Look, costs have gone up. You see it, I see it. And I have friends who run small businesses who are having to raise their product prices.
Not because of salaries by the way. In the specific cases of the small businesses I’m thinking of, they are sole proprietorships. Companies of one. No employees in the mix. So I’m not saying that increased costs for hourly workers aren’t a factor. I’m saying that higher wages isn’t the whole story.
(You know, for the people who want to make it about that. Like the person eking out a subsistence by the hour is the root of the problem (hint: they aren’t the root of the problem and a person working hard all day long to provide the rest of us with services we need deserves to make a wage a person can live on and please be kind to some of the hardest-working people there are because life is hard enough, you know?))
But back to my point.
Shipping costs are up, supply costs are up, tensions in Europe are likely to exacerbate all of this … but even before that gets factored in, this was a global phenomenon not just one here… ergo prices – and especially for a small business – prices to the customer have to go up. There isn’t a buffer to do otherwise.
But here’s the thing. My friends running a small business and raising their prices? They have to pass the cost along just to stay in the same position as where the same sales would have gotten them before. They aren’t raising prices to increase profit margins, but to maintain them.
So now let’s look at the huge multinational companies. The ones that actually cross borders and whose collective actions might have more widespread impact on global inflation.
They, too, are seeing costs go up. We should expect they too might have to raise some prices. Sure. Inflation is, at present, a global phenomenon.
But in that case, shouldn’t we expect that their prices would be going up enough to offset costs? Or even to maintain their prior growth levels, because of course companies want to grow.
In other words, they should have to raise prices enough to maintain their profitability.
If instead of maintaining profitability they have increased it – in some cases, by double-digit percentages – it seems to me that maybe, maybe what we are actually seeing is not inflation (or not just inflation) but actually corporate greed.
In fact it seems like it might even be, well, price gouging.
If prices went up to an unwarranted degree, far beyond the true impact of “costs” — to maximize profit in the wake of a hurricane or an earthquake — we would call it what it is. That is price gouging or profiteering.
A global pandemic is a natural disaster.
And some companies (you know their names well) are not just raising prices to match inflation or even to maintain their prior growth trend but (look at their quarterly and annual reports) reporting record profits. They are actually using “oh gosh it’s inflation” as an excuse to pay higher executive salaries and bonuses and dividends to shareholders … all the while b*tching about the tiny increase to workers that all together don’t add up to what they are giving the CEO for an increase, and meanwhile driving prices even higher. And higher.
Literally causing the inflation they decry as the reason for the increases in the first place.
And I just wonder, in my small insignificant under-educated way… why isn’t that being looked at as corporate price gouging?
I mean, other than the fact that corporations seem to own a lot of politicians?
Because that sure seems like maybe it’s a thing.