Capitalism is built on inequality, social corruption and human greed. Capitalism can be defined as ““an economic or political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit.” This system runs our politics and economy. Many aspects of our society are also influenced by capitalism.
Many of us are aware that the majority of our society’s wealth is concentrated in the top 1%. CNBC reports that “the top 1% of Americans have about 16 times more wealth than the bottom 50%.” That is $41.52 trillion while the bottom half only has $2.62 trillion all together.
The majority of the U.S.’s biggest companies are privately owned. A private owner is an individual or organization who possesses a non-governmental company. CNBC reports that 57% of private companies are owned by the top 1%. Capitalism has allowed this to happen because of its ability to “incentivize businesses to maximum efficiency.” This, mixed with human greed, has damaging effects on the everyday citizen. These effects can be seen in our education, health, food and even in the music industry.
So, how does capitalism affect our education system? By allowing colleges to put 22-year-olds in debt. Why is it okay for broke 18-year-olds to accept loans when the bank won’t give a mortgage loan to someone who has been in the workforce for years? Student loan debt has reached over $1.2 trillion, said the Scholarship System.
When I graduate from NC State, I will be over $30,000 in debt. The crazier thing is that six months after my graduation date, this debt will start to accumulate interest. By the time I am done paying off my debt, I will have paid more than what I was loaned. How is this possible? Because private owners, who are only focused on increasing their net worth, own the companies that are handing out these loans.
To bring the situation closer to home, an article in last issue issue talked about the funding of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHASS) compared to the STEM programs here at NC State.
Many would argue that the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math programs receive more funding because they bring more money to the campus. But just as Staff Writer Nadia Hargett said in her article, “Where’s the Budget for CHASS,” “STEM has practical, ‘real-world’ applications that are necessary in our constantly evolving world. Humanities and social sciences, on the other hand, preserve the human experience and enable people to express their thoughts creatively and grow their connections with each other.”
Each program adds to the world in its own unique way. However, since private owners view STEM programs as more important, because they bring in more money, CHASS and the STEM departments do not get funded on an equal level.
How about Big Pharma? Big Pharma refers to pharmaceutical companies. Growing up, and even now, we all have a recollection of a medicine commercial. The commercial would advertise a medicine that would help with one problem, but then provide a host of other symptoms that you will have to also pay to get fixed. And who would you have to pay to fix these problems? The same pharmaceutical companies that advertised the initial drug for your first problem. This is known as disease-mongering. Disease-mongering is when companies tell healthy people that they are sick in order to make more money.
Health is one of the biggest categories that Americans spend their money on. With a staggering $4.7 trillion, which is over $12,000 per person, 18% of the national economy is spent on healthcare, said the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.
I think healthcare should be free. In my opinion, it is another basic human right. People are going to get sick. People have a limited amount of control around their health, especially when we live in an economy where we are consuming more genetically modified products.
Companies know that the more real the food is, the healthier it is, and in turn, the healthier the general population. So why are big companies producing food that is not good for the human body? A potato decomposes completely in about two weeks. McDonalds’ fries show no sign of aging after six years, said the TODAY Show. Some may say this is because of the preservatives that are added to make the french fries last longer, but even these preservatives can turn into cancer causing agents.
These cancer causing agents continue to help Big Pharma make a profit from the intentional harm of everyday citizens. Lower income families can only afford the cheaper foods and this includes McDonalds. Healthline said, “consuming a diet that heavily relies on fast food such as McDonald’s can significantly increase the risk of chronic health conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes due to the high levels of saturated and trans fats, sodium, added sugars and additives found in these foods.” Once these conditions occur, who do people turn to for help? Big Pharma.
This is the kind of food that lower income families have to depend on. America is in crisis because many of its citizens are obese. CDC said “more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, and frequent fast-food consumption has been shown to contribute to weight gain.” Even though the United States is the unhealthiest country in the world, the fast food industry does not do much to help because it makes over $322 billion a year in the U.S. alone.
Not only has capitalism allowed big companies to get away with putting young adults in debt, making people ill and allowing companies to feed people unhealthy food, it has also allowed big companies to control the music industry.
Rapper Meek Mill said in an interview that “they actually pay us more to rap about more ignorant stuff…”
The private owners of the record companies expressed to artists, like Meek Mill, that they would get paid more if they wrote about negative topics. Too many young people have been influenced by the music industry. I am not excluded from this demographic.
The question is, why are artists encouraged to sing and rap about topics that can be detrimental to their audience? Michael Boucher, a journalist, said, “Drugs and violence sells music…Record companies will do anything to sell music, including promoting your client, or rapper to talk about violent and inappropriate themes to sell records.” In this way, capitalism encourages negative attributes.
To combat the negative effects of capitalism, it is our job to take a stand against big companies and fight for what we believe is just. Even if you can’t do much, there are some things you can do to protect your household. Grow your own food, research safe and effective home remedies for sickness and monitor what you are watching and listening to. Take control of your life. I know I will.