Politicians love inflation. It allows them to get their hands on ever more money, and not just more scraps of paper, but real spendable increases. I can remember when $5,000 was a pretty good annual salary. A person could own a home, a car, and raise a fairly large family on $5,000 a year in the middle of the twentieth century. Today, that amount of money will get you a comfortable two week vacation.

As the buying power of money falls, people need more and more of the stuff to maintain the same living standard. Unfortunately, as they get more and more money they climb into higher tax brackets and that gets more money into the hands of the politicians. Indexing the tax rates has helped, but not everything is indexed. Only a greedy government gets any real gain from inflation. That potential gain reduces the government’s incentive to avoid inflationary measures. The solution is universal indexing. Index everything to inflation. That removes any incentive to encourage the spread of this plague.

Some things of course are indexed already and some of our politicians are constantly trying to find ways around the protections offered by that indexing. The most publicized recent attack was on the cost of living allowance (COLA) increases paid to retired government employees and military retirees. Our compassionate leaders did not think it was fair to keep giving “raises” every year to a bunch of useless old fossils who refused to die, when that money could have been spent on so many other, worthier, causes. The COLA, of course, is not a raise. It is money paid to keep one’s buying power from eroding. Not getting a COLA to match inflation is the same as having your retirement income reduced by an amount equal to inflation. I personally do not want a COLA increase. I do not want inflation; but if we get inflation I need the COLA increase.

Our esteemed leaders have at last found a way to justify reducing retiree income. They have decided that the cost of living does not actually rise as much as the inflation index because when people are faced with an increase in the price of one commodity, they simply switch to another. The sophists would have been proud of this lot. If I can buy tripe for the price I used to pay for sirloin, buying the tripe has not really compensated for the increased cost of food. My standard of living used to include the occasional sirloin and now it doesn’t. My standard of living has been lowered. Is that reasoning too subtle for government economists? If we can avoid the effects of inflation simply by changing our habits, I say that we should not do it by stages. Why doesn’t everybody right now trade in his car for a bicycle and start subsisting on canned cat food. By the government’s reasoning, that will lick inflation immediately.