As American workers grapple with soaring inflation—the consumer price index rose 6.2 percent since last October, the largest single-year increase in 30 years—the Biden administration has a plan: spend lots of money.
President Joe Biden said this week that the government spending authorized by the "Build Back Better" agenda will make goods affordable again by subsidizing Americans' costs and making workers more productive.
A New York Times piece that attempts to defend the administration's contentions does concede, however, that a result of all this spending could be a temporary increase in inflation:
A wide range of economists agree with the president — but only in part. They generally accept his argument that in the long run, the bill and his infrastructure plan could make businesses and their workers more productive, which would help to ease inflation as more goods and services are produced across the economy.
But many researchers, including a forecasting firm that Mr. Biden often cites to support the economic benefits of his proposals, say the bill is structured in a way that could add to inflation next year, before prices have had time to cool off.
Some economists and lawmakers worry about the timing, arguing that the risk of fueling more inflation when it has reached record highs outweighs the potential benefits of passing a big spending bill that could help to keep prices in check while addressing other social goals. Prices have picked up by 6.2 percent over the past year, the fastest pace in 31 years and far above the Federal Reserve's inflation target.
Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who was also the director of the National Economic Council during the Obama administration, criticized Biden this week for not taking inflation seriously. According to the New York Post:
"I think we're speeding down the road at a really rapid rate," Summers told CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time" Wednesday. "It's kind of a downhill road. And it's not going to be so easy to put the brakes on here. And that's why I'm concerned."
Summers spoke on the same day that the Labor Department announced that its Consumer Price Index, which measures the cost of a basket of goods and services as well as energy and food, had jumped 6.2 percent in October from a year earlier — the biggest 12-month rise since 1990.
"I think that the policymakers in Washington, unfortunately, have almost every month been behind the curve," Summers said Wednesday. "They said it was transitory; it doesn't look so transitory. They said it was due to a few specific factors; doesn't look to be a few specific factors. They said when September came and people went back to school, that the labor force would grow, and it didn't happen."
Sen. Joe Manchin (D–W.Va.), who will cast the deciding vote on any significant piece of spending legislation, is known for being deeply concerned about inflation, and may kill or delay the "Build Back Better" agenda to prevent it from getting worse.
Administrative bloat in higher education has gotten so bad over the last three decades that many universities now employ more administrators than professors. But the problem at Yale University is even more serious than that: Yale has more administrators than undergraduate students. According to the Yale Daily News:
Over the last two decades, the number of managerial and professional staff that Yale employs has risen three times faster than the undergraduate student body, according to University financial reports. The group's 44.7 percent expansion since 2003 has had detrimental effects on faculty, students and tuition, according to eight faculty members.
In 2003, when 5,307 undergraduate students studied on campus, the University employed 3,500 administrators and managers. In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic's effects on student enrollment, only 600 more students were living and studying at Yale, yet the number of administrators had risen by more than 1,500 — a nearly 45 percent hike. In 2018, The Chronicle of Higher Education found that Yale had the highest manager-to-student ratio of any Ivy League university, and the fifth highest in the nation among four-year private colleges.
A roughly one-to-one undergraduate-to-administrator ratio has negative implications for freedom of expression and due process on campus, since the chief role of much administrative staff is to micromanage campus life. The more vice presidents of student services, diversity, and inclusion, the more investigations, seminars, and events aimed at suppressing students' and professors' rights.
The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow is wrapping up, and it's not clear if participating countries reached anything approaching a sweeping deal. According to The New York Times:
As international climate change talks in Glasgow hurtled toward the closing hours, a new draft agreement released on Friday morning called for a doubling of money to help developing countries cope with climate impacts, and called on nations to strengthen their emissions-cutting targets by next year.
But much of the text in the draft — intended to push negotiators toward a deal that all nations can agree on — remained contentious for many countries. Disputes remain over money, the speed of emissions cuts and indeed whether an agreement should even mention "fossil fuels" — the principal cause of climate change, but a term that has never before appeared in a global climate agreement.
The differences, after nearly two weeks of negotiations, signaled that it would be difficult for negotiators to reach the sort of sweeping agreement that activists and scientists had urged before the start of the United Nations talks, known as COP26. Scientific consensus says that the world must slash greenhouse-gas emissions by nearly half by 2030 in order to stave off the most disastrous effects of global warming. But under countries' current targets, emissions would continue to rise.
• Michigan's attorney general had too much to drink at a football game and got sick. While this is a completely normal human experience, NBC News apparently felt it merited a stern and scolding write-up.
• One of the defense attorneys representing the three men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery asked the court to bar Reverend Al Sharpton from sitting with the victim's family, calling this jury intimidation.
• Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie may be interested in running for president, regardless of what former President Donald Trump does.
• Trump on January 6 calls to hang former Vice President Mike Pence: "Well, the people were very angry."
• Asian students do not qualify as students of color:
We're at the point in the discourse when colleges have created the highly scientific and totally legitimate racial category of "Students of Color, minus Asian" pic.twitter.com/3Nzgs6Iszt
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) November 10, 2021
• The defense rests in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.