Pelosi's Leninist Stimulus Bill
As soon as the Bolsheviks took over Russia in October 1917, Vladimir Lenin began churning out rubles. In fact, he spent half the state's revenue on just the printing of new currency. Within a year, the ruble was worth 100,000,000 times less than it had been before the communists took over. Existing rubles, and any investment denominated in rubles, were worthless.
Lenin's inflationary program was not a response to the need for an increased money supply. It was a deliberate strategy designed to eliminate money as a means of transactions and, with it, to crush capitalism. From that point on, the state would directly control the means of production and distribution, and the people would, in theory, be dependent on the state for all goods and services. In reality, Lenin's policy fostered a thriving black market, of which the communists were well aware and on which they relied to feed a segment of the population. So began 73 years of economic demoralization and corruption, driving the people of Russia to secrecy, callous indifference, and even cannibalism.
As Martin Amis writes in his book on the Soviet Union, Koba the Dread (2002) — from which much of my analysis and data are drawn — Lenin's inflationary policy rested on an underlying contempt for ordinary people, and especially for Russia. From the beginning, Lenin's strategy was to decimate the value of private property by means of inflationary printing of vast sums of money. Lenin cheered Russia's descent into starvation, believing that the crisis would increase his party's support among the peasantry. Those who were starving would have nowhere else to turn. It was an early example of never letting a crisis go to waste.
The only problem, as Lenin saw it, was that the Russian people were not dying off fast enough, and Lenin did all he could to help things along. Lenin's collectivization policy alone accounted for 11 million deaths. Altogether, just how many died under the communist terror is a matter of intense debate, much of it influenced by ideology, but Amis's estimate, based on data from Robert Conquest, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and others, adds up to some 100 million souls (Amis, pp. 82–83).
Now Nancy Pelosi has passed a fifth stimulus bill intended to keep the printing presses going in Washington. Having already approved trillions in COVID-19 aid, Pelosi now wants another $3 trillion. Pelosi said she was "thrilled" with the record-breaking HEROES Act, as she called it, with much of the spending directed at traditionally Democratic constituencies such as public-sector workers, teachers, students, and the poor. The bill contains student loan forgiveness, extension of unemployment benefits, and another $1,200 in stimulus money for individuals and up to $6,000 for households, including checks for illegal aliens. The bill also restores the State and Local Income Tax (SALT) deduction popular in blue states and promotes early voting and mail-in voting that might favor Democrat candidates.
One of the most insidious aspects of Pelosi's bill is that it would continue the distribution of funds to every American making less than $100,000. Most of those persons have already received a stimulus check of $1,200, in many cases on top of unemployment benefits and other support. Indefinite support is especially dangerous: workers can become accustomed to "free" income in a very short time. Once the cash spigot has been turned on, it will be difficult to turn it off.
That is just what the Democrats want. A guaranteed income would be popular among the poor, especially among those who have no intention of ever working, but printing another $3 trillion or more each month would soon undermine the value of that distribution, and it would come at the cost of anyone who holds cash or bonds. That includes trillions invested in retirement annuities, life insurance, and ordinary savings. The Democrats' program would create an inflationary crisis that would reduce the value of money, just as Lenin did in post-revolutionary Russia, in effect weakening the capitalist system and replacing it with dependence on government distributions.
I don't know whether Nancy Pelosi has read enough history to know what she is doing, but those who influence her certainly have, and they have taken their cue from Lenin. Even a politician as daft as Pelosi should realize that the printing of $6 trillion or more in fiscal stimulus will undermine the value of existing currency and investments. The federal reserve has expanded its balance sheet at the fastest rate in history, with expectations of it reaching $10 trillion by early 2021. We are already seeing the effects of this inflationary policy as prices of basic goods begin to spike and as shortages multiply. Grocery prices rose in April at the highest rate in 50 years, and there is no reason why this increase will not continue.
That seems to be what Democrats are praying for, just as Lenin prayed (no, he didn't pray) for mass starvation. The perennial strategy of the left, outlined in Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, is to foment a crisis and force government action as the "solution." Pelosi, who stockpiles $13-a-pint ice cream in her $24,000 fridge, appears to share Lenin's contempt for ordinary people. Hunger and shortages are mounting, and Democrats are eager to take advantage of the crisis. Even as the masses were starving, Lenin and his cronies were eating well.
The result of unrestrained spending is permanent damage to our economy. Once the inflationary genie is out of the bottle, it's hard to put it back, and there are lasting consequences of lingering recession and government budget instability. We're not starving the way Russians were under Lenin, but we are seeing widespread shortages and substantial price increases. Liberals cheer these developments, however painful they may be to ordinary Americans. As more persons are impoverished, they are forced to turn to government, and liberals are eager to pass expensive measures of support that exacerbate the crisis.
All of this was child's play to Lenin, one of the most ruthless and evil politicians in history. As the latest stimulus bill shows, inflationary spending is becoming child's play to Pelosi as well. She sits in her Pacific Heights house with its freezer full of sweets, or at her Napa Valley vineyard or D.C. condo, thinking up ways to increase the dependence of ordinary Americans on government, and with it increased power and wealth to the political elite of which she is the head.
Pelosi seems intent on bringing state control of the economy to America. Another word for "state control of the economy" is communism. Only GOP control of Congress and the presidency can stop her.
Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).