Thursday, May 07, 2020

Our insane system

Every child who dies from famine in the world – is a murderJean Ziegler, former UN-Rapporteur on Food in Africa.

The capitalist system rewards employers with profits from the work of their employees. Yet because of a phenomenon known as the business cycle it fails to keep them in regular permanent work. Capitalism is inherently socially irrational. Capitalism sees itself as a “rational” economic system. Yet, it is irrational to deprive employees of jobs when the tools, equipment and raw materials needed to produce socially useful goods and services are available. It is likewise irrational to allow workplaces to sit idle gathering rust and dust rather than reconfiguring or restructuring them to be safe as locations for socially useful production. it is irrational to deprive the whole society of the goods and services capable of being produced by workers.

The prospect of unemployment plagues workers and their families with anxieties. The experience of unemployment is associated with rising levels of depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, marital problems, child abuse, and other social ills. It is likewise associated with declining levels of worker self-esteem, job skills, personal savings, and physical and mental health. Apologists of capitalism are always concerned that unemployed workers, being victims of capitalism, will be a receptive audience for anti-capitalists.

If profit led capitalists to decisions that are socially irrational — like firing millions of employees — then profit should not be society’s decisive criterion. We should replace the profit system with a different criteria.

The poor cannot live without employment. Not only have many or most already lost their meagre livelihood but they still need to scrape together enough to feed their families and themselves. They have to go out and work for food and if there is no work, no income – they may resort to ransacking supermarkets in the city or farms in the country side. Food to sustain life is essential. Taking the opportunity to buy food away from people is outright murder.

Is there hope? Yes, there is hope, as long as we live. Seven billion people will eventually wake up and realise what is happening to them.  

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