by Angie Aker
Editor’s Note: A version of this article originally appeared on Food & Water Action’s website (our affiliated organization) at an earlier date.
It’s not your imagination. If everything seems to cost more lately it’s because it does. Think about the things you usually buy at the grocery store or retail shop. Add up your utilities and gasoline. Since the pandemic started, prices have gotten higher and higher for nearly everything we need to live. Some industries (ahem, oil & gas!) even used the war in Ukraine as a pretense for “scarcity” price gouging.
Unchecked corporate greed affects every person and every family in the country. And voters are sick of it.
Corporate giants are profiteering at the expense of ordinary people – and voters aren’t happy. Polling from @GBAOStrategies found that “a political system corrupted by corporate influence” is one of voters’ top concerns.— Food & Water Watch (@foodandwater) June 22, 2022
🧵 for more ⬇️ https://t.co/HpyokGMfHX pic.twitter.com/XURO1vWGTV
Corporate Greed Showed Itself In The Supposed “Meat Crisis”
In 2020, as coronavirus killed millions and crumpled small businesses across the country, corporate titans saw a chance to profit. Smithfield and Tyson are prime examples. Then-President Trump hyped their PR about a “meat shortage.” Meat-packing plants pressured staff to work regardless of illness, in conditions that were even more unsafe than usual. Vice President Pence appealed to meatpacking workers, telling them how vital they are — because lobbyists told him to. Even with that stunning, unethical pressure, production fell — but from already unsustainably high levels.
Because overproduction was the status quo, and demand fell when consumers curtailed dining out, there was plenty of meat in cold storage. In fact, the U.S. was so flush with meat supply that exports carried on as usual. All while giant food corporations issued fake warnings about food shortages so they could jack up prices. We actually filed suit against Smithfield for lying about the situation.
The corporate motto? Never let the truth get in the way of a good story, especially if that story multiplies your profits. That mindset has spread from the food sector to touch every consumer.
But blatant price gouging is now facing a backlash.
Unsurprisingly, inflation is our top worry. But corporate greed isn’t far behind, with 60% of voters “very seriously concerned” about corporate influence & 49% “very seriously concerned” about corporations not being held accountable for price gouging.https://t.co/MeGDMi9WIj— Food & Water Watch (@foodandwater) June 22, 2022
Oil & Gas Industry Uses An Old Tactic To Gouge Consumers During Ukraine War
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine became another convenient pretense for profit, this time for a prolonged spike in gasoline prices. Despite adequate supplies, desperate politicians wanted corporations to increase supplies with more drilling, but shareholders were making billions in profit. CEOs, who personally profited, were in no hurry to do anything that even looked helpful since their Wall Street investors were benefiting from a fake ‘shortage.’
As @fightmonopolies said: Voters know that corporate greed is driving price hikes.— Food & Water Watch (@foodandwater) June 22, 2022
This is very true in the fossil fuel sector, where consumers are paying record prices for gas while Wall St. speculators & execs reap the profits. @exxonmobil CEO Darren Woods is one example. 👇 pic.twitter.com/C7UEUPO2aF
“The evidence could not be any clearer: The fossil fuel giants are cashing in on the global energy crunch, pinching American families and sending excess profits back to shareholders and Wall Street speculators. This demands a policy response – namely, a windfall profits tax like the one introduced by Rep. Ro Khanna and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, that would recover much of these ill-gotten gains and return them to struggling households. Lawmakers who complain about corporate concentration and inflation should do something about it – like tackling the damage being caused by polluting profiteers. Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer should bring this legislation forward for a vote.”— Mitch Jones, Food & Water Watch Managing Director of Advocacy Programs and Policy
Gasoline prices nearly doubled during since the start of 2022. Even though they’re leveling off, they’re still significantly higher per gallon than before the spike. It’s doubtful prices will return to pre-Ukraine-invasion levels since consumers seem grateful to be gouged even a little less. Big Oil & Gas is still getting away with stealing from us, just a little less obviously.
In fact, Big Oil has used the Ukraine crisis to rally for a host of items on their wishlist:
- More fracking
- More gas export terminals
- More LNG projects
The International Energy Agency warned in 2021 that fossil fuel production must stop growing immediately to avoid the worst effects of climate chaos. We all know we have to move to renewable energy right away, and that we can do it now. We also know now that fossil fuel executives will use every new crisis as a tool to prevent it.
Corporate Greed Has Gone Unchecked For Too Long
So many corporations are guilty of the tactics the factory farm and fossil industries have perfected. These are just two examples in industries that our work centers on. We can’t let corporations keep robbing people, and it starts by rallying everyone we know to get mad as hell! This is how we build the power to fight back.
We the people are not corporations’ piggy bank!