Headlines recently were trumpeting that inflation is now the highest, 7.9 percent, in about 40 years. This is of course now being validated at the consumer level with the price of gas at the pump, groceries, etc.
The first tossed off explanations as usual are, “supply chain” problems, the “post covid” economy, not that covid is actually gone, and the latest, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The real story is none of the above. Decades ago the “Reagan Revolution” began the campaign to make government a “smaller” influence on business and the economy. This is when we first heard the sale pitch of “trickle down” economics. Today we know this to be a false theory. The idea was that if the wealthy were allowed to keep more of their money they would turn around and invest more in new opportunities for everyone else. As we know now, when the wealthiest people and corporations got to keep more of their money, they kept it and wanted even more. Turns out the word enough isn’t in that vocabulary.
But the propaganda campaigns of the Reagan era have lived on and metastasized into the current version of right wing rhetoric, “the deep state.” The “deep state” conspiracy theory promoted by the former president, his allies, various wingnut “news” outlets and Qanon is the same argument from the 80s, just on steroids. Oh, and amplified even further by Russia’s internet troll farm.
What the Reagan administration was trying to do was undermine and dismantle regulations designed to rein in corporate greed. This progressed further under both Bush administrations, especially the latter with the adventurism of the invasion of Iraq. The Clinton administration contributed its own errors in this direction when Bill Clinton signed into law the repeal of the Glass-Steigall Act, setting the stage for the financial crash of 2008.
The institutions of the Executive Branch of our government were shaken to their core by the Trump Administration’s overt efforts to hobble and sabotage their functions. Departments like HHS, EPA, FCC, FTC, Interior, BLM and others were either headed by “acting” appointees to dodge Senate approval or headed by corporate stooges who were simply there to gut their operations. We can thank our lucky stars for the inherent incompetence of these people, but they still did a lot of damage,
The result? Check out the prices you are paying today for a gallon of gas or a gallon of milk. If the cause of these price increases was inflation, that would mean than their wholesale costs had gone up. But that is not the case.
The real situation can be summed up in one word, profiteering. Companies are simply raising retail prices because they can, not because they are passing on higher costs to consumers.
But there is one more factor in the midst of this and it is not Ukraine. This is 2022. The mid-terms are less than 8 months away. The fact that the Biden Administration has been largely successful in mitigating the effects of the pandemic and in spurring a record economic recovery scares the crap out of the companies involved in this fake inflation situation.
Companies like ExxonMobil, Shell, Koch Industries, Tyson, Home Depot and a host of others love the ideas of gutting the government’s ability to regulate them. The Kochs alone spend hundreds of millions per year in this effort.
What does this add up to? Simple: jacking up prices is win-win for these guys. They get to bring in enormous additional profits while making the Biden Administration appear weak to voters. That’s right, the Republican strategy to regain control of the government is to damage each American’s wallet with rampant price gouging and then blame it on someone else.
When you couple this idea with the warnings issued by various Trumpublican mouthpieces that they intend to jail members of the Jan 6 committee and impeach Biden and Harris, you get where this is going.
The price gouging and profiteering we are experiencing now is part of the full on assault, that if successful on November 8th, could spell the end of our democratic form of government. This is a dire prediction, but that’s where the calculus leads if we don’t confront these facts head on.