Saturday, 27 February 2010

Capitalism Generates Prosperity?

When discussing political ideologies, I often hear many people say that "capitalism generates prosperity". It might do so, but any prosperity that is generated through this system is clearly not being distributed fairly. Some political parties might talk about the importance of distributing the prosperity created by capitalism, but history has clearly demonstrated that most people who are only interested in earning millions of dollars for themselves are not really interested in sharing their wealth with other human beings. Furthermore, certain businesses have become so powerful that several governments have become little more than puppets whose strings are pulled in order to ensure that the interests of the business community take top priority. How scary!

The US has often been associated with easy money, luxurious lifestyles, and "democracy". The US might be similar to life in a holiday complex for a relatively small percentage of the population, but there are millions of US citizens who are suffering. The Hunger Report 2010, authored by the Feeding America organisation, "shows that hunger is increasing at an alarming rate in the United States". Listed below are some highly alarming statistics quoted from the same report:

* Feeding America is annually providing food to 37 million Americans, including 14 million children. This is an increase of 46 percent over 2006, when we were feeding 25 million Americans, including 9 million children, each year.
* That means one in eight Americans now rely on Feeding America for food and groceries.
* Feeding America's nationwide network of food banks is feeding 1 million more Americans each week than we did in 2006.
* Thirty-six percent of the households we serve have at least one person working.
* More than one-third of client households report having to choose between food and other basic necessities, such as rent, utilities and medical care.
* The number of children the Feeding America network serves has increased by 50 percent since 2006.

Absolutely shocking! I mean, every country could go through hard times whereby access to certain supplies might be reduced, but the incomprehensible part is this: there are 37 million Americans who are in desperate need of food in the US while individuals such as Kim Kardashian and Hugh Hefner are allowed to retain the resources that could greatly benefit their communities to themselves! Such greed leaves me reeling!

Perhaps I am so bitter towards the lies of capitalism because I also grew up believing that living well depended on getting yourself a good education and working. I have an Honours degree in Psychology together with a string of other qualifications, but the money earned until now has never been sufficient to invest it or to save for an emergency. Living in a credit economy where salaries are kept generally low so that people have to borrow money to buy various items, slavery to debt is practically inevitable. There are individuals in the US who owe thousands of dollars to one or more banks and such money was borrowed to get an education! Why put so much pressure on people? If people are not going to be paid much, there should - at least - be free education, healthcare, housing, transport...

Of course, it is far easier to live in state of denial and to continue thinking that everything is fine while we are almost constantly exposed to "talent" shows and to music videos produced by millionaires. The problem is that once celebrities such as Lady Gaga have finished singing a song, they will just continue raking in more millions of dollars whilst many other millions of people will be trying to make up their minds about whether buying certain medicines might mean the loss of a meal or two...



Anonymous said...

This is such an interesting post.

Between the stats you listed concerning hunger and the report that was just released about childhood eating habits, I seriously think the priorities in the country are reversed at times.

In general, I am bothered by the lack of priority on a variety of services that are basic in order for people to live a life with dignity.

Entertainers and performers are paid so much, its sickening at times. In contrast, people who shape the future of the next generation (teachers) or those who help society function (those in service/blue collar jobs) are paid so little.

Red said...

Bremoni: Thanks a lot for your kind words! I totally agree with you when you say that it is sometimes sickening to see the amount of money earned by entertainers and performers. The sad thing is that very few people seem to find anything wrong with such a state of affairs.