Let’s talk about inflation for a few minutes. Log onto any news site and you will see something about the current rate of inflation. Many, even among the mainstream news, have chosen to blame President Biden, but they are turning a blind eye to the reality … it’s easier to pick on the president than do a bit of digging into the causes, right?
First, let’s narrow this discussion to the price of food, for everything else is irrelevant or unnecessary when you get down to the bare bones. You have to eat, you must have carrots, but you don’t have to have that new pair of shoes or even the latest James Patterson book. The grocery store is the one place where everyone, no matter their station in life, skin colour, religion, or gender is going to feel the pinch in times of high inflation.
Now … let me ask you a question: do you think that the big food producers have suffered a loss in profits in these times of inflation and are raising their prices just in order to stay afloat? If you answered ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’ to that question, you are in for a big surprise. No, their profits are actually increasing … think about that one for a minute … their profits are increasing while you and I are struggling to afford enough food to keep our family healthy.
Let’s take Tyson Foods, for one example …
Earlier this week, executives at the largest meat processor in the country detailed how dramatically they have raised prices. In the last three months of 2021, Tyson Foods’ “average beef prices rose by nearly one-third while pork prices increased by 13 percent, and chicken by 20 percent,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
The company is blaming everything from labor shortages to supply chain woes for these price hikes, but the reality is that their quarterly profits more than doubled, driven up by surging profit margins for beef, pork, and chicken. Tyson’s stock price jumped 12 percent after this news broke.
Tyson isn’t the only food producer that’s raising prices. Mondelez — whose brands include Oreo, Ritz, Wheat Thins, and Triscuits — saw its gross profit increase by more than $800 million in 2021, but still jacked up prices by up to 7 percent in January and is leaving the door open to raising them again. McDonald’s prices rose more than 6 percent last year. In the company’s latest earnings call, the CFO credited strong sales and “strategic menu price increases.” Overall, their net sales for the year rose 13 percent to more than $6 billion thanks to these menu price hikes.
Granted, supply chain issues, labour shortages, and the pandemic are real issues, but the inflation you’re seeing at the grocery store is more often due to … corporate greed.
And now another question: given the higher levels of corporate profits, do you think these corporations are giving their employees nice raises of at least 7.5% to match the rate of inflation? Again, if you answered either ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’ you’d be wrong. While most companies have increased worker wages in order to keep and attract employees, the increases have averaged about half of the rate of inflation. Back to the example of Tyson Foods … CEO John Tyson made $13.74 million last year, an increase of more than 22% over the prior year, while Tyson employee’s pay increases averaged 9%.
In these times of rising inflation, the rich continue doing what they’ve always done, getting richer off the labour of their workers and artificially raising prices, while the poor get poorer, even if they receive a modest pay increase. The minimum wage in this country is still $7.25 and has not been raised since July 2009! Congress has steadfastly refused to raise it for the past 13 years because a large number of members of Congress are in the pockets of corporations and corporate CEOs who donate to their campaigns. At this rate, the minimum wage will still be $7.25 at the end of this decade. It rather shoots down the theory of “Trickle-down economics,” doesn’t it?
And to add insult to injury, most of these corporations find ways to pay very little in taxes, thus leaving the bulk of the tax burden to those of us who life payday to payday.
So, next time someone tries to blame President Biden or Democrats for inflation, know that the real blame is on the wealthy corporations who are pocketing their profits rather than trying to help their workers or the rest of us struggling in this era of the pandemic! Greed and arrogance go hand in hand and are destroying the country in more ways than one.