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Voters should think critically about nation’s economic issues

Many people take an interest in election polls, sometimes maybe too much of an interest.

The 2022 midterms are still more than four months away, but already national media is calling attention to President Biden’s poll numbers.

They question whether it will mean losses for Democrats in Congress. It’s almost as though certain powers that be want them to fail.

Anyone who’s ever taken a class in economics should know that in a capitalist country it’s not accurate to blame government for an economic downturn.

Many things are affecting the direction of the economy. The list includes COVID, the war in Ukraine, supply chain issues, and a total lack of confidence on the part of major investors. None of those are caused by government.

Petreoleum costs drive the price of almost all consumer goods. The cost to consumers depends on five things; the cost to purchase oil, refining costs, transportation costs, taxes, and last but certainly not least the desire of oil companies to make a profit.

The President and Congress partially control only one out of the five (federal taxes, not the state and local portions). They have no control over the other four. Those revolve around private special interests, and are greatly influenced by foreign countries.

That’s a reflection of federal leadership over the past 40 years, leadership that’s given almost total support to free trade and globalization.

Past Congresses have not wanted to interfere in the economy. They haven’t wanted to tilt the playing field toward shorter supply chains, to limit the power of major corporate entities even if it means forcing them to operate at a loss.

Conservatives seeking votes in 2022 don’t want to take any steps in that direction, even with inflation at a 40-year high. They want to leave everything to free markets. They want to let the marketplace take care of itself.

They often say they want to cut taxes and regulations, without regard to how such moves could worsen the huge 21st century gap in wealth between the rich and the vast majority.

Both the left and right have used stock phrases in their political messages; phrases such as wasteful spending, liberal agenda, oligarchy, and wealthy one percent. Unfortunately simple sounding rhetoric resonates with simple minded people.

In 2022 there are millions who don’t read a daily newspaper or watch a standard nightly news broadcast. Instead many of them pay attention to questionable alternative media sources, often because that’s what their family and friends like. They fail to think critically.

It’s no wonder that many in that category persist in believing false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, even when every reputable news source and election officials from both parties maintain that it wasn’t.

We can only hope that most people decide to carefully sort through the various political claims. Hopefully they’ll choose reliable sources.

Easy answers might sound good and seem appealing, but they won’t solve underlying issues like how millions of people live from paycheck to paycheck.

They’re one step away from a personal economic crisis. Inflation has a big impact on them since it drives up the cost of gas, food and housing and almost everything else.

They want to voice their frustration somehow, and the easiest way is to be dissatisfied with what’s happening in government.

As that happens, there’s a need to also ask what should be done instead. In a two party system that often produces only two choices, it’s vital to question whether the other side truly offers a better alternative.

— Jim Muchlinski is a longtime reporter and contributor to the Marshall Independent

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