The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Stealing for Profit:
Inflation Hits Food, Gas, Housing

Apr 25, 2022

Price increases are taking a bigger and bigger bite out of working peoples’ paychecks. It isn’t just that inflation increased by 8.5%, officially the highest rate in more than 40 years, according to the latest government report.

What’s worse is that prices increased at much, much higher levels on household essentials, especially energy, food, and housing. Over the last year, gasoline prices shot up 48%. The cost of meat, chicken, fish, and eggs increased by 14%. And rents—by far working peoples’ biggest expense—jumped up 20% in the 50 largest metro areas—in one year!

For the working population, there’s no escaping those price increases. We need to put food on the table, pay for a roof over our heads and put gas in the car to get to work. We’re trapped.

Forget about all the lies justifying these high prices, strangling our standard of living. Big corporate monopolies and banks aren’t just “innocently” passing along rising costs created by supposed “shortages.”

Sometimes, corporate monopolies and banks engineer shortages by simply refusing to produce enough, such as the global oil and gas companies are doing in order to increase prices.

Or else they refuse to reinvest their profits in anything useful, despite the tremendous need. That’s what’s behind the historic shortage of affordable housing that gets worse every year and the insanely high rents. Real estate and financial titans almost never build affordable housing because it’s more profitable to build and market luxury housing. But they do buy up big swaths of older apartment complexes and single-family homes, driving rents up sky high.

And sometimes, there aren’t any shortages or increased costs. But monopolies use inflation as the excuse to raise prices. That’s what the companies that dominate food processors and supermarket chains do, creating their own “profit-price spiral.”

These high prices are part of a war carried out by the biggest capitalists against the working population, in order to extract ever more wealth from the working class.

On the one hand, companies increase their profits by squeezing wages and benefits, forcing workers to work harder for longer hours. The capitalists then add onto these profits by raising the prices they charge the population for the same products and services.

Inflation is part of the capitalists’ double whammy. It’s a supplementary weapon that they use against the working population in order to extract even more wealth from us.

For the capitalist class, times have never been better. Corporate profit margins are higher than they have been in 70 years. And big corporations forked over 1.5 trillion dollars in dividends last year, augmenting the wealth of their biggest stockholders—another record.

The capitalist class will continue to enrich itself at the expense of the working population until workers respond to these attacks.

The capitalists are a tiny minority. They produce nothing. They live off the labor of others. They are nothing but parasites. Their ability to extract all that wealth from the working population only comes from their private ownership and control over a bunch of monopolies in industry, finance, and commerce.

This is sheer madness. It is the working population that is the majority. It is the working population that produces all the wealth and makes everything run. Workers can use their place in the economy to make sure they benefit from the fruits of their labor.

The working class, when it mobilizes together, can impose its own demands, starting with decent wages. To assure that those wages are not eaten up by inflation, wages have to increase as soon as the capitalists increase prices.

The working class has the power to fight and win that demand, given its essential position in the economy and society. If the capitalist class refuses and stands in the way of workers gaining these demands—demands that are completely reasonable and attainable—the working class has the power to throw the capitalists aside, and to take over the running of society for the benefit of everyone.