Quantitative easing is a tax on the poor

| December 30 2012
Christopher Cook

Inflation has been described as one of the cruelest taxes of all. Because it is a function of the money supply, government can raise this “tax” simply by printing more money. It is, as Milton Friedman described it, quite literally taxation without representation. They can raise taxes on you without ever calling it a tax or requiring legislators to go on the record supporting the tax. The money they get from printing more money can be used to give goodies to special interests, and to grow the size of government, both of which further strengthen and enrich the bureaucracy and those already in power.

It is also a terrible tax on the poor, as Thomas Sowell explains:

Hyperinflation can take virtually your entire life’s savings, without the government having to bother raising the official tax rate at all.  The Weimar Republic in Germany in the 1920s had thousands of printing presses turning out vast amounts of money, which the government could then spend to pay for whatever it wanted to pay for.

Of course, prices skyrocketed with vastly more money in circulation.  Many people’s life savings would not buy a loaf of bread.  For all practical purposes, they had been robbed, big time.

A rising demagogue coined the phrase “starving billionaires,” because even a billion Deutschmarks was not enough to feed your family.  That demagogue was Adolf Hitler, and the public’s loss of faith in their irresponsible government may well have contributed toward his Nazi movement’s growth.

Most inflation does not reach that level, but the government can quietly steal a lot of your wealth with much lower rates of inflation.  For example a $100 bill at the end of the 20th century would buy less than a $20 bill would buy in 1960.

If you put $1,000 in your piggy bank in 1960 and took it out to spend in 2000, you would discover that your money had, over time, lost 80 percent of its value.

[ . . . ]

It is bad enough when the poorest have to turn over the same share of their assets to the government as the richest do, but it is grotesque when the government puts a bigger bite on the poorest.  This can happen because the rich can more easily convert their assets from money into things like real estate, gold or other assets whose value rises with inflation.  But a welfare mother is unlikely to be able to buy real estate or gold.  She can put a few dollars aside in a jar somewhere.  But wherever she may hide it, inflation can steal value from it without having to lay a hand on it.

No wonder the Federal Reserve uses fancy words like “quantitative easing,” instead of saying in plain English that they are essentially just printing more money.

keep reading

0 comments