The Twisted DNA of Capitalism: Part IIb Capital and Disease

Capitalism as the Cause of Disease

Health, Dis-ease, and the Political-Economy

Human beings have certain needs if they are to be healthy. Short of meeting these needs, the individual human being is in a state of dis-ease. The most basic needs include food, water, and shelter. It also includes a level of care that can only be provided by a community. The most obvious example of such care is childbirth which cannot be reasonably accomplished by a single, individual woman in any meaningful way. Less obvious is protection, which is by necessity a collective endeavor in a world of much larger and more fearsome creatures.

To be healthy, human beings also need access to specialized knowledge, developed and taught to particular individuals so that no single human being must be a master of all things. This specialized knowledge may include the standard hunting, gathering, and food cultivation, but also includes things such as tool or shelter building, medicine, and myriad other skill sets, not the least of which may be emotional support.

As human tribes evolve into more complex societies, most human needs require participation from others and human and natural resources from broader fields. Take, for example, shelter building. In the tribal conditions from which all humans evolved any one human being may be a fairly capable shelter builder–though obviously, some may be more competent than others. As societies emerge and civilization grows, the quality of shelter also expands so that today, someone living in a grass hut is at a significant disadvantage as compared to someone living in the most basic modern house or apartment. The hut dweller may be able to secure shelter for herself, but the person living in a modern house enjoys immeasurable advantages when it comes to personal and family health–greater protection from the elements, insects, clean drinking water, etc. Hence, in modern society, living in a soddy is considered a negative health indicator because viable, more healthy, alternatives are available. But these alternatives require the combined labor of many countless people, most of whom the homeowner does not know, nor is even aware.

Human evolution has always been a community process. No single human being can live a healthy life, let alone survive, without material, cognitive and emotional resources provided by others. If you don’t believe me, just have someone drop you naked into the wilderness and see how well you do. You may learn fast how to “survive”, but within short order, you will not be able to make any claim to good health. For health, human beings need other human beings. The more advanced the society, the more this human integration must be rationalized.

The rational institutional order charged with organizing the labor of human beings and gathering resources necessary for human health and thriving is the economy. Economies emerged upon the advent of human innovation by which surpluses in food were produced and labor could be divided into specialties. Since the advent of civilization, all elements of human health have been bound to the economy. Expanding trade, productive technologies, and increasingly complex and specialized division of labor have all contributed to human progress and improvements in our standard of living, but they all serve to make individual human beings dependent upon countless others for their health and vigor. These facets of society are necessary components of human health. Therefore, the quality of human health is a direct proxy for evaluating the quality of a nation’s economic systems.

If the ideal political economy is one in which everyone’s health prospects are maximized, then capitalism falls very short. Furthermore, capitalism not only falls short but is rather complicit in creating and perpetuating disease.1

Capitalism Needs a Cure

This is a bold statement. After all, disease has always been and remains an indelible part of human and social existence. Disease existed long before capitalism. Indeed, disease existed long before civilization. How can it be said that capitalism causes disease? Furthermore, a really good argument can be made by our liberal and neo-liberal friends that since the advent of capitalism human beings have experienced liberation from disease in ways unique to modern history. Lifespans are getting longer. Diseases that have long plagued humanity are being cured outright to the point of extinction. Chronic health conditions are subject to treatment, and pain is given a balm for relief. All of this has happened as a result of capitalism.

These are good points, and in many ways unarguable. Modernization, driven by capitalism, has contributed to an undeniable improvement in human health and vitality at a national level. It’s impossible to know if an alternative possibility may have had the same result.

For instance, when Jonas Salk was asked who owned the vaccine that he created, who held the patent–a thoroughly capitalist form of common sense–he responded, “Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?” He was right, of course. The polio vaccine was funded not by investors intent on making a return, but rather by private donations to non-profits. Scientists like Salk, and Sabin were not necessarily incentivized to pursue a cure for polio because they saw it as a profitable endeavor. They dedicated their lives to curing diseases because diseases like polio are awful and curing them is a good and meaningful cause for which to dedicate oneself.

On the other hand, many of the tools and technologies used by Salk were developed and produced using processes driven by capital. Those non-profits received donations from people employed by or employing money derived by capital investment. If not for investment capital, Salk and his like would never have had the means by which to make their discoveries.

Perhaps.

The ascent of capitalism has opened the door to some amazing opportunities–opportunities that may or may not have existed without capitalism. The counter-factual is impossible to discern. What can be discerned, however, is that these opportunities brought forth by capitalism carry with them fairly devastating costs. The burden of these costs is not carried evenly by all citizens within a nation or even globally. In a capitalist system, the holders of capital, and those closest to them, are best positioned to take advantage of these opportunities while the rest carry the burden of the costs. When these costs manifest in the body and the mind, that is disease.

This chapter’s thesis is that disease is central to capitalism. Capitalism may liberate some, like myself and my fortunate family, from the historical horrors of disease, but it does so by casting disease upon others. Disease is perpetuated through a modern political economy for the sake of capital itself. Capitalism perpetuates disease through two major vectors. The first vector is that of poverty as a necessary component of capitalism. That this seems contrary to everything that we have been led to understand about capitalism will be addressed below. The second vector is associated with the capitalist approach to efficiency and externalities.

Capital’s Reliance on Poverty

The United States seems to be improving in health. This happens as rational systems become more efficient and represent a functioning political economy…

A standard test for the influence of capitalism on disease is to take even the most surface look at two groups in any given market economy: The healthy and the unhealthy. There are many avenues of research, but for the purposes of this blog let’s keep it simple. Let’s look at life expectancy. It’s reasonable to assume that healthier people will live longer and, in nations where people are living longer, we have an adequate proxy for health. From this perspective, it looks like the United States is an increasingly healthy place to live. Surely, a less capitalist nation like, say, Cuba couldn’t have such a high life expectancy.

…Which may or may not have anything to do with capitalism.

Um…well…er…let’s move on. 

If we look at life expectancy overall we get a picture of an increasingly healthy society with, arguably, one of the most capitalist health care systems in the world. This is the result of some awesome advances in medicine, food production, public sanitation, self-care, and other resources and technologies. These technologies are explicitly tied to the efficacy of the rational efficiency of the division of labor as well as the political economy.  

If a society can mitigate well-being, then one would expect that all members of the society will benefit from this mitigation. If not, this represents a shortcoming in the political economy.

A wider look at U.S. life expectancy reveals the inadequacies of how we’ve rationalized health care. Yes, we have some amazing tools for improving the quality and length of life in the United States, but not for everyone. Health in the United States has a profound class bias. In the United States, this class bias is often reflected in an equally profound racial/ethnic bias. As of late, however, the capitalist disease has had a disproportionate impact on working-class white males. According to the Brookings Institute, ““Deaths of despair” in midlife, [that is deaths attributed to suicide, depression, alcoholism and drug addiction] rose most dramatically for white non-Hispanic Americans with a high school degree or less—a pattern that diverges sharply from overall rates of “deaths of despair” in midlife in other rich countries.” Deaths of dispair reference deaths resulting from a loss of status associated with economic shifts from stable industrial work to less stable service sector work. In the 1980s, sociologist William Julius Wilson noticed these deaths of despair in black communities devastated by off-shoring. Arlie Hochschild, in a review of the book Deaths of Dispair and the Future of Capitalism, makes the following observation: 

And where might the blue-collar man work? Often for a temp agency or contractor with high turnover, and little employer commitment. So he won’t attend the office Christmas party (there won’t be one) or play on the union baseball team (there is no union). He’s less likely to go to church, organize the Lion’s Club fund-raiser, coach Little League or vote. Most important, four out of 10 such men won’t be coming home to a wife. Many are several girlfriends past the one who is their children’s mother, and a fair number are tragically out of touch with the children themselves.

Arlie Hochschild, New York Times, March 17, 2020

According to the National Center for Biotechnology, “The gap in life expectancy between the richest 1% and poorest 1% of individuals was 14.6 years (95% CI, 14.4 to 14.8 years) for men and 10.1 years (95% CI, 9.9 to 10.3 years) for women. A given society, by virtue of its division of labor and political economy, has created the capacity for people to live on average for more than 90 years. Yet a segment of the population, in this case based on social class, barely makes it to 80 years old. That population is diseased. There can be no question. If you live in a society where disease A has been cured, and you suffer from and die from disease A, the source of your suffering is likely the political economy of your particular society. 

It’s important to understand, however, that this inadequacy on the part of capitalist economies to meet the needs of all of its members is not a shortcoming in how the system is being implemented. It is a feature incorporated into the system. In this case, poverty is the immediate cause of one’s lack of access to the benefits of society. Furthermore, poverty is caused and perpetuated by capitalism itself. It is a feature of capitalism, not a bug. 

To confirm this we need only to listen to capitalism’s most stalwart defenders in the face of what economists are referring to as the Great Resignation. As the impacts of Covid-19 dissipated2, businesses were ready to meet the burgeoning demand from consumers who had money to spend and holes in their wallets. But they couldn’t, because when they posted their job openings, nobody applied. To the Neoliberals the problem was clear. The rabble was too comfortable with all that government support they were receiving to get off its collective ass and return to work.3 Mitch McConnell echoed the standard capitalist line when he said, “We have flooded the zone with checks that I’m sure everybody loves to get, and also enhanced unemployment…And what I hear from business people, hospitals, educators, everybody across the state all week is, regretfully, it’s actually more lucrative for many Kentuckians and Americans to not work than work.”

Of course, it was universally understood among the economic elite that the problem wasn’t anemic wages, benefits, and exploitative working conditions. The problem was the rabble had it easy. Some states all over the country attempted to resolve this problem by terminating benefits. This had very little impact, but the story remains. The story remains because it is embedded into our collective consciousness, personified by Ronald Reagan’s “Welfare Queen” and “Strapping Young Buck.” Give the rabble the means to survive and they will not work.

What is only barely hidden in this discourse is the underlying theme. People must be immiserated and desperate in order to “incentivize” them to do the work we want them to do, under the conditions we create, for the wages we are willing to pay. This sentiment is echoed by Michael Walker of the Fraser Institute, “What happens in those areas where the corporations are successful…? They soon find that they can’t do anymore in that country because the wages are too high now. And what’s that another way of saying? Well, the people are no longer desperate…they’re all plump and healthy. Let’s move on to the next desperate lot…” (The Corporation). Of course, what happens to the “plump and healthy” people once the economic opportunities move away? In essence, if you want to keep jobs in your community…you can’t let yourself get plump and healthy.

What each of these Neoliberals is admitting to is the foundational dependency of capitalism on what Marx referred to as a surplus population. “The lowest sediment of the relative surplus population finally dwells in the sphere of pauperism.” (Marx) Capitalism must have its underclass, immiserated into desperation sufficient to coerce them into work they would otherwise never perform. Without poverty, there is no capitalism. Furthermore, poverty is the leading vector of disease in the modern world. As Marx points out, “It is precisely among the workers of modern industry that we meet with the shortest duration of life.”

…in its blind unrestrainable passion, its werewolf hunger for surplus labour, capital oversteps not only the moral, but even the merely physical maximum bounds of the working day. It usurps the time for growth, development and healthy maintenance of the body. It steals the time required for the consumption of fresh air and sunlight. It higgles over a meal time, incorporating it where possible with the process of production itself, so that food is given to the labourer as to a mere means of production…It reduces the sound sleep needed for the restoration…of the bodily powers…it is the greatest possible daily expenditure of labour power, no matter how diseased, compulsory, and painful it may be, which is to determine the limits of the labourers’ period of repose. Capital cares nothing for the length of life of labour power.

Karl Marx, Capital

Therefore, even in the face of a viral pandemic, any effort to offer working people some level of health and comfort must be met with austerity. Capital depends on the desperation inherent to poverty. That much of the Great Resignation could be accounted for by people staying home for fear of contracting a virus under unhealthy working conditions, or were themselves ill or caring for loved ones who were ill, only furthers this thesis.

Make no mistake. Poverty is a disease. A simple mental experiment makes the point. Let’s say I told you that something in the United States was killing as many as 800,000 Americans a year. That the symptoms include as much as a 70% increase risk of Cardio Vascular Disease and a 40%-60% increase risk of diabetes. This condition causes a lower life expectancy and an increased risk of child and postpartum mortality. Victims of this condition were at greater risk of experiencing mental illness as well as impaired brain development, especially in childhood. Childhood victims of this condition could expect to suffer from physical and mental damage for the rest of their lives. Between four and five percent of all U.S. deaths were attributable to this one factor. What would you say?

Certainly, such a condition constitutes a national health emergency comparable to COVID. Let’s get Dr. Fauci on the phone and figure this shit out fast. Find a vaccine. Wear a mask. Do something. We should certainly do something.

But we are doing nothing. We’re not even really talking about poverty in these terms because capitalism relies on poverty for its very existence. Questioning the rationale of poverty outside of the moral platitudes about poor people being lazy, stupid, or otherwise inferior and thus deserving of their status means questioning the very common sense of capitalism itself.

Disease as an Externality of Capitalism

Me and my Little Pink Lady, Falcor

As I’m writing this, I’m looking at my dog, Falcor. I call Falcor my Little Pink Lady. She is an albino Doberman. She is also blind and functionally deaf.

Because of capitalism.

You see, her breeder was trying to come up with a white Doberman, because such a beautiful dog could be sold for a lot of money. And she really is a beautiful dog. So he (I’m assuming it was a he) bred Dobermans to express the albino gene. I’m sure he was able to develop some beautiful, albino dogs that were perfectly healthy, though albinos, having no melanin, are subject to all kinds of skin disorders. That being said, undeveloped eyes and tympanic membranes is a side effect of this kind of breeding technique. My Little Pink Lady was the victim of both conditions. Her eyes are there, but undeveloped. She is able to hear intracranially, but not very well and she has no ability to determine the directionality of the sounds she does hear.

This was not a problem for the breeder. The breeder made plenty of money from his successful puppies. As far as he was concerned, Falcor was an externality. In other words, she was a cost to be passed on to someone else. To his credit, he didn’t put her down. But she, and now my wife and I, have taken on the costs of his heartless process of production.4

If you could read the last few paragraphs without being touched and outraged by the inhumanity of such a process, then you are probably the perfect capitalist. If you were touched and outraged, it is likely that you directed that rage toward the heartless breeder rather than the equally heartless system within which he was operating. The breeder was driven by profit motive, using the factors of production at his command to further himself economically. Falcor and however many dogs in his kennels were nothing more than a component factor of his production process. He simply engaged these factors in a rational process by which Falcor was nothing more than an actuarial contingency that he almost certainly had factored into his cost/benefit analysis. Such and such a breeding strategy will result in a probable x number of healthy dogs that can be sold and y number of deformed dogs that cannot. My probable marginal revenue is z. Period.

Falcor’s story is just one brief anecdote in the larger story of Capitalism and Disease. It’s representative of how disease is perpetuated through the very processes of inhuman capitalist rationalism. In this story, Falcor’s deformities were nothing more than the reasonable costs of doing business. Furthermore, as is inherent in capitalist systems, it was a cost that could be “externalized” onto someone else. In this case, my wife and I took on the cost. However, as Ezra Klein points out on his invaluable podcast, an often ignored externality is the costs that are borne by nonhuman actors like cows, pigs, chickens, and in this case, my Little Pink Lady.

Falcor is, in other words, not an exceptional and tragic case study. She is the norm for capitalist production.

A norm that you and I are subject to at least as much as is Falcor. You’re not immune just because you are not a dog.

For the sake of brevity,5 let’s take a look at only one segment of efficient capitalist production as it relates to disease.

If there is a segment of the economy that is instrumental to human health, it is food production. In many ways, the capitalist food production that emerged from the industrialization of agriculture in the 19th and 20th centuries can be described as almost miraculous. Capitalist efficiencies and globalization have created a system by which a relatively small number of farmers are able to produce enough food to feed billions of people all over the world. In many ways, the quality of that food has improved. For the first time in history, meat has become a veritable staple for large segments of the world, especially in advanced nations. There is much to be said for our modern system of food production.

Yet, this very system by which the entire world is fed, is also a source of disease. Our food systems evolved through capitalism and are, therefore, not designed to meet the health and nutrition needs of human beings through processes that are also sustainable and healthy for the environment. That would be a sane, humane system. Instead, our food system is primarily interested in profit. health and nutrition are of secondary interest. Disease is nothing more than a cost of doing business to be weighed against the profit margins and, optimally, externalized onto others.

In researching this post I found that the Global Alliance for the Future of Food has an excellent report summarizing the health impacts of our food system, or rather how capitalist food production causes disease. The report, Unravelling the Food-Health Nexus identifies five vectors by which capitalist food production causes disease: occupational hazards, environmental contamination, unsafe foods, unhealthy dietary patterns, and food insecurity.

That our food production workers are poisoned should come as no surprise. American meat production plants were ground zero for COVID outbreaks to the point that Congressman James Clyburn reported, “The impact of the coronavirus on the essential workers of the meatpacking industry was both terrible and avoidable…” More mundane sources, according to the report, include poisoning from pesticides and other chemicals, work-related injuries often due to inhuman production requirements, and job stressors. The victims of this disease also happen to be among the most marginalized in our society, overwhelmingly poor people of color, many of whom are not citizens and often not documented. So, access to adequate health services also plays a role.

Here in Southwest Florida, we are very intimately aware of the disease wrought from the environmental impacts of big ag. Not a year goes by when we do not experience the health impacts of red tide and other algal blooms resulting from our farming processes. Diseases resulting from agricultural runoff include everything from diarrhea to flesh-eating bacteria. Further diseases emerge from the process of food development. One major contributor is brutal, dystopic man-made ecosystems called CAFOs, or concentrated animal feeding operations. This and other such operations contribute to diseases including anti-biotic resistant organisms, salmonella, botulism to a human variant of Mad Cow Disease that literally eats brains.

It should come as no surprise that the food produced through diseased methods should produce illness. Food is infused with antibiotics, dyes, preservatives and a sundry of unpronounceable chemical additives. They are also filled with products like high fructose corn syrup, a liver toxin that serves the very profitable function of increasing appetite–you actually get hungrier as you eat. That it destroys the digestive system is, of course, an externality of little interest to the stockholders. Trans fats and other processed “foods” barely even qualify as edible and are perhaps better described as poison. That’s not to mention other products that are technically labelled “food” despite having no nutritional value whatsoever, such as soft drinks. That so much of our diet is not so much unhealthy as it is poisonous is related to the unhealthy eating practices promoted by our capitalist system primed to encourage mindless consumption rather than health, nutrition or sustainable use.

If a nation wanted to design a food production system that would meet the needs of its citizens, it would look nothing like the capitalist catastrophe we have. Nobody would design a system that was so destructive, so inhumanly awful, so toxic for the sake of food production. Yet this is the system we have. That’s not to say that healthy food is not available. Certainly, it is. To put this in perspective, what we now call “organic” food was, once upon a time, just called food. Our capitalist food system is one where traditional, nutritious food is more expensive and processed junk is what’s available to the majority of people. These capitalist alternatives to food are scientifically designed to get you to eat more than you need while providing less nutritional value than is required, while at the same time poisoning you. The consequence includes epidemic obesity that is literally destroying our bodies from the inside by crushing and inflaming our organs.

It is not the intent of this post to elaborate on the toxic nature of capitalist food production. There are many great sources that can cover the issue greater than I. For the purposes of this thesis, food production is only one example of many segments of the economy that should be dedicated to meeting human needs but is not. When the focus is on profit motive rather than human needs and sustainability then the problems that must be solved by producers change. For food producers like Tyson-Armour or General Mills, the problem is not one of efficiently meeting the needs of all people while at the same time developing human, humane and sustainable systems. Instead, the process is defined by a cynical cost/benefit analysis that weighs the costs of selling poison over selling nourishment. Often, selling the poison is cheaper and more profitable. The manufacturer can use simple vegetable oil, or it can infuse the vegetable oil with hydrogen, which stores better and lasts longer, and keeps the food from spoiling, but has the little downside of killing people slowly with Cardiovascular Disease. The latter point is not a matter for the capitalist producer, as that cost is simply externalized to the consumer through increased health costs, loss of productivity, and ultimately an early death. Well worth it.

Globalized Externalities

All right, Andoscia, but look around you. Look at all the progress that has been made. Just about everyone in the United States who wants a car has a car, if not more than one. Even the poorest Americans have cell phones and can communicate on Facebook. What is considered “poor” housing in the United States is far superior than adequate housing in underdeveloped and developing countries all over the world. Yes, there are some problems, but you have to admit that one is much better off being poor in the United States and other advanced capitalist nations than they are in their underdeveloped nations. That’s why they all want to come here.

Photographer Jacob Riis cataloged the disease of poverty

If I were writing this piece in the latter half of the nineteenth century it would be a much easier thesis to prove. One needed only to walk a few blocks on any city street and turn the corner before arriving upon the slums that defined urban life. These cholera and tuberculosis ridden slums were the productive engine of American capitalism, where the cheap, desperate urban labor was stored. Indeed, I wouldn’t bother to even write this series because anyone interested needed to look no further than Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, or the photography of Jacob Riis, or even just looked around their own city with a discerning eye. The disease of poverty was all around. There was no hiding it. This everyday reminder that the wealth of the nation was carried by the disease of the masses became the impetus of progressive and radical social movements intent on changing such an inequitable world. Before World War I and during the Great Depression, these movements were made significant progress in ameliorating some of the worst symptoms of the capitalist disease.

Capitalists responded to the success of radical and labor movements by offshoring poverty. Capitalism was always an imperial project. The innovations of the late 19th and early 20th century, free trade, globalization, dollar diplomacy, entrenched the role of capital in the export of poverty. It is no coincidence that the successes of the Progressive Movement, child labor laws, sewer socialism, labor protections, regulations of food and drugs, growth of municipal services, happened as the United States was becoming an international imperial power, deriving wealth not just from domestic investment, but global exploitation. Some of that wealth was set aside, albeit grudgingly by the capitalist class, to socialize some fundamental sectors of the economy. The apparent disappearance or obscurity of absolute poverty in the United States and other advanced nations, however, was not the result of successful capitalism. It was the result of hard fought social democracy.

A slum in India (one of the fastest growing economies in the world) is a reproduction of the slums that used to exist in current “advanced” economies. When capitalism was offshored to developing countries, so was poverty and disease. In this case, the pipe the child in the center of the image is running on is carrying water to paid customers in Mumbai.

These benefits, however, are still derived from the fruits of capitalism. Make no mistake. The benefits of capitalism continue to demand a disproportionate sacrifice from poor people. In this case, the exploited poor are offshore in the countries that make the bulk of our consumer goods, like Mumbai, India at left. Using capital extracted from poor and developing countries, core nations are able to socialize some of the costs of capitalism within their own borders. The extent to which nation-states are willing to socialize benefits to its own citizens is taken as a indicator of their civility. Social safety nets can be extended, support for the unemployed…in the most civilized advanced nations even higher education and health care are at least in part socialized to attenuate some of the damage caused by capitalism.

But this minimal socialization of extracted wealth does not alleviate disease in the global sense, and capitalism is and always has rested on globalized extraction. Rather it shifts the burden of disease from citizens of an “advanced” nation-state to “those people” in some nebulous “underdeveloped” or more vulgarly referred “shithole” country. Furthermore, an underlying factor to the spread of diseases like malaria and polio in such nations rests on the fact that capitalist medicine can’t derive enough profit from these impoverished populations to justify the investment. So long as our view of capitalism carries only so far as our national borders, we cannot see the full scope of the disease that is capitalism.

And that is perfectly fine with the beneficiaries of capitalism. By beneficiaries of capitalism, I do not mean just the major stockholders, investors, and the upper management serving the economic elite. I mean most of us interacting with this post, including myself. If you are, like me, living comfortably, unconcerned about the spread of disease in your particular neighborhood, then you are in many ways a beneficiary of global capital.6 It’s discomforting to know that much of the benefits that you enjoy are derived at the expense of the lives and health of others. When those others are far away, they are not your neighbors or family members, they are more easily dismissed. They are over there. They are foreign. They can be ignored or brushed off as inferior cultures, unable or unwilling to build their own thriving capitalist economies. Life is much easier for us if we see ourselves disconnected from the global economy.

Unfortunately for us, the global economy is bound to the natural world. Biological interactions taking place in a Wuhan wet market cannot be contained to the borders of the Chinese nation-state. Disease follows trade routes.

The relationship between capitalism, or any form of political-economy for that matter, and disease cannot be ignored. It cannot be ignored because human beings are a component of the Earth’s biome, and our economy is the main locus of interaction between that biome and the satisfaction of human needs. The two are inextricably linked and cannot be otherwise. Yet capitalism is founded upon principles of exploitation. Capitalist exploitation is centered on expropriating and organizing human labor, but it is equally premised on expropriating and extracting natural resources. This expropriation and extraction is conducted in terms of capitalist rationality and efficiency defined in terms of benefiting the presumed owners of the factors of production. The essay above has elaborated the human, physiological costs of this project.

This focus on human disease, however, only scratches the surface. It turns out that capitalist disease is not just a human phenomenon, but is rather a cancer on the entirety of the global biome. Whereas we may be able to isolate the human toll of disease in so-called underdeveloped countries, the consequences of disease at the level of the biome cannot be contained by any political construct. Disease at the global level is, therefore, the focus of the next post.

Notes

  1. It’s hard to find this when analyzing health indices against global data sources like the Index of Economic Freedom. Indeed, if one runs a correlation between the Economic Freedom Index and the Global Health Security Index, the result is negative. As Economic Freedom increases, health indices decrease. This doesn’t really hold up when looking at individual factors of economic freedom such as private property and business freedom, which tends to have a positive correlation. It’s important to note that most advanced nations subsidize capitalism by socializing health care to greater or lesser extents. Even in the United States, the most expensive citizens, the poor and the old, benefit from largely (albeit inadequately) socialized health care. So this chapter will focus on the particulars of capitalism as it relates to the health consequences of poverty and exploitation inherent to the system.
  2. “Dissipated” is, of course, a matter of perspective. The initial Covid virus and the devastating Delta strain had waned, but the even more infectious Omicron strain was in high gear and growing. A combination of security related to vaccines, political obstinacy, and overall fatigue, resulted in no more than a half-hearted response to this latest threat despite the fact that so many more Americans are being stricken by this strain than earlier strains.
  3. I should note, though this fact is outside the parameters of this essay, that this claim is not true. For instance, when conservative states ended government support early, they did not experience an increase in people looking for work. Further studies suggest that the major reasons why people are not returning to work have to do with concerns about COVID, the expense of childcare, and at home care of children, sick, or elderly family members. Not to mention the fact that many jobs really suck, and people just don’t want to do them anymore–at least not for the paltry pay that they were getting.
  4. I cannot speak on the breeder’s attitude with regard to this little mishap. I do know that Falcor ended up adopted by a family that could not handle her special needs. Not only is she blind and deaf, but she is also a very intelligent, high energy, Doberman. She was given to a no-kill shelter where she could find nobody to adopt her. She was transferred to another. She spent over a year in the shelter before my wife found her and we adopted her. My wife and I both have experience with behavior modification, so we were able to use touch commands and odors to help train her. Falcor is now a happy, though sometimes naughty, member of the family.
  5. I know. I know. Look, these are complicated subjects and I’m doing the best that I can.
  6. If you are a wage or salary earner, then you are still being exploited. But the chances are pretty good that so long as you perceive a mostly comfortable life, you are secure in your exploitation.

Sources

https://www.haymarketbooks.org/books/1548-consequences-of-capitalism

https://slate.com/technology/2014/04/the-real-reasons-jonas-salk-didnt-patent-the-polio-vaccine.html

https://hbr.org/2021/09/who-is-driving-the-great-resignation

https://www.bea.gov/news/2022/personal-income-and-outlays-december-2021

https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicholasreimann/2021/05/24/florida-the-latest-state-dropping-300-a-week-federal-unemployment-benefits/?sh=2c1019657307

https://www.salon.com/2014/01/11/the_racism_at_the_heart_of_the_reagan_presidency/

The Corporation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpQYsk-8dWg&t=1467

Marx, Karl. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-other-reason-the-labor-force-is-shrunken-fear-of-covid-19-11618163017

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