will need to “tighten our belt.” Spend less; attempt to live within our budgets. Hope and pray that this war in Ukraine is over quickly. Pray that this present administration in Washington, D.C. also spends less, and attempt to live within a reasonable budget.

In the meanwhile, perhaps we should all pray the Serenity Prayer. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Perhaps once you really embrace that philosophy, you will start to lighten up and feel better.

C.O. Montgomery of New Palestine is a former teacher and former Sugar Creek Township trustee.