One of the great economists of our time, Murray Rothbard, nailed years ago with this statement:
It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.
What’s worse is being in a position that attempts to place controls on the economy while also being in this state of ignorance. Mat Erpelding of the Idaho House of Representatives recently reminded us that this often describes politicians. He spoke up against Idaho House Bill 206 and spoke about gold and inflation.
Mat Erpelding clearly has no idea what inflation is. He undoubtedly thinks that a rise in price is inflation. When my grocer ceteris paribus raises the price of apples from $1.69/lb to $1.79/lb, that is not inflation. A general rise in prices signals inflation; it is a symptom. Inflation is the loss of purchasing power of money due to an increase in its supply.
There is plenty of information available on the subject. Ron Paul is a good start:
He tried to defend himself on Twitter and even addressed a few of my comments:
Erpelding claims that he is not economically illiterate and attributes the “terrible statement” to his use of an ad hoc argument. He wants us to believe that he just had a bad moment, the kind that we all have from time to time. I don’t buy that. You don’t make that kind of an error if you have any sort of understanding of the topic. You don’t sit there and think about exactly what you’re going to say in front of a lot of people in an attempt to embarrass your opposition unless you’re very confident with what you’re about to say.
To show just how terribly asinine Erpelding’s statement was, imagine someone saying:
You think that red wine stains clothes? Here’s a shirt that got a big red stain after I poured wine on it. So much for red wine staining clothes!
It’s not as though the statement is “poorly crafted.” It is utterly contradictory and screams of ignorance. You cannot blame that on ad hoc arguments sometimes being kind of tricky to use.
Just remember, Mat Erpelding’s decisions affect people’s lives. Let that sink in.