June 15, 2022

Solving the Inflation Crisis – Next Election or Next Generation? – with E.J. Antoni - (Part 2) - [Ep. 125]

Solving the Inflation Crisis – Next Election or Next Generation? – with E.J. Antoni - (Part 2) - [Ep. 125]

Inflation has hit every American household and affects every individual, as well as our national sovereignty and security. Solutions are available, but it will take wise, bold leadership to set our country back on course. Political decisions made with...

Inflation has hit every American household and affects every individual, as well as our national sovereignty and security. Solutions are available, but it will take wise, bold leadership to set our country back on course. Political decisions made with elections in mind are typically not the best long term, but we can improve current economic conditions and pursue prosperity for future generations if we are willing to think like statesmen and make the tough choices that will ensure a promising future for generations of Americans. Linda and well-known economist, E.J. Antoni, discuss solutions to the complex economic problems facing our nation. This is Part 2 of an educational and inspirational interview that will help you understand and navigate the inflation crisis for you, your family, or your business. 

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Linda J. Hansen:  Welcome. Thank you for tuning in to this episode of the Prosperity 101 Breakroom Economics Podcast. My name is Linda J. Hansen. Your host and the author of Prosperity 101 - Job Security Through Business Prosperity: The Essential Guide to Understanding How Policy Affects Your Paycheck, and the creator of the Breakroom Economics online course. The book, the course, and the entire podcast library can be found on Prosperity101.com. I seek to connect boardroom to breakroom and policy to paycheck by empowering and encouraging employers to educate employees about the public policy issues that affect their jobs.

My goal is to help people understand the foundations of prosperity, the policies of prosperity, and how to protect their prosperity by becoming informed, involved, and impactful. I believe this will lead to greater employee loyalty, engagement, and retention and to an increased awareness of the blessings and responsibilities of living in a free society. Listen each week to hear from exciting guests and be sure to visit Prosperity101.com. Thank you for tuning in today.

I’m recording this, a part two of a two-part interview, in early June of 2022. Gas prices are approaching $10 a gallon in some parts of the country and groceries have nearly doubled in price since the 2020 election, and baby formula is not available for most parents in the United States with many babies suffering enough to be hospitalized. The border is wide open and American taxpayers are providing economic assistance to thousands, actually millions of illegal citizens who enter our country and are guaranteed food, housing, transportation, and more. Our government has decided to send dollars to Ukraine, but we must borrow to do so which increases our national debt, which is already at a terrifying tipping point for any sort of painless recovery. Inflation has hit every American household and affects every individual as well as our national sovereignty and security.

I have titled this episode, Solving the Inflation Crisis – Next Election or Next Generation? and this is part two of the same-titled episode. And I titled it that because I’ve always appreciated the quote about how a politician thinks about the next election, but a statesman thinks about the next generation. Our discussions will revolve around how to solve this crisis as statesmen, securing freedom and prosperity for current and future generations. Solutions are available, but it will take wise, bold leadership to set our country back on course economically. Our President has proposed solutions, but will they work? Are they realistic? Here to discuss this and more is my returning guest, E.J. Antoni.

E.J. Antoni is a research fellow for Regional Economics in the Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation. His research focuses on fiscal and monetary policy. His work has been featured with a variety of news outlets, including Daily Caller, Fox News and Fox Business, Wall Street Journal, National Review, CNBC, Washington Times, The Center Square, Washington Examiner, Breitbart, The Federalist, and others. He is also a frequent guest on, and official economist of, WMAL’s Vince Coglianese Show, heard in the greater D.C. area.

E.J.’s research has also been featured with numerous think tanks and institutes including the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, where he is a senior fellow. Previously, he was an economist at Texas Public Policy Foundation, an economic consultant for FreedomWorks, and he has taught courses ranging from labor economics to money and banking. E.J. holds master’s and doctoral degrees in economics. 

E.J. is also my friend and he has been an adviser to my efforts with Prosperity 101, especially through the process of writing my most recent book, as he worked together with economist Steve Moore to provide excellent economic information. In addition, he has been a previous guest on this podcast and I invite you to listen to Episode 79, Don’t Mess With Texas! Protecting Policies That Bring Freedom and Prosperity, and to episode Number 80, It’s Elementary! Education Policies Can Help or Hinder. Both episodes were recorded when E.J. was working with the Texas Public Policy Foundation and now he brings that experience and insight back to the broadcast with new information, especially related to the financial crisis facing our country today.

Thank you for joining with me again today, E.J., for this part two of this interview. It’s a pleasure to have you back on the podcast and I look forward to discussing this inflation crisis, but also to giving listeners some real action points and hope for how they can move forward in these trying times.

E.J. Antoni:  Trying times, I would say that’s an understatement. Yep, absolutely. But there’s always hope, I promise.

Linda J. Hansen:  Right. Yes, yes. So, well, that’s great. We want to give the listeners hope, but I really do want them to also have a realistic understanding of the current state of our national economy, and what it means to their daily life. I – you know, I went to the grocery store for – well, for listeners who may be just tuning into this episode, please go back and listen to the previous episode because we dive into a lot of the causes of inflation, and what is the difference between inflation, what’s the difference between, you know, inflation, and just simply high prices, what causes both. So, I invite you to go back and listen to that.

But as we start this one, I was thinking about how I went to the grocery store recently and decided not to buy several items that I normally do because of the prices. And I came home and told a friend that I was going on the Biden Diet. So, you know, I jokingly said, maybe now I can finally lose the 10 pounds that have been hanging around for a while. But, you know, I’m now on the Biden Diet and I planted a big garden and, you know, planning ahead and I just do not appreciate what’s happening in our nation. And I look and think how damaging it is for people all across this country.

I’ve heard reports that Walmart has put out a report that says, “People are buying more half gallons of milk than gallons of milk,” and that tells me that families are cutting back. So, this is a nutritional problem when I think of young children who might not be getting the nutrition they need because of the prices of these foods. And, you know, there’s just so many elements to this and we’re just touching on a few that, you know, we’re dropping these little topics in into a much bigger sea of results that are caused by poor economic policy. But maybe we can just start talking about the jobless rate and, you know, what employment numbers were, say, before COVID, you know.

Well, let’s even go back into the Obama administration and then see what the Trump presidency did for our economy, but then also look and say, “Okay. Yes, we had the problem with the pandemic and we were having that recovery after the pandemic.” And I know that President Biden says, “Oh, we made so many jobs, you know, these are the job numbers that we have and we’ve, you know, created this many jobs.” But in reality, they’re often jobs that just, like, came back after the recovery. So, they were jobs that were there before, but they weren’t really new jobs created, and we’re still going backwards. So, I’d love you to put some concrete numbers to that and help people understand what is truly fact because the media often muddles all of this and it can just be so confusing.

E.J. Antoni:  Sure, sure. Yeah, if we look at the most recent – we’ll take, I guess, the most recent events, and then work our way backwards from that. The jobs recovery under President Biden has actually been slower than the jobs recovery under President Trump. In other words, the number of jobs you were adding each month was faster post-COVID under Trump than President Biden. So, far from setting any kind of records, Donald Trump actually holds the records for the most jobs created in whether it’s four months, six months, eight months, because of that incredible post-COVID boom. But it’s not really a boom from the standpoint of those jobs are just being created from, you know, relatively normal standpoint, right? We saw a tremendous loss of 20 million jobs because we foolishly decided to shut down the entire economy or at least most of it. And so, a lot of those jobs, in fact nearly all of them, were simply just replacing jobs that were lost, and we’re still not back yet.

We still have not yet recovered, two years after COVID. Here we are and yet we still have not recovered all of the jobs we have lost yet. We still have a jobs deficit. And that’s just the baseline. But then you have to remember that we were already on an upward trend before COVID. So, not only are we not where we were, we’re well below the trend, and one indication of that is if you look at what’s called the labor force participation rate. And what that basically does is it tries to measure how many people are actually participating in the labor market. Whether they’re employed or not, it doesn’t matter. Just they’re either employed or if they’re not, they’re looking for a job, compared to the population. And that has dropped and it still has not recovered. And that drop in the labor force participation rate is almost 3 million jobs. I think it’s about 2.9, given the numbers that were released for the month of May.

So, this idea that we’re somehow back and everything’s fully recovered and back to normal, it really just hasn’t happened yet. But if you go back to Trump before COVID, it was an incredibly tight labor market. Very different from today’s labor market, though, even though some of the stats are the same. And the difference is that in today’s labor market, the primary driver is actually inflation. You know, people look around, and they’re like, “Oh, my gosh, why do we have a shortage of lumber? Why do we have a shortage of concrete? Why do we have a shortage of baby formula? Why do we have a shortage of workers?” Because workers are the commodity of the labor market and just like every other market, we’re having shortages here, shortages there. We’ve had one for the labor market, too, because there’s all this excess liquidity floating around the system and that drives up the demand for everything, including workers. And that’s part of the reason why nominal wages are rising so fast.

This is what – actually one of the fastest increases for nominal wages ever and yet real wages, which is just your nominal wages adjusted for inflation – real wages have fallen more than 4%, under Biden, more than 4%. So, for the average family, let’s say, you know, family of four, two parents working, right? That kind of stereotype. It’s about $4,800 a year in the tax of inflation that they’ve lost, even though their wages have risen. It’s as if they lost $4,800 in taxes, right? 

Linda J. Hansen:  Mm-hmm.

E.J. Antoni:  But if you go back again to Trump before COVID hits, the labor market was incredibly tight, not because there was inflation, there wasn’t. Inflation was at one of its tamest points for – oh, gosh, for decades.

Linda J. Hansen:  Right. It was at the lowest point it had been in, like, 40-50 years, wasn’t it?

E.J. Antoni:  Not – well, it depends. If we want to include some periods of recession, where you had deflation, where prices went down, then it would not be, but if you exclude those periods and we’re just talking about normal economic times, yeah. I mean, inflation was well below the Federal Reserve’s target rate of 2%. So, inflation was not an issue in the slightest, right? So, that had nothing to do with the labor market. It was simply the fact that businesses were able to expand so quickly because the economy was so prosperous that they needed more workers in order to produce more because workers were able to demand so much more. And unlike today where real wages are declining, under Trump real wages were increasing and fast. In fact, household income, which I’m not a huge fan of using that statistics because households change over time, right?

Linda J. Hansen:  Mm-hmm.

E.J. Antoni:  The number of people in a household changes as the years go on. The number of people working in a household also will tend to change years ago. By the time you were, you know, 16-17, you were working, and so, you’d be counted in household income. So, when we used to have very large families, you would have a lot of people working. And that’s very different from today, when you oftentimes have single parents, and they’re the only ones working. So, again, it’s not my favorite statistic, so take this with a grain of salt. But real household income had its largest increase ever when Trump was president – ever.

Linda J. Hansen:  That’s amazing.

E.J. Antoni:  I mean, that’s pretty astonishing, even given the limitations of that statistic. And some of that goes back to tax reform that Trump was a tremendous advocate for, and it was really his personality and his gravitas, if you will, that helped get that across the finish line when no one thought it actually would get past. That was back in 2017 or ‘18. I think it was.

Linda J. Hansen:  Right. Well, then he really had a focus on regulatory reform as well. And in the previous episode that you and I just recorded, we talked about how regulations can often bring a hidden tax to the American people as well. And so – I mean, I know I talked to a lot of business owners who were able to expand. They were able to give bonuses. They were able to raise the wages that they paid to their employees. They were able to do so much more, provide more benefits and things because the tax burden was decreased, the regulatory burden was decreased. And so, they were able to prosper and help their employees to prosper. So, you know, growth comes when we stop stifling growth, you know. It’s like Dr. Art Laffer always said, “If you want something more, tax it less. if you want something less, tax it more.” And it seems so common sense when we think about the real world, but when it comes to government doublespeak, it doesn’t come across that way through the media at all.

E.J. Antoni:  Right. No, actually that’s a perfect segue to the Obama years because I literally just had lunch with Art Laffer earlier this week, and one of the things we discussed was the recovery under Obama and how it really stands out. The reason we call that the Great Recession, which he inherited by the way, again in the spirit of bipartisanship here, right? It was not the policies of Obama that caused the financial crisis. It was the policies of George H. W. Bush, the policies of Bill Clinton, and the policies of George W. Bush that really put the mortgage and larger financial market in the position that it was, that precipitated that crash. So, Biden does not deserve any blame for the crash, where he deserves all the blame though.

Linda J. Hansen:  You mean, Obama? Didn’t –

E.J. Antoni:  I’m sorry. Excuse me – Obama.

Linda J. Hansen:  Yeah, that’s okay. That’s all right. Obama didn’t –

E.J. Antoni:  Where Obama deserves all the blame for the Great Recession though, is his response once he gets into office. And it’s called the Great Recession because the recovery was so painfully slow. Did we eventually recover fully? Yes. Did it take almost all eight years of Obama’s presidency? Yes. Why? One of the things we just mentioned, the regulatory state exploded. The Federal Register, which literally is just a giant book in Washington, D.C., that contains the entirety of Federal Regulations, it exploded under Obama, added tens of thousands of pages.

So, what happened, if you’re a business, it becomes incredibly hard for you to recover, for you to expand to get your business back to where it was. It makes it incredibly hard for the financial markets to lend money in order to allow businesses to get the capital they need to hire more workers to expand their facilities, et cetera, et cetera. So, far from a robust recovery, it was the slowest recovery since the Great Depression. And so, by the time that President Trump actually gets into office, right? In fact, we actually have some metrics, if you start looking at like what was happening with investment levels, which usually those go down before a recession by the way – if you started looking at various different forward-looking indicators, there was not much sunshine on the horizon, if you will, for the economy when Trump was elected. And yet, shortly thereafter, it took off. The stock market took off and it wasn’t just the stock market, which again today, that has risen because of inflation. But the market took off because businesses were genuinely doing better and then they were able to hire more workers and pay them more money. And it was such an incredible contrast if you just look at the growth rate between the Obama years and the Trump years, and how Obama was well below the historical trend, and Trump was above it.

Linda J. Hansen:  Yeah, it was such an exciting time and it was really instructional in terms of helping people understand cause and effect of policy because you could really begin to see how policy absolutely made such a difference. Because there was such a short time in the Trump years, the Trump administration, where things really began to turn around. You know, sometimes things take a long time to become noticeable to the average person. So, I’d say not the economist, but the average person, right? 

E.J. Antoni:  Mm-hmm.

Linda J. Hansen:  Well, I think that in the Trump years, people began to see, “Wow, there’s really something here that’s making a huge difference.” Well, now we’re in the Biden presidency and we can see, “Wow, there’s really something here that’s making an incredible difference,” but in the wrong direction. So, as we, you know, think about how to leave our listeners with some action points and some hope, what would you recommend to, you know, legislators at local, state, national levels, but also even to this administration, like what would be great to turn this economy around as quickly as possible?

E.J. Antoni:  Political pressure. In as few words as I could make it, political pressure. To your point, Linda, on just how fast these policies can have an effect, you know, sure, Trump was president for four years but all of the great things that he did that caused the economy to boom predated COVID. That was basically three years, almost the entirety of his last year in office was COVID. It was the pandemic. So, essentially, he got that economy, just rolling –

Linda J. Hansen: Rolling –

E.J. Antoni:  – and firing on all cylinders in only three years, which is pretty incredible. [crosstalk]

Linda J. Hansen: It takes bold leadership.

E.J. Antoni:  Right.

Linda J. Hansen:  Bold leadership and a lot of people, you know, when you think of – you know, a lot of people refer to the unit party. I call it the unit party. Sometimes in D.C. that Republicans and Democrats, who tend to vote for policies that equally hurt America and, you know, we need to be thinking about these America-first policies, the policies that truly help our economic agendas and help our people and our nation to be strong and have a strong security base, a strong base of sovereignty, all of that. And, you know, he did that.

E.J. Antoni:  Sure.

Linda J. Hansen:  He turned it around so quickly and it gave people hope. And so, you mentioned, too, that political pressure is what’s going to do this. You know, it takes bold leadership.

E.J. Antoni:  Right.

Linda J. Hansen:  I mean, to be able to turn that ship away from the unit party, and into a path that will truly help the next generation and be the statesman approach that we talked about. It’s going to take bold leadership from our elected officials, but it’s going to take bold leadership from grassroots individuals, correct?

E.J. Antoni:  Mm-hmm. Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, Donald Trump was in a lot of ways the great unmasker, if you will, because what he did is he showed us all that the establishment Republicans are far more establishment than Republican. And he showed –

Linda J. Hansen:  Mm-hmm. Absolutely. 

E.J. Antoni:  And he really exposed that idea of the unit party that you’re talking about.

Linda J. Hansen:  Right.

E.J. Antoni:  So, to get back to that idea of political pressure though, you don’t send good people to Washington to do the right thing, because they tend to very quickly be corrupted. Someone said to me very recently that – they said, “You know, E.J., you’re thinking about Washington all wrong. It’s not a city full of bad people. It’s a city full of weak people, right? These are people who just succumb to, you know, all these different human desires. They’re just – they’re very human.” That’s all there is to it.

Linda J. Hansen:  They’re just human. Mm-hmm.

E.J. Antoni:  And so, you don’t get things done in Washington. Good things that is, by sending good people there. What you do is you make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, and that’s exactly what we need to do. And, you know, then again – I mean, it is possible, certainly, with the left today because they have gone so far left, that they don’t really seem to care at all what the voters think anymore. Just that they only care about their ideology. I mean, that’s fine. Then maybe the solution is just voting them all out. Maybe there is no amount of political pressure that you can exert on them that will get them to do the right thing. That’s fine. But then whoever their replacement is, it’s not enough for us to just – I forget who it was who always used to use the phrase, “Vote the bums out of office,” right? 

Linda J. Hansen:  Mm-hmm.

E.J. Antoni:  That’s not enough. Because then once the new people get in there, if there’s not that political pressure to do the right thing to act responsibly, then they also will succumb to the exact same temptations that their predecessors did.

Linda J. Hansen:  Exactly. Well – and this is where I hope that in this time in America’s history, regular citizens are understanding the importance of them stepping up to defend their nation at every level. It takes patriots at every single level of involvement in a sense to truly help preserve our liberty. You know, eternal vigilance is the price of liberty and, you know, we often take it for granted. And we can see now as we have maybe, as a people, have taken our freedom for granted. You know, we can see that weak people have gone to Washington, D,C. Well, it’s our job as citizens to make sure that they know we’re watching. We’re holding them accountable and this is so important.

And, you know, with Prosperity 101, I’m always trying to encourage employers to educate employees about this because it’s also tied into their jobs. We’ve been talking quite a bit about the job rates and/or jobless rates and unemployment rates, and things. And you know, if we don’t have a strong economy, it’s hard for businesses to survive. So, there go the jobs. So, employers have a unique opportunity and I think a responsibility to help their employees understand some of these basic issues. So, what would you recommend to employers in how they might help employees understand how all these economic policies affect their daily lives and what they can do to kind of counteract the media narrative doublespeak?

E.J. Antoni:  Sure. No, it’s a great question. You know, the good Lord knows our education system has completely failed us in terms of educating people on these economic issues. So, I think you’re right. I think it really does fall in large part to businesses and actually, I should really clarify. But, you know, businesses have no responsibilities, right? Because businesses are not people. Only people can have a responsibility.

Linda J. Hansen:  Right.

E.J. Antoni:  So, what I really should say is business owners today have a responsibility to educate their employees on these issues. What does that look like? It looks like – it’s like this, like explaining to them, “Hey, you know, there are people out there who are on unemployment or other different kinds of welfare schemes that there are no longer work requirements for.” There used to be and then the Biden administration got rid of them. So, now they can stay on these different programs for either a much longer or sometimes an indefinite amount of time. Meanwhile, you’re here working and paying taxes to cover that. And not only are you paying employment taxes, I, as the business owner, am also paying employment taxes.

A lot of people don’t realize when you look at like your FICA taxes, for example, that will include things like your social security, not only are you paying that tax as the employee, the business owner is also paying that tax as well. You just never get to see that tax bill, because it’s not on your pay stub, like your portion is, but you are both having to pay for that. And a lot of people, a lot of employees, simply do not realize that all of these many rules, regulations, and taxes are in place, but the business owners are more likely to know it because they’re faced with it every single day. 

Linda J. Hansen:  Exactly.

E.J. Antoni:  So, things like that, I think are really important to educate people on and then also, just because a business is a place where people are going to gather – and I don’t necessarily mean like it’s like a service industry like a bar, let’s say, where the public gathers – I mean, just the employees themselves. Even if you’re a relatively small business and you have, let’s say, 10 employees, that’s still a group of 10 people. And you can say the same thing that you would have said to one person, but now 10 times the number of people are going to hear it. And so, you can start educating people on things like inflation. You can make this podcast available, let’s say. And now people are going to be familiar with Prosperity 101 and they’ll get to hear all this great information and these great ideas, and we’ll start disseminating this information out.

But whatever the case may be, whether it’s this or some other material that you want to distribute, I would not discount the fact that every business is essentially going to be in some way, shape, or form a gathering of people and therefore, a good way to get information out. I think one of the real tragedies of how, you know, so many people are not as involved today with things like churches, different social groups, right? Unfortunately, we – I think we kind of rely too much on just electronic communication, which, you know, I appreciate the irony that I’m speaking to you on a podcast right now. Okay? That’s not lost on me.

Linda J. Hansen: [Laughs] We’re looking at each other through a video connection.

E.J. Antoni:  Exactly.

Linda J. Hansen:  We’re not in person, but I – you know, it’s like anything. It can be a blessing or a curse. 

E.J. Antoni:  Right, right.

Linda J. Hansen:  I mean, we can use these tools for positive or negative things.

E.J. Antoni:  Yeah, and one of the downsides, I think, as we move away from those different kinds of in-person interactions, and obviously, people not going to church anymore has to do with a lot of other issues as well but, you know, the fact remains that those used to be outlets through which people would share this kind of information and they would have these discussions. And you had a huge ability to impact people’s lives and their way of thinking and, therefore, the political choices that they made, right?

Linda J. Hansen:  Mm-hmm.

E.J. Antoni:  I mean, how often anymore do you have like a young men’s or a young women’s group, where a bunch of people in the community actually get together in person? And maybe like, once a month, once every six months – I don’t know – someone has an idea where there’s an issue they all agree on, and they’re like, “Hey, we should all write our congressman or senator on this.” That kind of stuff just doesn’t happen anymore.

Linda J. Hansen:  Right. And when everyone’s in a remote office, it’s hard to gather around the watercooler or in the breakroom, and stuff. 

E.J. Antoni:  Right.

Linda J. Hansen:  So, employers – I loved it that you said they have basically a responsibility and I see it as not only that but a true opportunity to sort of re-educate. You mentioned how our education system has failed us. And I see, like, an entire generation, actually a couple of generations really, of kids that have come through and they’re young adults now, and they haven’t been taught the critical thinking. They haven’t been taught these basic economic policy concepts that really helped them think through these issues. And when they hear, you know, “Oh, the government’s going to pay for that,” they don’t realize, like, “Oh, that means I’m paying for that.” You know?

E.J. Antoni:  Right.

Linda J. Hansen:  Simple things. And so, employers, I really encourage you if you’re listening, you know, you have an opportunity to re-educate and really help save the republic. I mean, this is about saving our country, because if we literally go the path of socialism, which we are careening down that path very, very quickly, you know, we don’t have the same freedoms. We don’t have the same opportunity. So, even all these immigrants who are flooding our border now, hoping that America will be the land of milk and honey, you know, it’s no longer going to be there, because we will have abandoned the very policies that made us the greatest nation in the world.

So, you know, employers, please, as E.J. mentioned, you know, just speak up. Just explain these things in a simple way. You can share this podcast. You can share some of his articles. You’ll find them either on his LinkedIn or at Heritage Foundation, or things. But, you know, I have an online course that employers can share with employees. I have a book they can share. I have simple posters on my website that – you know, five posters, you could rotate them in a breakroom. I mean, just simple ways to help people understand some of these policies. And so, you know, just that education piece is what can bring us hope. So, as we close, if you would say, in your mind, what gives you hope? I mean, we’ve looked at a lot of things that are wrong with our economy right now, and a lot of things that look dismal in terms of the inflation and rising prices, and everything, but what gives you hope?

E.J. Antoni:  I would say it’s the same thing that for a lot of years has given me hope when I look at young people who very often sadly leave college indoctrinated instead of educated, and they get their first paycheck because many times kids today don’t actually work throughout high school or even through college. So, literally, their first paycheck a lot of times does not come until they’re 22 years old, which is amazing, because I look back and I started working at you know, at age 14.

Linda J. Hansen:  Yeah, me, too. I think I was 12.

E.J. Antoni:  So – but they get their first paycheck and they get all mad. And they say, “Why am I losing all this money on taxes? Oh, my gosh.”

Linda J. Hansen:  Right, right.

E.J. Antoni:  And they throw a fit about it and then I just crossed my arms and I say, “Told you so.”

Linda J. Hansen:  Right.

E.J. Antoni:  Now you’re starting to get it but, you know, because they’ve been so indoctrinated, it doesn’t immediately flip the switch for a lot of them, right?

Linda J. Hansen:  Right.

E.J. Antoni:  It’s going to take a little bit of time, but that planted the seed, right?

Linda J. Hansen:  It does. And you mentioned that and if you remember in the book, I have a section in the book and it’s also in my online course. It’s called, What Happened to the Rest of My Paycheck? And it’s just helping people understand, you know, you may look at all of this and think, “Well, wait, I’m supposed to be paid X amount per hour or week or month, you know, and how come I’m not getting that in my check?” And they don’t understand. A lot of times they think their employer is cheating them. But once they begin to realize, “Well, the government’s taking all that?”

E.J. Antoni:  Right.

Linda J. Hansen:  And like you said, it’s a great starting point for understanding. 

E.J. Antoni:  Yeah, so the parallel to that then today is, again, you have an entire – literally an entire generation of young people right now, who have no idea what inflation is, what causes it, why? Because we haven’t had this for over 40 years. So, again, literally, an entire generation don’t know what this is, don’t know – understand how to deal with it, et cetera. So, in a certain sense, you know, we actually should be grateful, because that means that the Federal Reserve hasn’t messed things up too badly for the last 40 years. But at the same time, it also means that the education system failed to educate these kids about the past. Okay?

Linda J. Hansen:  Mm-hmm.

E.J. Antoni:  But when they do wake up to this, and they say, “Oh, my gosh, why can’t I afford to fill my tank of gas? Why can’t I afford my groceries? Why can’t I afford not only a new car but not even a used car? Why can’t I afford to go on vacation?” Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, right? That’s a learning opportunity and that’s an opportunity for us to educate people and to get the word out. And it’s just one of those things where, you know, as human beings, it really is fascinating, right? If you think back and you say, “You know, isn’t it kind of funny how we all basically make the same mistakes our parents did?” And that was true for them and their parents and their parents, and so on.

Linda J. Hansen:  Right. Hopefully, we improve upon it as years go by. 

E.J. Antoni:  Right, hopefully. Hopefully. 

Linda J. Hansen:  Sometimes we circle back, right?

E.J. Antoni:   Right. But it’s just amazing as a species, we generally – if we don’t make a mistake ourselves, we generally have kind of an inability to learn from others. And – but the few times we do, those are the times the greatest advancements in human society are made, right?

Linda J. Hansen:  Mm-hmm.

E.J. Antoni:  But it still gives you a certain hope that once you do make that mistake yourself, people do tend to correct course, and hopefully, that’s where we’re at right now. Hopefully, we are at that inflection point.

Linda J. Hansen:  I hope so. And, you know, we’re seeing a record number of new people becoming involved in politics, you know, running for office, whether it’s local, state, or national levels. There’s people coming out of the woodwork in a sense, running for office. People who maybe never thought about that before, but they have had that tipping point in their life. They’ve begun to realize that we are truly at a point in America’s history where we could either lose everything that we’ve all worked for in America and everything that the patriots who gone – who went before us, you know, literally gave the ultimate sacrifice for us to appreciate. You know, we could lose it all, if we don’t wake up and pay attention, and eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. And, you know, I mentioned that quote, but it’s true and it takes every last one of us. So, I do appreciate you bringing that up that, you know, that is, in a sense, what can give us hope, is that citizens are waking up. Sometimes having hard things, you know, it’s kind of like you when the doctor tells you, you know, after your heart attack that you need to change your eating habits and exercise more, right? 

E.J. Antoni:  Mm-hmm.

Linda J. Hansen:  Well, we’ve got this economic crisis and a freedom crisis in America. And maybe that means we need to wake up, and we need to take care of what’s making America ill right now, and take care of the health of this republic. So, E.J., do you have any other closing comments before we sign off on this – in this great interview?

E.J. Antoni:  Well, I just – I guess I’ll run with the metaphor you just used with the doctor. You know, inflation is basically a cancer. Aside from looking at it as a tax, which it is, another good way to look at it as a cancer. And the longer you take to deal with it, the worse it gets. And despite all of the warnings from, you know, thought it wasn’t just me, right? I mean, there were tons of economists and other people who said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. You don’t want to do this, right? This is not going to be good for you. You shouldn’t be smoking. That’s going to give you lung cancer, right?”

Linda J. Hansen:  Mm-hmm.

E.J. Antoni:  And that was just ignored. And what happened? The patient now has lung cancer. And despite calling for a year for the Federal Reserve to change course, they didn’t. And now all of a sudden they finally are. So, how do you actually get rid of the cancer? Chemotherapy, right? 

Linda J. Hansen:  Mm-hmm.

E.J. Antoni:  That means higher interest rates. That means a recession in the short run, you know? It’s just like chemotherapy. It’s going to make the patient sick. But it’s not that making the patient sick is a good thing, that’s just a side effect of the medicine working. And so, you know, not just with the economy but with anything in life, right? Most things that are worthwhile involves short-term pain and long-term gain.

Linda J. Hansen:  Right. 

E.J. Antoni:  And, you know, that’s just as true for something like inflation, as it is for pretty much anything else –

Linda J. Hansen:  Right.

E.J. Antoni:  – in our lives. 

Linda J. Hansen:  Right. 

E.J. Antoni:  So, you know, again, just to kind of to double down on that message of hope. Even if at first things seemed like they’re getting worse and not better, sometimes that’s just the medicine working and we got to stick with it.

Linda J. Hansen:  Well, it is and then following along that line with the diet or the medicine, is then we have to decide to adopt a healthy diet to keep our bodies healthier, right?

E.J. Antoni:  Mm-hmm.

Linda J. Hansen:  Well, then we have to decide that we will adopt a healthier environment, political environment, and healthier policies that will truly keep our country healthy and vibrant. So, you know, I started this with talking about how a statesman thinks about the next generation, while a politician thinks of the next election. So, I hope that our conversation both in this episode and the previous one have helped our listeners to think things through more from a statesman mindset that we are going to have to go through some short-term pain to have long-term gain for our nation as we think of our children, our grandchildren, future generations of Americans. We want to make sure that the decisions we make and the policies we create now in America actually help to preserve this great nation for years to come. So, thank you, E.J. If people want to reach out to you, please share your contact information.

E.J. Antoni:  Sure, absolutely. They can find me on Heritage.org. There’ll be an About tab. They can click on that and then under that Staff, and that’s where they’ll find me and they can see, you know, they can find my body of work and also various ways to get in contact with me there.

Linda J. Hansen:  Okay, that is just great. So, listeners go to Heritage.org and you can find E.J. Antoni there. And thank you again, E.J. I look forward to having you back again in a few months possibly and we can revisit the conversations, but we really appreciate your work, your articles, the interviews you do, and just thank you for caring about America and doing so in such a detailed and scholarly way that helps to educate us all. So, thank you.

E.J. Antoni:  It’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me. 

Linda J. Hansen:  All right. Thank you.

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