Jamaal Bowman Wants Corporations To Stop Price Gouging Us All Over The Place

Class War
Jamaal Bowman in front of bookcase

If there is one thing Americans can agree on right now (well, maybe) it is that "the everything" is too damn high. It's almost enough to erode some people's faith in the quasi-religious concept of the invisible hand of the free market (never forget: When Adam Smith first introduced the concept, it was God's invisible hand, poking around and ensuring that capitalist greed could never result in unfairness). It's increasingly difficult to look at one's grocery bill and go "Welp! It's just supply and demand!" when we know corporate execs are laughing all the way to the bank, thrilled to use the excuse of "inflation" to jack up prices, loving every minute of the narrative that "it's the poor people who want to earn enough to live on who are to blame for this!"

WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW MORE? It's Not Inflation, It's Greed

On Thursday, Democratic New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman (NY-16) introduced the Emergency Price Stabilization Act of 2022 in the House. If enacted, this would allow the government to take certain steps to keep corporations from price gouging customers in times such as these.

“In my district and across the country, people simply cannot afford to live,” Bowman said in a statement. “From impossible rents and utility bills to soaring costs for food, health care, and other necessities of life, people in America are being crushed by the burden of high prices and wages that can’t keep pace. While our government is taking several important steps in response, we must move with greater speed and agility to protect our constituents from price shocks and corporate profiteering."

Specifically, the bill would

- Monitor and analyze price changes related to food, energy, housing, health care, transportation, and other goods and services that are vital to the country’s health and economic security;

- Proactively investigate corporate profiteering in those areas, including price-gouging linked to supply chain disruptions, by using subpoena power to open up and examine corporate books;

- Make recommendations to the President for appropriate, strategic controls and regulations to limit growth and reduce volatility in those key prices, which the President is temporarily authorized to implement;

- Engage and mobilize the public as part of the process of monitoring and regulating prices, and harness the expertise of federal agencies, outside experts, unions, and community organizations; and

- Propose complementary measures to ensure adequate supply of relevant goods and services, expand productive capacity, and meet climate and public health standards in the application of any price controls or regulations.

Co-sponsoring this bill are Reps. Cori Bush (Mo.), Steve Cohen (Tenn.), Danny K. Davis (Ill.), Jesús G. "Chuy" García (Ill.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Hank Johnson (Ga.), Mondaire Jones (NY), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Jerrold Nadler (NY), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Donald M. Payne Jr. (NJ), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), Mark Takano (Calif.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ).

Conservatives love to use the term "socialist price controls" to scare people, as if the government stepping in to ensure that corporations do not take advantage of us during difficult times is going to in some way impact our "freedoms." But at this point, it's hard to imagine too many people saying, "Oh, no thank you! I would much prefer to keep paying out the ass for things! Godforbid we inconvenience those making bank off of this situation!"

We know, for a fact, that the increase in prices is not solely due to "inflation." We know a whole lot of it is corporations taking advantage of a small amount of inflation by jacking up prices as high as they can go, and we know this because we've literally heard them openly admit to this. It's hardly a big secret.

Even for those companies that don't admit it, we can look at their figures and see that they are absolutely raking it in. Oil profits, for instance, are three times what they were just a year ago. They're not just increasing their prices in order to stay afloat, they're doing it to enrich themselves even further off the backs of Americans in a bad situation. That can't be allowed. Because the more rope we give them, the further they will go. They need to learn that there are consequences for going too far.

The more we force Republicans to vote on these things, the more clear it will be that they are looking out for the rich and for corporations and not for everyday Americans who are just trying to live somewhere, put food on the table, get to and from work and have decent medical care. That's not a lot to ask.

[Jamaal Bowman]

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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