Letter: Inflation the wrong issue to focus on

We need to ask every candidate what their priorities are

Inflation the wrong issue to focus on

Any student of history knew at the start of the pandemic that, whatever else the outcome would be, we would see an increase in labour costs and production shortfalls, leading to scarcity of consumer goods and rampant inflation. Roman historians made the connection between Egyptian plagues driving up the price of corn in Ostia, and in the ensuing 2,000 years every mass outbreak has had the same result.

The Black Plague, for example, created such a demand for labour that escaped serfs were transformed from unwanted fugitives to indispensible employees. Cities that had need of a proletariat created one by harbouring them from the King’s justice until they became free. The new urban workforce had to be paid, though, so costs went up. A scarcity of farm labour resulted and crop shortages forced prices up. Is there a pattern forming?

Time, space and the patience of the reader suggest I need not get into such detail regarding the recurrence of the plague in Jacobean England, or the myriad epidemics of typhus, cholera, influenza since. Trust me and we can move on to my point, which is that those politicians attempting to claim that they can do anything about the economic uncertainty as we evolve our way into the post-COVID world are claiming they can control the elemental forces of nature, which only proves that they do not even understand them.

This is unfortunate, because we need a government prepared to accept that understanding the elemental forces of nature and addressing the disastrous results of climate change is far more important than pretending we can do anything about inevitable global economics. The issue in this election is not prices, which are going up anyway; the issue is the survival of our forests, which are going up in smoke. We need to ask every candidate what their priorities are.

David Lowther

Mesachie Lake