The specter of runaway inflation haunts our country. It is already beginning to create havoc and wreak devastation to our national economy.

It is deepening and spreading hunger to new millions. It has caused the loss of tens of thousands of jobs in an ongoing job loss spiral. It is creating a crisis for rent payers and homeowners. It is complicating the struggle to stem the rising tide of home foreclosures.

Inflation is a universal phenomenon in the U.S. It corrupts and distorts every single economic activity. Nothing is spared. People are curtailing health care because they cannot afford it. A population transfer is taking place as people try to find jobs near their homes to cut travel costs. The unusually hot summer threatens health and safety as air conditioners are turned down or off. A serious tragedy is in the making. This winter, millions will not be able to afford fuel to heat their homes. Food price inflation will cause even more hunger.

While new millions are swept into the horrific vacuum of this developing inflation, there are always those millions hardest hit who suffer most under capitalism even in the so-called best of times. This profit-driven crisis falls most heavily on those who are at the bottom of the economic ladder. African Americans are the last hired, first laid off, paid the lowest wages, work the least number of hours in a year and are least able to deal with the ravages of inflation. Latinos, women and other nationally and racially oppressed also endure inflation disproportionally. Inflation threatens their very lives.

Seven-dollar-a-gallon gasoline prices are predicted by oil experts by 2010. Already prices are leaping toward $5.00 to $6.00 a gallon by 2009.

Who is to blame? The greedy oil monopolies and Wall Street speculators. The main gimmick for raising oil prices is for the speculators to buy and sell the same barrel of oil back and forth to each other for ever higher prices. Each such transaction results in more expensive oil for which you and I have to pay, even though the barrel of oil involved in the transaction never actually changes hands.

A major consumer is the U.S. military. It is the biggest user and waster of petroleum products in the country. It buys refined gasoline in the United States at retail prices and ships it to the Middle East. In addition, the government until recently was buying oil for storage at today’s high prices instead of using up stored up oil from the reserves which it bought at much lower prices years ago. This oil administration is doing everything it can to help its oil company buddies rake in billions of excess profits.
Anti-oil-monopoly fever and anger are running high. Tens of millions of people are angry and ready to take action against this corporate greed which threatens our country.

What are some winning demands?

• Outlaw the oil futures market and put the speculators out of business. This would cut oil prices 25-50 percent.

• Roll back gasoline prices to 2006 levels.

• Establish an Office of Price Administration (OPA) as was done during World War II. It works.

• Boycott Exxon-Mobil — the largest and greediest U.S. oil corporation.

• Nationalize the oil industry, as many other countries have done. Use the profits for research for alternative, safe energy sources.

• Contact your congressperson and Senators. Demand action now.

Pat Barile is a retired trade unionist and member of the Communist Party USA National Board.