So, at least 2 of the 3 opinions in this “fact check” are from admittedly right-wing, pro-corporate sources.
And the fact is that regardless of bias, the “fact check” from Agence France-Presse doesn’t offer any facts. It offers opinions.
Corporations are using the excuse of inflation to raise prices and make fatter profits. The result is a transfer of wealth from consumers to corporate executives and major investors.
This has nothing to do with inflation, folks. It has everything to do with the concentration of market power in a relatively few hands.
It’s called “oligopoly,” where two or three companies roughly coordinate their prices and output.
Reich then goes on to provide examples that formed his educated opinion:
Procter & Gamble and Kimberly Clark. In April, Procter & Gamble announced it would start charging more for everything from diapers to toilet paper, citing “rising costs for raw materials, such as resin and pulp, and higher expenses to transport goods.”
Baloney. P&G is raking in huge profits. In the quarter ending September 30, after some of its price increases went into effect, it reported a whopping 24.7% profit margin. Oh, and it spent $3 billion in the quarter buying its own stock.
How can this be? Because P&G faces very little competition. According to a report released this month from the Roosevelt Institute, “The lion’s share of the market for diapers,” for example, “is controlled by just two companies (P&G and Kimberly-Clark), limiting competition for cheaper options.”
So it wasn’t exactly a coincidence that Kimberly-Clark announced similar price increases at the same time as P&G. Both corporations are doing wonderfully well. But American consumers are paying more.
Reich then points out how Pepsi has joined in on this profit grabbing:
Or consider another major consumer product oligopoly: PepsiCo (the parent company of Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Quaker, Tropicana, and other brands), and Coca-Cola. In April, PepsiCo announced it was increasing prices, blaming “higher costs for some ingredients, freight and labor.”
Rubbish. The company recorded $3 billion in operating profits and increased its projections for the rest of the year, and expects to send $5.8 billion in dividends to shareholders in 2021.
If PepsiCo faced tough competition it could never have gotten away with this. But it doesn’t. In fact, it appears to have colluded with its chief competitor, Coca-Cola – which, oddly, announced price increases at about the same time as PepsiCo, and has increased its profit margins to 28.9%.
And on it goes around the entire consumer sector of the American economy.
He doesn’t stop there. Reich then drills down to one of the industries that can single-handedly affect just about every business in existence — energy, or to be blunter, the oil industry:
Once it became clear that demand was growing, energy producers could have quickly ramped up production to create more supply. But they didn’t.
Why not? Industry experts say oil and gas companies (and their CEOs and major investors) saw bigger money in letting prices run higher before producing more supply.
They can get away with this because big oil and gas producers don’t face much competition. They’re powerful oligopolies.
And Reich and Warren aren’t alone in their opinions. A simple search on any engine can produce more economists, politicians, and other sources supporting the notion that it is corporate greed and not traditional drivers of inflation that are causing Americans more pain every time they have to reach for their wallets.
The oil industry, in particular, can be pointed out as one that is capable of not only increasing their own profits, at will, but one that can drive costs up on small businesses regardless of the business’s industry. We all rely on energy and fuel to operate. By driving up fuel and energy costs, every small business has increased costs and can cause ill-will towards the current administration. The last time I checked, the oil industry isn’t run by a bunch of liberal or left-wing environmentalists but rather a very right-wing group of people who generally despise those environmentalists and “lefties” that can be a thorn in their side. They tend to give way more to Republicans, unless one’s name is Joe Manchin.
And everyone who follows politics has surely noticed how Manchin has shamelessly sided with Republicans and almost single-handedly blocked President Biden’s agenda on many levels.
In fact, it wouldn’t be a big stretch to suggest that the leaders of the oil companies are defacto “punishing” Americans for voting Joe Biden in and Donald Trump out. After all, Trump gave them a free hand. Biden, on the other hand, has shut down the Keystone XL extension and made other moves that this particular industry hates — namely when government restrains them or even keeps an eye on them.
The oil industry has a lot of power — are they using it? Many Americans believe they are. That is their opinion, and it is every bit as valid. Whether it is accurate and true is for Americans to decide, not Facebook and Agence France-Presse, and their right-leaning opinions.
They should not be the final word.
That is the main reason that this “fact check” is not legitimate. While everyone wants “misinformation” to be cleared out of the social media platform, differing opinions are not misinformation. Facebook could offer sources from both sides with differing opinions, but it doesn’t. It offers a derogatory tag and only a link to an article that attempts to discredit the notion that corporations are taking advantage of the American people. The article offers no solid facts but only opinions, cliches, and platitudes.
Perhaps Facebook is upset about their own recent wranglings with the government where there have been calls to regulate Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms in ways they never have before, thus ending their ability to do as they wish unfettered. Perhaps that is driving their decision to back the corporations over a government that seems focused on regulating industries that have enjoyed relatively little oversight, especially in recent years. Industries that buy a lot of advertising on social media.
As the old saying goes, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Is that the stance Facebook is taking here? Are they covering for those same corporations because they don’t want any further oversight from the government just like the oil industry shuns and hates?
We don’t know that for a fact, but it is a legitimate opinion.