As the rate of inflation increases to levels unseen since 1982, corporate executives are saying the quiet part loud on earnings calls with shareholders: we're making billions thanks to our greed. Runaway corporate price increases are pushing profits higher and higher. More on this in this week's newsletter.
 
INEQUALITY.ORG
THIS WEEK
With the inflation rate rising at levels unseen since 1982, corporate execs are saying out loud — to shareholders — something you’ll never hear them say in any widely viewed public forum.

“We want to make sure that we’re not leaving any pricing on the table,” Garth Hankinson, the chief financial officer at Constellation Brands, the company behind popular beers like Modelo and Corona, noted on a recent fourth-quarter earnings call. “We want to take as much as we can...we'll take as much pricing as we think the consumer can absorb.”

Constellation Brands hardly stands alone. Overall U.S. corporate profits are soaring as CEOs the nation over raise prices — far over their costs —to exploit the inflation “moment” that factors like supply-chain disruptions and pent-up consumer demand have created. We have much more than inflation here. We have soaring corporate greed.

The sooner our elected officials tune out the inflation-panic echo chamber — and start moving to rein in monopolies and their grasping corporate chiefs — the sooner we can start building an economy that works for everyone, not just the awesomely affluent at the top.

Chuck Collins and Rebekah Entralgo,
for the Institute for Policy Studies Inequality.org team
 
INEQUALITY BY THE NUMBERS
Facebook Twitter Download
 
FACES ON THE FRONTLINES
Fighting to End the Subminimum Wage by 2026
Organizers in Washington, D.C. have hit a milestone worth celebrating. They’ve collected 26,000 petition signatures, enough to place on the ballot a measure that would eliminate the subminimum wage for tipped workers. For former restaurant worker and One Fair Wage organizer Ifeoma Ezimako, eliminating the subminimum wage — a $2.13 hourly rate stubbornly unchanged since 1991 — would address both longstanding inequalities and ease the labor shortage in the D.C. service sector. To champion this cause nationwide, One Fair Wage has launched a campaign to pass legislation that would abolish the subminimum in 25 states by 2026. Inequality.org managing editor Rebekah Entralgo has more.
Read More
 
WORDS OF WISDOM
Facebook Twitter Download
 
PETULANT PLUTOCRAT
OF THE WEEK
This Billionaire Loves L.A. — and Himself as Mayor
The Los Angeles billionaire Rick Caruso has amassed a huge personal fortune developing high-end properties like the Grove, a “polished and tightly controlled” oasis where, as one news report notes, “streetcars trundle jauntily past fountains, sidewalk cafes, and luxury stores where security guards stand sentry.” Last November, a flash-mob robbery at one of the Grove’s retail palaces had Caruso fuming. He blamed the robbery on efforts to “defund the cops” — and the city’s “weak leadership.” Now Caruso is running for L.A. mayor to replace that leadership. A former big-time Republican donor, he’s campaigning as a tough-on-crime “pro-centrist, pro-jobs, pro-public safety Democrat.” One local labor organizer running for the L.A. City Council, Hugo Soto-Martinez, is calling Caruso a “puppet master” for the business interests that have always lorded over Los Angeles. Adds Caruso: ““He’s missing the forest for the trees. The best way to prevent crime is to give people economic stability.”
 
BOLD SOLUTIONS
Keep it Simple: Ban Congressional Stock Trading
Members of Congress have been enjoying, for some time now, an outsized success rate on their personal investments. That success should come as no surprise, what with the classified briefings lawmakers receive, their oversight power over major industries, and the regulatory inadequacies of the 2012 STOCK Act. Fortunately, new polling shows overwhelming public support for an outright ban on congressional stock trading. The Senate has already passed its own Ban Conflicted Trading and Ban Congressional Stock Trading measures. Zach Brown, a Public Citizen advocacy associate, has a new piece out that dives deep into the congressional stock trading swamp. Writes Brown: “If our highly esteemed elected officials are truly ‘doing it for the people,’ trading stocks should be the very least of their concerns.”
Read More
 
GREED AT A GLANCE
Facebook Twitter Download
 
TOO MUCH
Private Equity’s New Dagger to Our Democracy
Could democracy in the United States be disappearing? We have plenty of cause for worry, everything from gun-toting militias and the continuing dysfunction of an archaic constitutional order to brazen attacks on impartial election administrators. Our overflowing list of dangers to American democracy now has another dagger: the private equity industry. New research from the NYU Stern School of Business and CalTech details how private equity greed grabs in the newspaper sector are eviscerating local news coverage, dumbing down our politics, and undermining our democratic future. Inequality.org’s Sam Pizzigati has more.
Read More
 
MUST READS
What's on Inequality.org 

Bella DeVaan, For New York Home Care Workers, Fair Pay Is Possible. Two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, New York has an opportunity to transform its care economy by investing in workers.

Scott Klinger, President Trump Axed an IRS Report on the Richest 400 Americans. Let’s Bring It Back. Turning up the spotlight on tax dodging by the wealthy would increase momentum for fair taxation to pay for needed public investments.

Elsewhere on the Web

Arwa Mahdawi, Privatizing the moon may sound like a crazy idea but the sky’s no limit for avarice, Guardian. A free-market think tank wants us to start selling off plots of moon land. We need to act now to prevent this plundering.

Juliana Kaplan, Bernie Sanders sarcastically congratulates billionaires for making America an ‘oligarchic form of society,’ Business Insider. The Vermont senator is pointing out that the two wealthiest people in America now own more wealth than the bottom 42 percent.

Zach Wahl, Iowa needs a fair tax plan to end the Reynolds workforce crisis, Des Moines Register. In state after state this winter, progressives are battling moves to enact tax cuts for millionaires and the corporations they run.

Andrew Perez, Koch Machine Pressing Supreme Court to Crush EPA, Daily Poster. Dark money groups funded by a fossil fuel billionaire are lobbying to block the agency from limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

Michael Martin, Economist explains record corporate profits despite rising inflation, NPR. Top corporate execs are bragging in their earnings reports about how they’re delivering record profits by jacking up prices more than their costs.

Melody Schreiber, Vastly unequal US has world’s highest Covid death toll – it’s no coincidence, Guardian. America has the highest death rate of any wealthy country, with half of the deaths occurring after vaccines became available.
 
 
A FINAL FIGURE
Facebook Twitter Download
 
BE THE 1% (NO, NOT THAT 1%)

Our goal for 2022: that 1% of our Inequality.org subscribers become monthly sustainers and help grow our newsletter and research efforts. Be the 1%, for as little as $3 a month!
Sustain Inequality.org