My friend Dave Sr. owns the diner up the road and runs it with his son, Dave Jr. The family business is coming up on its fortieth anniversary, and Dave Sr., who’s eighty now — though you’d never guess it — reflected to me recently on the mom ‘n pop shops that have disappeared over the last fifty years or so. He and another local old-timer counted dozens that used to dot the two-lane road between our town and the next town over.

“Now, I don’t think you can count more than five or six [small...

My friend Dave Sr. owns the diner up the road and runs it with his son, Dave Jr. The family business is coming up on its fortieth anniversary, and Dave Sr., who’s eighty now — though you’d never guess it — reflected to me recently on the mom ‘n pop shops that have disappeared over the last fifty years or so. He and another local old-timer counted dozens that used to dot the two-lane road between our town and the next town over.

“Now, I don’t think you can count more than five or six [small businesses]!” Dave Sr. said. “And they all made a living out of these places. Between government intervention and red tape and so forth, people are afraid to get into small business.”

Running a small business is the epitome of the American Dream. By working hard and being resourceful, Americans have — historically, at least — been able to support their towns and families, take pride in what they do, and achieve self-reliance. These are all things big government hates. So it’s no wonder inflation, which hurts small towns the most, is skyrocketing out of control, while the Biden administration dismisses it as a “high class problem.”

Dave Sr., Dave Jr., and millions of other rural Americans know the true costs of inflation better than anyone. Dave Jr. told me he’s had to raise the prices of menu items three times already this summer. The price of eggs has risen by more than 60 percent. When the cost of inflation is passed onto the consumer, they cut back on excessive expenditures. That means an elderly widower’s twice-weekly trip to the diner — where he catches up with old friends, makes new ones, finds someone to help him mow his lawn, and enjoys social interactions that extend his life — comes to an end. The ten-year-old girl who bonds with her grandmother over pancakes every Saturday morning stays at home now, because there’s not enough money for gas and food. It’s not long before the diner disappears and there’s nowhere left for people to meet and mingle.

An exposé in the New Yorker this month examines how inflation recently forced a BBQ restaurant in Texas to cut its hours and reduce its portions, the effects of which, the author shows, “rippled through the community.” Five miles from me, a family seed and feed store is shuttering its doors after forty-seven years “because of the increase in costs of freight and supplies.” In a heartbreaking interview, the eighty-seven-year-old owner told our local TV news station:

I’ve watched customers’ kids grow up and they’ve became my customers. Sometimes their kids will say they used to come to my farm when they were little. …I enjoyed all of that.

Multiply these scenarios times every person in every American small town, add them to the struggles of the small business owner, and you’ll conclude, as the Iowa Small Towns Project at Iowa State University did earlier this month, that “Inflation is a bigger problem for rural households than for those living in cities.”

Dave Sr. says “government intervention and red tape and so forth” prevents people from becoming entrepreneurs, and the numbers are startling. Inc.com reports:

The Kauffman Foundation, citing its own research and drawing on US Census data, concluded that the number of companies less than a year old had declined as a share of all businesses by nearly 44 percent between 1978 and 2012. And those declines swept across industries, including tech. Meanwhile, the Brookings Institution, also using Census data, established that the number of new businesses is down across the country and that more businesses are dying than are being born.

Inflation, a Forbes Advisor survey found, is the number one worry of small business owners. But is inflation really government’s fault? Well, if Milton Friedman is any sort of an authority, then that’s a resounding yes. As Friedman explained in 1963:

It is always and everywhere, a monetary phenomenon. It’s always and everywhere, a result of too much money, of a more rapid increase in the quantity of money than an output. Moreover, in the modern era, the important next step is to recognize that today, governments control the quantity of money. So that as a result, inflation in the United States is made in Washington and nowhere else.

If you listen to people in Washington talk, they will tell you that inflation is produced by greedy businessmen or it’s produced by grasping unions or it’s produced by spendthrift consumers, or maybe, it’s those terrible Arab Sheikhs who are producing it. Now, of course, businessmen are greedy. Who of us isn’t? Trade unions are grasping. Who of us isn’t? And there’s no doubt that the consumer is a spendthrift. At least every man knows that about his wife.

But none of them produce inflation for the very simple reason that neither the businessman, nor the trade union, nor the housewife has a printing press in their basement on which they can turn out those green pieces of paper we call money.

What is America without small business and thriving little rural towns? It is a soulless place infested with a handful of homogenized corporations lacking in — gasp! — diversity and a depressed, drug-addicted, welfare-dependent citizenry.

You know, the Democrats’ American Dream.