The greatest central banker in my professional lifetime was Paul Volcker. His signal achievement was bringing down the inflation rate from roughly 15 percent to about 3 percent more than three decades ago. The simplest way to look at the economic evils of runaway prices is to think of inflation as a tax hike -- on consumers, savers, investors, corporate profits, capital gains, and so on. One humongous tax hike. And it was the myriad tax-hike effects of high inflation that wrecked the American economy in the 1970s.