Sunday, September 1, 2013

Capitalism: A Criminal Enterprise

The problem with seeing the world in terms of money is that you miss the world.

Apparently, that’s a prerequisite of the capitalist mindset. Given the choice between a healthy environment and a healthy bottom line, the committed capitalist will consistently choose the healthy bottom line. If the choice is between clean, pure water that communities depend on for life support and hydrofracked natural gas to sell on the open market, they’ll go for the money, communities be damned. If they must choose between healthy ocean ecosystems that benefit all life and a temporary supply of cheap fossil energy to sell on the open market, they’ll choose the money without a thought that a collapsed ocean ecosystem will eventually doom us all. In any situation where the choices are sustainability or short-term profits, diehard capitalists take the money and run.

Such is the allure of the dollar sign, that seductive icon of wealth and power and international symbol of greed. In musing, it seems probable that dollar signs are to human eyes as blinders are to a horse. Blinders keep the eyes focused on what’s immediately ahead while allowing the wearer to avoid sight of anything in the least bit scary, disturbing or unpleasant. Dollar signs enable capitalists to ignore global warming and deny climate change while they go about their daily business of converting essential wealth into short-term profits.

Capitalism, which pits the wants of a few against the needs of the many, depends primarily on theft for its success. It starts with the theft of the land, followed by the plundering of natural resources in and on the land and in, on or under the oceans, the theft of workers’ time and labor throughout the full range of production processes and, finally, the theft of environmental services and of taxpayers' dollars allocated to clean up the mess capitalists leave in their wake. Without theft, capitalism really doesn't work very well; it’s just not profitable.