There has long been a cottage industry of telling Americans they don’t save enough. One of many Wall Street Journal articles in this genre, for instance, was Kelly Greene’s “Workers Saving Too Little to Retire.” The U.S. government’s AboutUSA.gov site even included “save more” on a list of recommendations for citizens’ New Year’s resolutions.
But our government has long been waging war on savings, making it the cause of, rather than the solution to, low savings rates. As a result, Americans have fewer resources for investment, innovation, technological advancement, and education, which reduces real economic growth and citizens’ wellbeing. Recent policies have illustrated this to an impossible-to-miss extent.
For years, governments at all levels imposed COVID-related restrictions and shutdowns that forced vast numbers of Americans to draw heavily on their savings. Government “solutions,” like cash handouts before elections and higher unemployment benefits, only increased government debt, the financing of which requires that the government suck even more savings out of productive, private use.
The recent jump in inflation is the predictable effect of recent monetary policy profligacy, another part of government’s war on savings. Just ask any American who was faced with near double-digit inflation, but whose bank accounts were still paying interest rates under one percent.
Similarly, the President’s college loan proposal tells people to take past educational expenses they had already agreed to pay back out of other people’s pockets instead. Further, it tells them to borrow more for future education expenses as well, rather than to save for it, as they will be less likely to have to pay what they borrow. Saving less for college, and borrowing still more in order, ultimately, to raid other Americans’ pockets will also leave us with fewer resources to save.