Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

Could A Big Mac Sink Biden?

There is little doubt that a Big Mac could end Donald Trump's campaign—by being the last straw in years of an unhealthy diet. But Biden? Maybe, but in a different way. A story circulating on social media is from a man named Topher Olive who went into a McDonalds in Post Falls, ID, and ordered a special limited edition smoky double quarter pounder with fries and a Sprite. The meal cost $16.10 and he posted the receipt to TikTok. The story went viral, with many reposts all over social media. Few, if any, of the postings noted that the hamburger was a very special limited edition novelty item and that a normal Big Mac averages $5.58 around the country.

Olive's clear intent was to show that inflation is running rampant and it is Joe Biden's fault. In fact, it just shows that one specialty item in one store in Idaho 11 months ago was very expensive (although a hamburger that size with fries and a drink in a different restaurant might well have been a similar price). But Democratic officials don't know what to do. Should they have the president go buy a Big Mac in D.C. and post the receipt to show the actual price? If he did, the story might become "Why is McDonalds discriminating against people in red states?"

But the incident shows that it is very hard to demonstrate that inflation is now down to 3%—which is historically fairly low—when people simply compare the 2019 price of some item they buy often with the current price. In fact, even if the inflation rate hit 0% now, the current price of almost everything is higher than it was in 2019. A lot of people don't even understand what the inflation rate is (it is the first derivative with respect to time of the price function that is, dp/dt; where p(t) is the price of something over time).

Democratic strategists don't agree on how to handle inflation. Some want to stop touting Biden's accomplishments and start hitting the Republicans' plans. Others want to blame greedy corporations for price increases.

One thing that is clear is that social media is painting a much bleaker picture of the economy than what exists in the real world. One TikTok video that has received 2.3 million views claims there is a silent depression. Another with 2.1 million views says that people now have the lowest purchasing power in American history. Back on Planet Reality, disposable income per capita adjusted for inflation is now 5x as big as it was in 1930. Of course, when someone claims George Washington bought his first iPhone for $14.95 plus tax, how do you refute that? TikTok is chock full of lies and false information about the economy.

Biden could make a video for TikTok with graphs showing purchasing power over time, but a lot of people never understood graphs in 7th grade and certainly don't now. Besides, he would then be compared to Ross Perot. One thing he can do (and is doing) is work with TikTok content creators to show how their business or situation is doing great, better than ever. If he could get 100 top content creators to make clever videos showing that the economy is definitely working for them, that could perhaps influence public opinion, especially among the young people who dominate TikTok.

But it will be tough. Zaid Admani, a content creator with nearly 400,000 followers, posts about finance and economics. He noted that young people are increasingly learning about economics from TikTok and that is why they have a negative view of the country's economic outlook. He said: "People feel a sense of dread." Biden will have to deal with that, like it or not. (V)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates