Guest writer for Wake Up World
We’ve seen what damage capitalism can do, but it’s possible we ain’t seen nothing yet.
In each of the following areas of our lives, capitalism has been a deadly force in the past. Now, prospects for the future seem even worse as President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet picks take shape…
How capitalism kills: In 1996 Purdue Pharma began marketing its painkiller OxyContin with a promotional campaign unlike any other seen before. As noted in the American Journal of Public Health, “the high availability of OxyContin correlated with increased abuse, diversion, and addiction, and by 2004 OxyContin had become a leading drug of abuse in the United States.”
About 75% of heroin addicts used prescription opioids before turning to heroin. Deaths related to heroin have more than tripled since 2010, and a dramatic surge in overdoses has occurred among children. Opioid use is also triggering a rise in hepatitis C, which kills 19,000 people every year, most of whom can’t get treatment because the drug manufacturer Gilead Sciences charges $84,000 for pills that cost less than $300 to produce. In Kentucky in 2016, for every 100 people with hepatitis C, only three were able to receive treatment.
Why it’s about to get worse: One of Donald Trump’s candidates for the position of FDA chief is staunch libertarian Jim O’Neill, who said about drugs: “Let’s prove efficacy after they’ve been legalized.”
How capitalism kills: Numerous studies show that the suicide rate is linked to unemployment, deteriorating work conditions and declining wealth. The suicide rate has accelerated since the 2008 recession. Too many black people, especially, can’t find living-wage jobs, and a lot of it is due to racism. A recent study found that job applicants were about 50 percent more likely to be called back if they had “white” names. A hiring analysis study found that white job applicants with criminal records were called back more often than blacks without criminal records.
Why it’s about to get worse: Donald Trump’s reported choice for Labor Secretary is Andrew Puzder, who opposes a minimum wage increase and favors robots over workers: “They’re always polite… they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never… an age, sex or race discrimination case.”
3. Health Care
How capitalism kills: Incredibly, males in the poorest 1% live, on average, nearly 15 years less than males in the richest 1%. For women it’s a 10-year difference.
Because of skyrocketing drug costs, annual medication expenses are reaching $100,000 for many Americans. According to the Milliman Medical Index, the cost of healthcare in 2016 for a typical American family of four covered by a PPO was $25,826 — nearly half the median household income — and about $11,000 of which is a cost borne directly by the family. Many Americans can’t afford this. Many of them will not survive. A Harvard study confirmed that uninsured people are more likely to die than those with insurance.
Why it’s about to get worse: The Trump nominee for Health and Human Services, Tom Price, wants to dismantle the health care program that has provided insurance for millions of Americans. Also, Trump’s reported choice for the senior position of Secretary of State is Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, who criticized fracking regulations for “holding back the American economic recovery” despite the impacts to community and environmental health caused by the practice (and then protested when a fracking water tower was to be built near his home.)
How capitalism kills: The 2008 housing crash devastated Americans, and it’s gotten even worse since then. The number of families spending more than half their incomes on rent has surged from 7.5 million to 11.4 million in the last decade — over a 50 percent increase — adding pressure to already struggling Americans.
Blackstone and Goldman Sachs have figured out how to take money from former homeowners, by buying houses and holding them to force prices up, charging high rents with little or no maintenance, and often packaging the deals as rental-backed securities with artificially high-grade ratings.
Why it’s about to get worse: Donald Trump’s nominee for Housing and Development is Ben Carson who, according to The Nation, “has zero experience in housing or urban development and appears to oppose Fair Housing laws.” Goldman Sachs alumni are likely to hold the top two economic policy jobs.
5. Racial Justice
How capitalism kills: The infant mortality rate for African-Americans is more than double that for white children. Almost half of black children under the age of six are living in poverty. And, shockingly, over the past 20 years the suicide rate for black children nearly doubled, while decreasing significantly for white children.
Statistically, low-income people of color breathe dirtier air, live amidst more toxic waste, and are less likely to have health insurance. Low-income individuals are also three times more likely to be victims of crime.
Why it’s about to get worse: Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Department of Justice (Attorney General) is Jeff Sessions, who once criticized civil rights groups as “un-American”.
6. The Deadliest of All… The Military-Industrial Complex
How capitalism kills: Henry Giroux sums it up in his usual uncompromising style:
Thus far, Trump has appointed three Generals to join his cabinet — James Mattis and Michael Flynn for Secretary of Defense and National Security Advisor, along with Retired General John Kelly to head the Department of Homeland Security. Kelly is infamous for defending the force-feeding of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay… Retired General [James] Mattis, whose nickname is ‘Mad Dog’, stated in 2003, the year that Iraq was invaded, that “It’s fun to shoot some people, you know, it’s a hell of a hoot.” He once told marines under his command “Be polite. Be professional. But have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”
As difficult as it is to imagine, it gets worse…
Why it’s about to get worse: Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, Trump’s choice for national security adviser, considers the entire religion of Islam, with a population of 1.3 billion people, a “terrorist threat.”
Capitalism kills, inequality kills, the military kills. With President Trump’s cabinet picks, the next four years may become history’s deadliest era, for America and the world.
Recommended reading by Paul Buchheit:
- Overwhelming Evidence that a ‘Guaranteed Basic Income’ Will Work
- The Real Terrorists: The 0.01%
- 5 Signs of a Dying Society
- Why Do So Many Americans Defend the Failed Capitalist Experiment?
- Five Great American Hypocrisies
- Capitalism at Its Worst: 5 Deadly Sins of Big Pharma
About the author:
Paul Buchheit is a college teacher, an active member of US Uncut Chicago, founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (including www.youdeservefacts.org), and the editor and main author of “American Wars: Illusions and Realities” (Clarity Press). He can be reached at [email protected].
This work first appeared on www.commondreams.org and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.