“An inflation is a set of decisions made by one percent of the people: the richest, the top owners, operators of our businesses. And it is a fact we have to live with, for the other 99 percent.”
Skyrocketing prices and record corporate profits are all over the news headlines. While the workers struggle to pay high prices, employers are setting themselves up to make all the profits. What’s causing all of this? How can we turn it around?
Capitalism is leaving most of us behind- right after a turbulent two years of pandemic and economic recession. Richard Wolff shares what you need to know about the inflation in this new Global Capitalism lecture. Watch “The Inflation: Causes, Effects, & Outlook” on our website or listen as a podcast today.
Inflation is worrying most of us these days. Will my paycheck get me the same amount of groceries? What will the gas pump look like tomorrow? Richard Wolff wants to be clear though. Most of us do not set prices. The capitalists of this country, and this world, are raising the prices.
“The working class of America, the vast majority of people who are employees, they don't set prices. They have the prices set over them. Prices are dictated by a tiny minority, the dictatorship of that class of people as administered to the American working class after two years of COVID and two years of stunning economic lack of activity. A very harsh slap in the face. That's what the inflation is."
Why are they raising prices? The same reason capitalists do anything. To raise their profits. After the losses of business during COVID-19 shutdowns, business-owners are itching to make their money back.
“Why are the employers, that tiny minority, raising prices thereby causing and running an inflation? The answer is because that's the most profitable strategy available to them.”
To no-one’s surprise, people are upset. They want answers as to why the cereal costs more today than it did last week. To redirect anger, all sorts of reasons are brought out to justify higher prices: supply chains, COVID lockdowns, government spending etc. But not one addresses the root cause: capitalism.
“The capitalist class, when there's an inflation, becomes a very loud about scapegoating somebody else. You see, that's helpful to them. They want us to believe that they didn't raise their prices to make more profits or to protect the profits they already were earning. No, no, no, no. They only did it because they were *get ready, get your handkerchief* forced to do it.”
Unfortunately, this is built into the system. Inflation may have existed before capitalism, but it is now one of its fundamental flaws. Biden and other world leaders are considering options to reduce the inflation- but raising interest rates can shake the stock market and lead to higher debt payments. If the inflation continues, billions will lose their savings to profiteering.
“This is a situation in which capitalism has come to a dead end, or to be more precise, to two dead ends. It can go this way or that way. But if it continues with the inflation- well I’'ve tried to lay out for you the enormous dangers that lurk there. But if it tries to stop the inflation with conventional monetary policy, wow. That leads to all the problems I just talked to. It's a dead end. It's damned if it does, it's damned if it doesn't.”
Richard Wolff ends the lecture with a story about how the U.S. stopped inflation before under Nixon, and he still offers another solution to consider. Perhaps this is a moment to reflect on this entire economic system. When “the solution looks as bad as the problem we're desperate to solve”, it’s a sign that capitalism is getting us nowhere good.
Please enjoy this lecture and send it to anyone who wants to know what this inflation business is all about. It’s time we put an end to corporate media spins about inflation and address the root cause. It’s time we do better than capitalism.
Producing these lectures has always depended on audience donations. Consider donating to Democracy at Work with a monthly or one-time gift. Our monthly supporters are invaluable to us, in that they allow us to plan for the future, and commit to bringing you more media from an anti-capitalist and pro-workplace democracy perspective. Thank you.