In a time of universal deceit — telling the truth is a revolutionary act. --GEORGE ORWELL
Tuesday, August 03, 2021
Today's Top Stories
Today's Top Stories From the Breitbart News Desk
The infrastructure bill has introduced a novel term into federal legislation. In tallying up how much money each state is entitled to for broadband subsidies, the bill says that states will be evaluated based on the numbers of incarcerated people, people who cannot speak English, veterans, disabled folk, and racial and ethnic minorities—the usual litany of the favored in federal legislation. But it also mentions "aging individuals," which is new. On its face, that would seem to include all individuals from the moment of conception (perhaps with the exception of George Clooney).
The truth is stupider. The definitions section of the legislation informs us that "aging individuals" simply means "older individuals" as defined in the Older Americans Act of 1965. So why not just say "older individuals"? This appears to be just the latest instance of newspeak being used to social signal. Introducing novel terms to replace the older terms—sorry, aging terms—is a way to mark the difference between the elite and the masses. Plus, at least one or two of the aging coots in Congress probably got tired of their staffers calling them "older" and demanded a more nonsensical designation.
Speaking of signaling, inflation is making it more difficult to know what the economic data is telling us about the economy. For example, the Census Bureau reported on Monday that private-sector spending on the construction of single-family homes grew 1.8 percent in the month of June. That is quite a leap in a single month in a series whose long-term average is 0.3 percent a month. In the ordinary course of things, this would be a very bullish sign for the housing market, an indication that home builders and home improvers were pouting money into house construction. But in our era, the enthusiasm has to be tempered by the knowledge that the costs of both labor and the materials that go into home building are rising rapidly. So the rising spending on construction may not be a sign that builders are getting more confident, but rather that it's getting awfully expensive to be in the business of building.
This is the sort of calculational chaos that inflation causes. Rising consumer spending in a low-inflation environment indicates a confident consumer. In an inflationary environment, it may just indicate that consumers are being forced to pay more for household staples. Following at least a decade of very low inflation, it will likely take markets some time to figure out which pieces of economic data are signs of genuine strengthening and which are inflationary head fakes.
Don't be disturbed, by the way, if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by the enormous infrastructure bill. The point of producing such huge bills is to overwhelm and thereby suppress criticism. The size also makes it easier to hide the giveaways intended to win the support of particular senators who might otherwise hesitate to vote for another trillion dollars of spending in a year of rising inflation. This is one of Washington's oldest tricks—or should we say aging tricks?