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

The Answer to High Prices:
Raise Wages and Benefits

Mar 5, 2012

We might actually be paying five dollars for a gallon of gasoline by this summer. That’s how fast gas prices have been rising.

In no way are these sudden price increases due to an energy shortage, as the news media and the so-called experts pretend. Even the U.S. Energy Department admits that both oil and gasoline inventories are at “their upper limits.”

No, gas prices are being driven up by the big banks and the oil companies.

The big banks never take possession of a drop of actual oil. They just speculate on it. They trade the rights to the same barrel of oil back and forth between each other dozens of times, boosting the price each time. To them, every scare story about a possible war or supply disruption is just another profit opportunity. Recently, oil traders have been playing the Iran scare story to the hilt and laughing all the way ... to the bank.

As for the oil companies, they thrive on higher prices. Last year, the five biggest oil companies–ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, BP, and Royal Dutch Shell–raised prices to their highest levels on record, up until that time. Even though they produced 4% less oil, they still raked in a record 137 billion dollars in profits–up 75% from 2010. High prices have allowed these five companies to make more than one trillion dollars in profits from 2001 to 2011.

These massive companies are squeezing ever bigger profits out of the working population. They just reach in and take it out of our pocket. It is exactly like a wage cut.

And the same goes for all the other basic necessities: food, electricity, gas, heating oil, clothing, health care, and housing costs, rent, mortgage payments, insurance. All these prices have been skyrocketing, as companies in every industry try to squeeze out still more profit for themselves.

Higher prices on necessities are driving down the standard of living of the entire working population. More families are being faced with impossible choices, what necessities to spend money on, and what to do without. It’s much worse for those on fixed incomes. Almost half the elderly who are living on their own can no longer afford some of the basic necessities. They have to choose between medicine and rent and electricity.

Stop this robbery! Wages and benefits should automatically be indexed to prices. Every time prices go up, wages and benefits should go up also–immediately.

Of course, workers can’t trust the government to tell us when prices go up. Government officials already falsify the Consumer Price Index, the official measure of inflation, so much that the cost-of-living allowance for Social Security benefits and government pensions has increased only once in the last three years. Government statistics are nothing but a cover-up for the thieves who rob us blind with higher prices.

We need a real indexing of wages to prices–direct and immediate. Working people, all the ordinary people could record the real price increases. After all, we know what’s going on. We go in the stores to buy food. We pay for the gasoline, the doctors’ visits, prescriptions, clothes, etc. We pay the utilities.

But recording the price increases isn’t enough–we already do that each in our own way today. We have to use the forces we have, bring ourselves together to impose our will on these thieves.

The wealthy capitalist class that raises prices today is the same wealthy capitalist class that tries to keep our wages down.

Enough of this. If the filthy rich capitalists raise prices–they must be made to raise our wages and pensions.

There is no other answer to inflation.