Sunday, October 01, 2006

Who Can Afford Life?

What a truly dysfunctional society we have created that tells us that some lives are worth more than others. Only those that can afford a safe car, car seats, side-collision airbags, reinforced steel, etc., etc… “Larger, heavier cars with poor ratings may easily produce better results than smaller cars with good ratings” ( But who can afford the heavier cars? For that matter, how many poor families in poor states like Montana—which happen to have very high traffic fatality rates—can afford a new car with basic safety features at all? Besides, even if you’re lucky to be in one of the safest small vehicles, you will still not survive a collision with Richie Rich’s Hummer.

What does a poor family choose to do as winter nears and they have to decide whether or not to buy much needed new tires to make their cars safer or to take their sick children to the doctor during flu season? The fact is money doesn’t go far enough and millions of American families are forced to make decisions that one should not be forced to make.

Health care is but one of many factors in the widening gap of haves and have nots. Fewer and fewer Americans can afford the best medical care. The rest are left to decide whether or not they should tough out preventable and curable illnesses. Disclaimers, caveats and loopholes make many group medical plans (HMOs, etc.) dangerously deceiving to unsuspecting and ignorant policyholders. In some cases, specific procedures that are necessary for survival are seen as “elective,” such as some organ transplant surgeries. Millions of Americans depend on their employee insurance to protect them and their families, yet are completely unaware of exactly what their insurance affords them. Besides, the out-of-pocket expenses make insurance a less-than-effective means for sound health care. Again, the “unaffordability” of health care determines that only a select group of people are worthy of care.

It is striking to think of the political platform of many American politicians and their supporters that claim to be against abortion, calling themselves “pro-life.” In many cases, these same politicians are the ones that are against socialized medicine—a system of medical care that nearly all of the first-world countries employ. Not coincidentally, first-world countries with socialized medicine have much better overall public health and health care. What on earth are we waiting for? A “pro-lifer” seems to be telling the world that they are “pro-life” only up until the point that the person is born, then afterwards…not so much!

Money buys one the means of production, influence, power, safe cars (that kill the people in the little cars), best lawyers, best education, best houses, best cars, best health care, best food, luxury items, best clothing, best vacations, and on and on…those without money, well…I guess you can join the rich man’s army and fight their wars.

The sickness of capitalism is further highlighted in “terminator seeds.” Terminator Technology, a brainchild of the monstrosity known as Monsanto, was designed as a means for restricting the natural process of seed regeneration, thereby forcing farmers to purchase their seeds each year from, you guessed it: Monsanto and Co. To me, very few modern business practices more eloquently express the incompatibility of a capitalist system and the natural order. A company thinks up a way to create an everlasting monopolistic dependency by modifying the most basic processes of life: life itself. The process creates seeds that are sterile so that they can not regenerate. Perhaps this is capitalism at its worst, but innumerable cases such as Monsanto abound, and they only serve to add more evidence of its “anti-life” by-products.

Capitalism cannot be reformed, nor would an informed and aware populace wish to reform it. Since the world is divided into a capitalist class and a working class, the work must be to continue to point out to the working class the absurdity and “anti-life” nature of capitalism. We must be made more and more aware of the oppressor. This work involves highlighting the fundamental disparity between capitalism and democracy. Theses two concepts have been too closely linked and they should be clearly demarcated through education.

The Wobblies, IWW, in Butte, Montana from 1905-1920 believed that the raising of the social consciousness and the overall education of the working class was a natural process of direct action. They believed that true revolutionaries would lead the revolution through direct action and the working class that participated in these actions were learning of the actual power, inherent rights and dignity they had when they acted.

Perhaps many once believed that the feudal system was inevitable, immutable and eternal. Yet a quick glance through history reminds us that there is a definite trend towards libertarian socialism. Long live the social revolution!


Aprilloper said...

Your comment about "pro-life till birth" seems particularity accurate. I have also often thought that health care through private insurance is also a prime example of profiting from others misfortune and suffering.

When I have pondered the issue of corporations patenting the human genomes I keep wondering at what point will we have to pay royalties to Monsanto or some other corporation in order to reproduce ourselves. (How would the pro-life crowd respond to such a situation, I wonder?) This seems to be one area that not even the Sci-Fi writers wish to explore too deeply, corporate-capitalism at it's full manifestation.

I once asked my economics professor if DNA was a natural resource or a commodity, her comment was that it was a natural resource until it was patented by a company then it became a commodity. I argued that it was in a class not covered by the normal designations of economics but was in fact more akin to gravity, it exists but not patentable or saleable.

The example being: if a company pattens the genome that makes stripes on tigers, then the company could charge zoos and tiger breeders royalties for all tigers born with stripes, and is a tiger without stripes in fact still a tiger? But how is the company going to collect royalties from wild tigers that have cubs in the jungle, if there are any wild tigers left?

Does the company in fact own the tiger or just the stripes, and how would tiger stripes be valued and traded as a commodity? What is the substitute commodity for tiger stripes, that can be used when the supply of tiger stripes becomes limited and cost rise? Are leopard spots on a tiger a reasonable substitution?

I have never gotten an answer to these questions. I know this tangent about tiger stripes is bordering on the insane compared to Che Bob's well reasoned post but I do have a point.

Whether it be tiger stripes or corn with fish genes, DNA is what makes something into what it is. Therefore when it is rearranged and tampered with, GMO corn is no longer corn but something else entirely, it may look like corn and taste like corn, but it really isn't corn and it isn't living either because it's ability to reproduce has been striped away by Monsanto and others.

Life and the ability to create life belong to life, and not one small group of technologically advanced primates that has the tools to mess with life. The same can be said about self-determination, when enough of us get tired of the canned, packaged and bar coded “bread” and get tired of watching the corporate sponsored “circuses” on TV, the revolution will begin, but people won't be taking to the streets in their cars, we will be walking like our revolutionary ancestors. Because nothing scares the powerful more than the streets full of unhappy people.

troutsky said...

I agree aprilloper, the owner class will continue to commodify our existence until we stand up and say ENOUGH! Patenting the genome is the perfect example of capital enclosing the commons, colonizing the public sphere under a system of laws designed for that exact purpose.But laws are simply a "policing " problem.They can be changed or dismantled in an instant.

The more difficult task,it seems to me, is the emancipation of peoples consciousness because people have adopted as their new religion the very strategies that enslave them. For example, embracing a savage social Darwinism that allows them to think oppressing others and being oppressed are rational! Believing it is a world of "all against all" they isolate themselves into easily exploited islands of paranoid aloneness.It is our duty to show them the power of organizing.

John in Montana said...

Social Darwinism is something I have been struggling with for quite a while. Isn't our ability to reason an evolutionary adaptation that allows us to better survive(compete)? The ability to reason is largely responsible for allowing us to leave the trees and survive.
I think we need to seperate the ability to reason from our reasoning. I don't think they are one and the same. Just because we have the ability to reason doesn't mean that we should act a certain way does it? Our ability to reason was evolved simply to allow us to better compete against one another.
On the other hand, as we have evolved maybe our reasoning (conscience) has evolved as well to make us think about the ramifications of subscribing to an entirely Social Darwinistic perspective. So then can we say that those who care only about themselves are less evolved? I like the sound of that - Republicans need to evolve. As a sidebar, with our given population crisis, our reasoning should suggest that we adopt a prairie dog (altruistic) model if any of us want our kids to be around in a few hundred years.