Activist explains what the ‘mainstream media’ misses about inflation

Activist explains what the ‘mainstream media’ misses about inflation
A business meeting in 2021, Wikimedia Commons

On December 3, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that unemployment had fallen to 4.2% in the United States —which liberal economist Paul Krugman has hailed as a sign of economic recovery. Unemployment statistics for the U.S. have been overshadowed by worries about inflation, but New York City-based activist and author Hadas Thier — in an article published by Truthout the day after Christmas — emphasizes that the “high-pitched panic about inflation” coming from the “mainstream media” is overlooking some crucial points.

“First, the prices of some of our biggest expenses — health care, housing, higher education to name a few — have been rising, often explosively so, for decades with little discussion or concern from the punditry,” Thier writes. “Health care costs are, in fact, the leading cause of bankruptcy in the country. Global food prices, too, have been rising because of the impact of climate change on crop yields…. Second, although it’s true that there has been a noticeable uptick in prices, measured by the annual change on the consumer price index, by 6.8% over the last year, this is still not very high by historical standards.”

Thier adds, “The last time the United States experienced a serious inflationary crisis in the 1970s, the rate of inflation regularly hit between 11-13%. It’s also the case that measures of current price increases are skewed by a few sectors of the economy — most notably, the energy sector.”

Thier, author of the 2020 book “A People’s Guide to Capitalism: An Introduction to Marxist Economics,” goes on to cite some more things that are missing from much of the mainstream media’s reporting on pandemic-era inflation — and they range from “price gouging” to “increased workers’ wages.”

READ: West Virginia native explains why history 'will not be kind' to Joe Manchin

“Most importantly, the media spin has left out the elephant in the room,” Thier writes. “It is business owners who are the ones raising prices. They are currently setting record profits; so, do they have to raise prices? The answer to this question ultimately reveals that inflation is a question of class politics — which class gains at whose expense — rather than technical monetary policies.”

Thier concludes her article by calling for “price controls.”

“Even President Richard Nixon briefly implemented price controls,” Thier notes. “Immediate reforms in the form of rent control, expanding Medicare, and allowing the government to negotiate lower drug prices are a good start to such policies, along with capping CEO pay and taxing the rich…. Ultimately, a left economic agenda must push back against the inflation panic to maintain demands for higher wages and increased social spending, while guarding against real inflation through price controls and policies that protect working people’s pockets.”

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