Are our measures of inflation flawed?
Most economists and governments measure inflation as the year-over-year change in prices. In times of a fairly stable and slow movement in prices this may be a very reasonable way to look at inflation. However, when there are dramatic shifts in the economic performance and in prices this approach may be misleading.
Let’s look at a simplified example of gasoline prices to illustrate the point. These numbers are approximations for the prices at given times to show the impact and not an accurate depiction of any particular area of the country. Say the price of a gallon of gas in November, 2019 was $3.25. Because of the impact of the pandemic on driving the price of gas dropped to $2.25 in November, 2020. The price of gas in 2020 was 69 percent of the price in 2019, or a drop of 31 percent. As the economy rapidly increased in 2021 and people started driving again the price rose to $3.34 in November, 2021. This resulted in the price of gas rising by 53 percent over the year. My god, it is time to panic! However, if we look at what happened over the two-year span of time, prices went from $3.25 to $3.34, or an increase of 6 percent over two years. This would be roughly equivalent to a price inflation of 3 percent per year. Not much to be very concerned about.
While this is a simple example of only one commodity, and some commodities have seen a much larger increase, this is one that has been often in the headlines. To gauge the real impact of the price increases on the economy and what it means for the future we need to look at the numbers over the two-year span. If prices in general declined 2.5 percent during 2020 and went up by 7 percent from 2020 to 2019, this would be a longer run increase of only 4.5 percent over the two-year period. High, but not a reason to panic.
William L. Sartoris, Sanibel, emeritus professor of Finance, Indiana University
'Discomfort' in education
In my many years as an educator of both adults and children, parent and grandparent of public-educated children, an advanced degree holder in several facets of education, I can honestly say I am shaken about the governor’s calls to remove any “discomfort” from teaching of our history.
Just a few years ago, there was a similar fluff around “trigger warnings.” Many op-eds were written about coddling our teenagers/young adults and the need to make them confront difficult situations. Most of these commentaries laid this policy at the feet of elite liberals in colleges and universities.
Now some of our leaders are telling us the opposite. So which path is better for our children and our society?
Public schools are the place where are children are to get prepared for life. Learn skills and discipline to hold a job; learn how to get along with and respect people who aren’t just like themselves; and most importantly get the necessary critical thinking skills to become active participants in our society. All these require our young people to confront difficult issues and make decisions.
Unless you know where you have been you will not know where to go. Pushing our history -- the good and the bad -- under the rug hamstrings our children in coming up with better solutions than we made in the past.
Give our kids some credit. Give them the facts and help them sort them out. May they leave the planet a better place than one they inherited.
Elly Leary, Naples
Understanding governor's motives
I’ve been scratching my head for a while now, wondering why Gov. DeSantis wants to discourage people from getting vaccinated and wearing masks during a deadly pandemic that’s killed more than 60,000 Floridians. The governor is smart enough to know that the vaccine helps keep people from dying of COVID-19. That's why he got his own vaccinations and almost certainly the booster he’s so secretive about.
So why is he fighting mask and vaccine mandates? And why would he suspend Dr. Raul Pino, a highly respected health official who merely suggested that health department employees should get vaccinated?
The governor says he's doing it because he believes in “freedom,” but he’s not trying to repeal seatbelt laws or anti-smoking laws, remove traffic lights and stop signs, undo speeding laws, cancel traditional required vaccinations for schoolchildren, encourage motorcyclists not to wear helmets, stop food inspections, or get rid of any other safety restrictions that help keep people from dying. And he obviously doesn’t care about Dr. Pino's “freedom.”
I can only see three possible explanations, none very flattering to the governor.
1. A major donor to DeSantis' campaign has invested in Regeneron. The more people who get sick from COVID-19, the more that donor’s stock is worth.
2. DeSantis imagines that he’ll be running against Donald Trump for the nomination, and running for president against Joe Biden. The longer the pandemic goes on, the less likely it is that Trump or Biden will get credit for helping to end it.
3. The governor thinks that Republicans are dumb enough to vote for him because he pretends to believe in “freedom," while supporting policies that are killing them by the thousands.
Bob Ray, Fort Myers Beach
Program warms disabled vet
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people of Fort Myers who make LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) possible. This cold spell would have been much more difficult to endure for a low-income disabled veteran like myself, had it not been for your generosity. I was not forced to choose between paying a full electric bill, or having bearable temps and clean clothing. I have both now. My warm feet thank your warm hearts.
Richard Fint, Fort Myers
Deaths of the unvaccinated
A recent hospital report stated that 2 percent of its patients who died of COVID-19 had been vaccinated. It also stated that 98 percent of those who died of COVID-19 had NOT been vaccinated. You choose.
Robert Hilliard, Sanibel
Paper a biased, leftist rag
Your constant viscous attacks on President Trump and Gov. DeSantis in your editorials, articles and letters to the editor are offensive, disgusting and often untrue.
Slanted articles from USA Today and liberal east coast papers do not represent Southwest Florida and are seldom balanced with other points of view.
Why don't you even try to be fair and include an equal number of letters/articles from both persuasions?
When you lambaste Mr. Trump and DeSantis, why don't you ever mention Biden's Afghanistan disaster, America's loss of energy independence, massive inflation, foreign policy mess with Russia, Ukraine, and China, etc?
Fair is fair and you have shown yourself to be a biased, leftist rag.
Thomas Harakal, Naples
Common sense on school board
Betsy Vaughn hits the nail on the head with this spot-on editorial. Teachers have long been underappreciated and underpaid. The current powers that be love to tout their concern for quality education but give that goal little more than lip service. Lee County has long operated under the mantra "Pack 'em deep and teach 'em cheap!"
It is nice to see one common sense member on the school board. Way to go, Betsy!
Steve Solak, Fort Myers
Leave insanity up North
The free state of Florida welcomes the masses fleeing the tyranny of psycho-liberalism in the Northeast and Midwest. Please leave the insanity in the Great Frozen Northland.
Steve Pelle, Fort Myers
This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Letters to the editor for Thursday, January 27, 2022