Inflation Is No Mirage - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Inflation Is No Mirage


A glorious day in Rancho Mirage, California. Our house there looked wonderful, as it always does. Floor-to-ceiling windows opening onto our pool and then the golf course. My pal Jeff, who drove us down there in my super car, the Audi S8, a dream on wheels, noticed as we came into the breezeway that leads to our living room, two little furry creatures hanging from the door jamb of our front door.

To my horror, upon inspection, they turned out to be baby BATS!!!! I hate bats, and since COVID have hated them even more. I called our housekeeper, Jacqueline, to get them taken away.

Then, a quick trip to our closest grocery store, Gelson’s. That’s a much more expensive store than I usually patronize. But I was going to make dinner on my grill, so I wanted a great grade of meat. Gelson’s has the greatest, so there I was. I bought steaks for Jeff and me. Prime grade rib eye. About one pound for each of us.

Then home to grill the steaks. They looked and smelled and tasted delicious. It was only as I was cleaning up the meal that I saw the wrapping for the steaks. I literally gasped: $50.99 per pound. I must be going blind. I thought it had been $30.99, which would have been plenty high enough. But $50.99??? I felt sick. The steak no longer tasted or smelled good.

Is this Weimar-style super-inflation? It can’t be. Very good prime rib eye at Pavilions is about $20 a pound less. This Gelson’s steak suddenly was nauseating. My own fault, however. I hope I won’t do that again.

I lay in my bedroom in the house with a roaring fire burning in my fireplace and authentic Wegman lithographs of Fay, the great Weimaraner, staring at me.

In the middle of the night, I awakened with a searing pain in my right hand. I turned on the lights and looked at my hand.

Spider bites everywhere. I must have gotten them when I was at the grill. It’s near a thicket of trees. I guess some evil spiders had dropped onto my hand and bitten me. The pain was breathtaking. I took some medicine and went back to sleep, but, wow, was that pain amazing.

After breakfast, I swam for a long time, staring up at the jets streaking in towards PSP. I have always loved that sight.

Then, off to answer mail, and later into my super car and back to Beverly Hills. Jeff was driving. As we rode along, I noticed that a huge percentage of the cars near us were (was?) electric vehicles. Why? I talked to a very smart friend on the phone about it. He said that it was so that the air would be cleaner. After all, an electric car burns no gasoline so it cannot produce any pollutants. Right?

Well, not exactly. For one thing, we are looking at the wrong metric. Pollutants produced in our great USA are a part, but only a part, of the pollutants in our air. A much larger quantum comes from the immense coal-fired electricity generating plants in China. The Chinese are still building these fast and in scale. So, that’s a super-problem we are not doing and cannot do anything about.

For another thing, we still do not know with any degree of certainty what the cause of global climate change is, and we do not know with any precision just how much climate change there has been. Some studies say that portions of the Earth are getting colder, not hotter. And many studies say the Earth’s atmosphere was much hotter a few centuries before industrialization than it is now. We may be struggling against a problem whose dimensions and causes are still not clearly known.

But another issue I have never seen discussed is this: when we plug in our electric cars to be charged up, a great gush of electricity comes out of that plug, and thank God. But where does that electricity come from?

In part it comes from hydro power and in very small part from wind and solar. But mostly, it comes from coal-fired plants making electricity. That juice that we power up our Tesla and Volts with comes from some source generating a vast amount of heat. In many instances, that source is coal. There’s no free lunch.

Is more pollution made by cars burning gasoline than is made by coal-fired plants producing electricity to be stored in car and truck batteries? I don’t know. It’s a complex equation. But, again, there is no free lunch, and that cute Tesla has an environmental price, too. Something has to produce the heat that makes the steam or whatever it is that shoots the electricity into our sockets. I wonder how that calculation goes.

Anyway, I thought about this and we sped home. To my sorrow, when we got home, there was no fresh loaf of Pepperidge Farm bread to make the French toast I thrive on. Plus, I had emails from a dear friend whose husband is with her in Nice, France, dying before her eyes from pancreatic cancer.

Life is much too hard for us humans, the only species that lives most of its life knowing it has to die.

Alex and I prayed at great length, and then I tried to sleep, but the pain in my hand was unbearable. I took aspirin and finally slept. Are we going to be humiliated in Taiwan? Is McAuliffe, a stunning liar, a top-grade liar in a world class of liars, going to win in Virginia? I watched him on TV and thought I would be sick. Instead, I went to sleep. My wife is just down the hall. I suddenly realized it was Halloween. But we don’t give out candy any longer. Last year, a band of young men tried to force their way into our house on Halloween. Our housekeeper, Jennifer, saved us by slamming the door. I was out of town. My wife had been terrified.

No more Halloween. No more trick or treat. Just tricks.

Ben Stein
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Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes “Ben Stein’s Diary” for every issue of The American Spectator.
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