“I’m helpless, powerless, completely without influence,” said the CEO from his penthouse in Abu Dhabi, as a Texan Senator licked his feet clean.

“What do you expect me to do?” asked Jeffrey K. Hingku, CEO of Hingku Advanced Pharmaceuticals, from the bow of his 100-meter yacht. “Prices for medicine are going up due to inflation. Don’t get mad at me.”

Hingku was explaining his helplessness as a second, smaller yacht he owned pulled alongside to refuel his primary vessel.

The lament was repeated by Mahmoud Hashan, CEO of International Energy Consultants, a multinational petroleum company. Hashan was speaking from his penthouse above Abu Dhabi. A sitting U.S. Senator from Texas knelt before him and licked his feet clean.

“I’m powerless. Completely powerless,” said Hashan, “Gas prices rise due to the invisible hand of the market. I have no control whatsoever.”

“Are your blessed feet clean enough, m’lord?” the kneeling Senator asked.

Hashan slapped him. “I did not say you could speak!”

The Texan cowered and continued to lick between Hashan’s toes.

“Now where were we?” Hashan said, gazing out at the sprawling urban landscape below as three butlers laid out a six-course meal before him.

“Ah yes, gas prices. Indeed, they are going up, but can’t you see? I have no influence.”

Those denials were repeated across executive boardrooms, detailed in press conferences, and justified in the financial press.

“Powerless” and “helpless” are not words usually used to describe millionaire and billionaire CEOs speaking from penthouses, yachts, and private islands. Especially when those people control the majority of multi-national corporations.

“And yet it is true,” said Hingku, as visiting dignitaries from an unnamed developing nation arrived to deliver him a steel briefcase full of diamonds. The gift was a bribe for him to move his next factory to their country.

“It’s just supply and demand,” said Hingku. “I told the Americans, avoid the temptation for demand-side stimulus. You give the average citizen money, that will cause inflation. Because we suppliers know they can afford more, we’ll just charge more.”

Is there any scenario where Hingku could see the prices of his company’s life-saving medicines going down?

“We are compelled to charge the highest possible. Thanks to the U.S. government’s assistance checks during COVID lockdowns, people can afford more. So, our prices go up.”

That sounded like an accidental admission that he does in fact control prices.

“If that’s how I came off, then clearly, I misspoke. Or you misunderstood. Yes, that must be it. You misunderstood. This interview is over.”

He then slapped the kneeling Texas Senator again.

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