Celebrate Earth Day

Factual Findings

by Allen Stansbury

Since I shut down my daily briefing e-newsletter I’ve been asked to contribute to the El Dorado County Democratic Central Committee monthly newsletter by way of a column. I’ve accepted their invitation and here is my first attempt. As this is being written President Biden will be giving his first State of the Union address at 5pm Pacific Time. Most channels and cable news networks will carry it live.

A new candidate entered the race for the vacant seat of the 3rdCD in which EDC is located.  While McGridlock (aka McClintock) has decided to run in the safer 5th CD. Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones has decided to run in the third.  That saying, he tried to run against Congressman Ami Berra several years ago and lost.  He will be competing against Assemblyman Kevin Kiely in the Republican primary who ran for governor last year in an unsuccessful bid to replace Governor Newsom through the recall process. 

It could be quite confusing if there are two Jones on the November ballot this year.  However, it will be up to us to remove this confusion.  First and foremost, Sheriff Jones comes with a lot of baggage beyond his Trump leanings: arrogance, defiance of laws, anti-science, bullshitting, failed jailer, anti-transparency, and millions of taxpayer dollars spent because of lost lawsuits.  This district and congress do not need another representative lacking in accountability and transparency.  The primary election is scheduled for June 7, 2022.

During the time I was writing my daily updates, I wrote a number of times about our economy and particularly inflation.  I shall continue to enlighten the voters in El Dorado County about our current inflation situation. 

While most of the price increases now affecting the US and global economy have been the result of global supply chain problems limiting the availability of parts needed to make consumer goods, this doesn’t explain why big and hugely- profitable corporations are passing these cost increases on to their customers in the form of higher prices.

If corporations were competing vigorously against each other, they’d swallow these cost increases in order to keep their prices as low as possible — especially when they’re making huge profits. Yet corporations have been raising prices even as they rake in record profits. That’s because they face so little competition that they can easily coordinate price increases with the handful of other big companies in their industry. That way, all of them come out ahead — while consumers and workers lose.   Previous administrations kept hands off corporations that monopolized their markets, now is the time to begin pursuing these monopoly companies.

Take for instance the market for beef, chicken and fish. A cause for inflation rarely written about is the slow movement towards market consolidation, in other words monopolies.  This is most prevalent in the meat industry where the meat market is dominated by just a few producers namely: Cargill, Tyson Foods, JBS, and National Beef Packing— that control 55% to 85% of the hog, cattle, and chicken markets.  Another way to make more profits is by downsizing their packaging, shortchanging the public.  Think about the consolidation of banking institutions particularly the result of the global recession of 2007-09, there are now only the big 4: Chase, Wells Fargo, BofA, and CitiCorp.

Big Oil pretty much dominates the retail gas pump that include: Exxon/Mobile, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Occidental Petroleum, and a few more.

Consumer products are also dominated by a few major corporations: Proctor & Gamble and Kimberly-Clark.  Don’t forget your favorite retailers: Walmart, Amazon, Kroger, Costco, and Target. Or how about the soda pop bottlers, Coke Cola has only one competitor, Pepsi. When one competitor raised their prices the others immediately follow.

Part of the increases in costs are container fees and shipment costs. According to the September 2021 Economist Magazine the average cost of shipping a standard large container (a 40-foot-equivalent unit, or feu) has surpassed $10,000, some four times higher than in 2020. The spot price for sending such a box from Shanghai to New York, which in 2019 would have been around $2,500, is now nearer $15,000. Securing a late booking on the busiest route, from China to the west coast of America, could cost $20,000.

So, Mr. and Mrs consumer before you take aim at the current administration, take your frustrations out on the major corporations for price gouging. 

I mentioned in previous daily briefings that there was a lot of money (liquidity) in the system making things more expensive.  It’s for that reason that the Federal Reserve has decided to increase interest rates. The Federal Reserve seeks to control inflation by influencing interest rates. When inflation is too high, the Federal Reserve typically raises interest rates to slow the economy and bring inflation down. When inflation is too low, the Federal Reserve typically lowers interest rates to stimulate the economy and move inflation higher. Increasing interest rates lowers the money supply.

More good news:  U.S. employers added 467,000 new jobs in January, according to the latest employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, surprising economists and the Biden administration. Both had projected a downturn in hiring last month due to the rapid spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19. The unemployment rate ticked up to 4 percent from 3.9 percent in December.

2021 overall was a record year for employment growth. Nearly 6.5 million jobs were added despite a slowdown over the last two months of the year. However, employment remains 2.9 million below where it was pre-pandemic and job openings outnumber available workers by 4.6 million.  For more details go to https://thehill.com/policy/finance/592783-jobs-report-economy-covid-19-omicron-employment?userid=319877.

As for congress, my DC contact writes; “Democrats, have added a number of policy riders to many of their appropriation bills. These riders reflect party priorities and can be seen in part as political responses to key party constituencies’ concerns. For instance, the House Labor HHS bill repeals the long-standing Hyde amendment, which prohibits federal funding for abortion. Republican leadership, along with Republican appropriators, are insisting that many of these riders be dropped before negotiations can begin. It’s important to understand that both Republicans and Democrats, when they are the majority, add policy riders to their appropriation bills. So, what the Democrats have done this year is not unusual. However, what is unusual is the intensity already surrounding the November midterm elections. If Republicans can prevent Democrats from scoring any legislative victories, it only strengthens Republicans chances in November. Democrats are suffering from the public’s perception that because they control the White House and both houses of Congress, they ought to be able to get both pieces of legislation passed.” 

June 7, 2022 will be the date of our primary election.  There will be two republican candidates for the 3rd CD, Kevin Kieley and Sheriff Scott Jones.  

In the fifth where McGridlock intends to run, there was this piece in the Modesto Bee

Desperately seeking Stanislaus County Republican to represent us in Congress – Modesto Bee (Modesto Bee) Stanislaus County has more voters in the House’s new Fifth Congressional District, but front runners Tom McClintock and Nathan Magsig live in …

But as it just so happens that Fresno County, Supervisor Magsig will run against Republican Congressman McClintock instead of the election to fill former Rep. Nunes.