Off and Running

The Far Middle episode 116 is dedicated to the great Jesse Owens. This episode’s August 9 release coincides with the 87th anniversary of Owens winning his fourth gold medal at the 1936 Summer Olympics. Nick reflects on Owens’ historic Olympics performance, including the stark difference in the way Owens was treated in Europe compared to his arrival home.

Following the “much-too-late dedication” to Owens, Nick examines a frequent Far Middle topic: the trouble facing many of America’s large cities. “The combination of the policies of the Left, being soft on crime, rampant and open drug use, remote work, broken public transit—those things are cumulatively and slowly squeezing new life out of America’s big city centers,” says Nick. He then highlights data points including cell phone activity and office occupancy rates that reaffirm the perilous state of America’s cities.

“All this big city financial pain and lack of vitality, it’s cascading into states,” says Nick, highlighting the budget woes of New York and California. “Tax revenues in states run by the Left, they’re plummeting big time.”

In assessing the cause of municipal, state, and national economic pain, Nick attributes rising interest rates as a key driver. And after a primer on the Federal Reserve and its inflation target, coupled with examples of the Left’s policies that are stoking the inflationary fire, Nick argues the Fed is nowhere near finished increasing interest rates.

“If you think that climate policies are not the root cause of inflation, and that inflation is well on its way to being tamed, consider our next connection regarding food prices,” says Nick. He calls out the increased price in items like pretzels, chips, cereal, and other prepackaged foods, which require substantial energy in their production, packaging, and ultimate delivery to grocery store shelves.

Nick pivots to Europe and the ECB, which is starting to finally look at reality as the ECB raised interest rates again at the end of July and is predicting inflation “to remain too high for too long.” But unfortunately, “the ECB won’t admit that the root of persistent and stubbornly high inflation in the EU emanates from climate policies,” says Nick.

Moving on from Europe, Nick comments on China’s recent announcement that it was restricting exports of germanium and gallium.

“China runs the supply chains of wind, solar, batteries, and EVs,” says Nick. “Policies in the West that mandate these things necessarily mean China then controls our grids and our roads. How’s that a good and desirable thing for us?” On a related topic, he questions a think tank’s study about the preparedness of Taiwan to withstand an attack from China—the study concluded that Taiwan should rely more on wind and solar in its grid to be better prepared for an attack from China.

In closing, Nick connects to another anniversary falling on the episode’s August 9 release date: the original 1854 publication date of Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden.” Listen as Nick recounts a few of his favorite lines from Thoreau’s awesome work.