Fighting inflation: From ‘buy a $56,000 EV’ to ‘eat lentils’ in six days

The rate of year-over-year inflation in the United States hit a 40-year high of 7.9 percent in February. In the Midwest, the rate was a touch higher at 8.0 percent, driven in large part by above-average rises in the price of natural gas. Because of these higher prices, people’s real incomes — what they can actually buy — are falling.

Back in October, when White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was arguing that inflation was actually a “good thing” because it showed the strength of the economy’s recovery from COVID-19, I warned that “our current inflation might not be so transitory after all.” This was based on data showing the massive increase of money relative to the amount of goods and services people could purchase. Given this, in February, I wrote that: “it falls to the Fed to fight inflation by slowing and eventually terminating its purchases of assets with newly printed money.”

How to cope in the meantime, though? On March 7, Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg offered this less-than-helpful solution:

How people who are having their incomes squeezed are supposed to be able to shell out for a vehicle costing an average of $56,000 is left unexplained.

Taking a very different approach six days later, economist Teresa Ghilarducci offered “some ideas on how to reconfigure consumption and lessen the blow.” These included:

…it’s worth reconsidering public transportation if it’s an option where you live.

When it comes to food, don’t be afraid to explore…Though your palate may not be used to it, tasty meat substitutes include vegetables (where prices are up a little over 4%, or lentils and beans, which are up about 9%).

If you’re one of the many Americans who became a new pet owner during the pandemic, you might want to rethink those costly pet medical needs. It may sound harsh, but researchers actually don’t recommend pet chemotherapy — which can cost up to $10,000 — for ethical reasons.

How on earth has it come to this? We were supposed to be “building back better,” yet here we are taking a bus to get our pet euthanized and drowning our sorrows with a bowl of lentils.

I am not saying that Ghilarducci’s ideas are bad ones; indeed, higher prices will force people to make painful choices and those choices will be more painful the less you earn, but the people responsible for this fiasco must be held accountable. In the meantime, you can save on buying meat and veterinary bills by eating your pet.