Our July/August 2022 issue is at the printers and e-subscribers have received their digital copies. (Not a subscriber? You can subscribe now here!)
Here is Fr. 2 editorial notes for the issue:
Inflation blame game
In this issue’s cover story, John Miller discusses the multiple factors that have pushed the rate of inflation to its highest level since the early 1980s. Mainstream economists and media commentators are taking the easy way out and rejecting the blame for current inflation on “the usual scapegoats”: greedy workers and excessive government spending. Such explanations underlie what Miller calls a “class warfare macroeconomic policy strategy” – interest rate hikes that push the economy into recession – which is “designed to suppress wages and secure strong profits”. But since this approach blames the wrong culprits, it is unlikely to curb inflation. Instead, Miller advocates a strategy that tackles the real causes of inflation, particularly supply-side pressures and the ability of firms to use their market power to set prices.
Miller’s policy proposals for fighting inflation would simultaneously (not coincidentally) reduce inequality by limiting profits and raising real (inflation-adjusted) wages. In her article based on Oxfam’s latest report on global inequality, Jayati Ghosh examines the links between global inflation and corporate profits. With the great wealth accumulated by global corporations and by ultra-wealthy families, for example, the families that own Cargill and Walmart, comes the accumulated power to influence governments, which then implement policies that favor these same businesses and families, who yearn for more Wealth and Resources. Ghosh explains that while “the wealth of billionaires has increased by 42%” over the past two years, “at least 240 million more people are at risk of falling into extreme poverty and facing extreme hunger due to trends. economics of the past two years.
Alejandro Reuss’ feature article focuses on the broader impact of the current Covid-19 crisis on the American working class. In addition to bearing the brunt (and blame) of inflation, American workers have faced a complicated set of results from the pandemic. Reuss sorts through these twists and shows how corporate capitalists reacted “in a way to protect or increase their profits,” initially by laying off workers, using market power to raise prices, and relying on government to take control. measures to stabilize the system. The negative impacts of the pandemic have been distributed unevenly, with the burdens falling heaviest on low-income workers, people of color and women. The tight labor market has allowed some pushback for workers, both individually (via the “big quit” and negotiating better wages and conditions with employers) and collectively (via increased union organizing and strike activity) . More concerted collective action will be needed to bring about fundamental change and alter the balance of class power.
Part two of Bill Barclay’s two-part series on California’s intensive farming system focuses on the state’s water wars. It is a case study in how concentrated wealth and political power distort a system, with a small number of wealthy producers, prominently among them the Resnick family of the Wonderful Company, sucking in the water needed to run their agricultural empires. To get a sense of the damaging and irreversible effects of how these corporations and families wielded their power, take a look at the pair of photos on p.26, some of the most dramatic we’ve published in dollars and common sense.
Rounding out the issue, “Dr. Dollar” proposes that Barry Commoner’s ecological principle that “Everything is connected to everything else” also be adopted as the first economic principle. Growing inequality leads to markets for luxury goods like Rolex watches, mansions, and yachts, but the labor and resources that produce them are then unavailable for other types of production that could benefit less wealthy people. The ecological crisis of climate change is another example of how everything is intertwined with everything else, where millions of individual transactions have climate effects. Here, too, we see how inequality, the concentration of market power, and the capture of government by industry have had distorting and destructive effects. Again, only widespread political organization and mobilization will thwart power at the top.
Also in this issue: Anis Chowdhury and Jomo Kwame Sundaram on how the US is manipulating ‘free trade’ deals to contain China, comments on our cover story on group homes, and more!