Imagine a conversation with a family member or a friend. “Food prices have gone up since the pandemic hit,” says a Baltimore Black woman. “Damn!” A Black man chimes in with his lament, “Hey baby, prices are sky high all over the world, and I don’t have a job.”
People with no incomes, low incomes, halfway decent incomes or fixed incomes, take a beating with increased food prices plus other life necessities. Food prices soared last year around the world, according to the United Nations (UN). The UN figures show that the world food price inflation crept up from 4.6 percent to 6.3 percent.
We see that coffee, milk, sugar and pork in the Futures stock market increased by 32 percent since 2019. These figures represent the highest statistic in a decade, according to the UN and it’s even worse for semi-colonial countries, such as those in much of Africa.
Why? These big-time corporate transnational agriculturalists, and corporate food supermarkets, and big corporate box stores want to make the highest profit. They don’t care whether our stomachs growl or whether the wolf is knocking at our door. And you already know that the mom-and-pop store follows the leader when they must buy from the marketer, middleman, or producer.
Food insecurity, you holler out loud. The USDA says about 35 million people in the U.S. suffered from food insecurity. Another word for this phenomenon is hunger. Children suffer the most. All of these things existed before the Coronavirus pandemic but COVID-19 further emboldened labor exploitation, and the list continues. Food insecurity is only a part of the problem.
The prices for these necessities remain high everywhere, partly because the food processor passes the increased cost on to the consumer, all in the name of the “Benjamins.” Food production and processing remain available, but people cannot afford them. Profits continue as primary ways, way ahead of human needs. And you know, when the economy catches a cold, Black people acquire pneumonia. So, what happens when the economy catches pneumonia?
They tell us that we don’t want to work because we receive these paltry stimulus checks. Hey! Folks can hardly make it as it is. According to the latest U.S. Department of Labor report, 15,435,982 workers and their families are still trying to get by on some unemployment “benefit.”
Still, the decrease in labor force participation does not count workers that exited during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than likely, labor force participation understates the number of workers actually out of work. Lest we forget, Black worker inequities continue to exist.
What can be done to affect prices for us? What are the things we need to do in the short and intermediate run? Workers need to join together to fight for jobs, higher wages and automatic cost-of-living adjustments on our wages and retirement pay. We need to insist on a shorter workweek with no cut in pay; develop unemployment unions and coalitions to demand union-wage jobs; demand increases in social security; and demand free healthcare for all without any strings.
Former Coppin State University Professor, Dr. Ken Morgan is a human rights activist. He can be reached at: [email protected]