The world’s problems are your problems. Even if you live in a safe, middle-class suburb, there are still forces creeping into your house that are slowly killing you and threatening the survival of your descendants. If you’re not teaching yourself about the world’s problems and trying to figure out your own solutions, then you’re just waiting to die.
This is serious. There’s a herd of metaphorical bears running straight towards you and your village. Making excuses for why it’s not your responsibility to give your impending demise your full attention is justifying suicide. If you’re not qualified to deal with bears, you need to become qualified, network with someone who is or find a workaround within your abilities.
The world’s problems are so big and complex, it’s dizzying to figure out where to even begin listing them. So I’ll give you some advice that will get you started and save some steps putting everything in perspective. The world’s problems have many seeds, but most of them wouldn’t have grown into towering banyan trees without being thoroughly watered with poverty. If you can fix poverty, then the other evils it creates and exacerbates will wither away.
The root cause of poverty is predatory capitalism. I say “predatory capitalism,” because “capitalism” is just private ownership of a business, which isn’t the issue. The problem is that America’s standard business model takes this concept to its most ruthless extreme. The economy is based on the premise that the purpose of businesses is to make as much profit as possible for the owner/s, which is accomplished primarily by paying workers as little, and charging customers as much, as supply and demand will allow.
This isn’t just a formula for poverty. It’s the formula for poverty. On paper, it looks deceptively innocuous, but it’s tearing the world apart. Below is a list of 14 apocalyptic problems that can be reduced from mountains to molehills by using an economic system that isn’t based on creating, sustaining and increasing economic inequality.
1: Starvation and obesity
Disney recently released a movie titled, “Tomorrowland,” in which a character asks, “How are there simultaneous epidemics of starvation and obesity?” The answer is poverty.
In a predatory economy, farms can’t give food away for free because they’d go bankrupt. Most farmers can’t even afford to sell their products at reasonable prices, because everything they have to buy to run their company and take care of their family, costs as much as possible. The largest corporations could lower their prices, but they beat their competition and established themselves as market leaders by caring more about profit than human life or happiness to begin with. If they ever stopped exploiting their customers and workers, they’d lose their market share to a competitor who will.
Corporations improve their competitiveness by growing food in third world countries using slave labor and then shipping their harvests back to first world markets where they can charge the highest price. This causes a false food shortage in third world countries, which raises the price higher than the local slaves can afford.
However, obesity isn’t an epidemic in first world countries like America because their citizens are living as extravagantly as French aristocracy, but because food companies further lower their operating costs and maximize profits by mixing their products with preservatives, flavoring, coloring, and filler. So instead of first world consumers getting the best nutrition from around the world at the cheapest price, they get the most unhealthy, processed junk food at the highest price.
Americans who make minimum wage can’t afford healthy, unmolested food. So they grow up eating boxes, bags, and cans of chemical mulch saturated in sugar, growth hormones and carcinogens, which sets them up for health problems later in life. There’s no conspiracy to commit chemical warfare on the civilian population. Businesses are just designed to make the most profit, and you make the most profit by selling the cheapest product at the highest price, regardless of the cost to human life.
2: High health care costs
The law of supply and demand says the more people need something, the more they’re willing to pay for it, and predatory capitalism says to match your prices to your customer’s desperation level. So going to the hospital to fix the inevitable health problems caused by stress and poison is as expensive as possible because medical schools and medical supply companies charge doctors and hospitals extortionate prices. Doctors then pass the exploitative costs onto their customers while also increasing the final price even higher to further take advantage of their customers’ vulnerability.
To make matters worse, the American government’s solution to unaffordable medical costs is to force everyone to buy unaffordable insurance that doesn’t cover the cost of medical bills. For reasons I discuss later in this essay, Americans blame the problem on socialism, even though forcing people to buy useless insurance isn’t socialism. That’s predatory capitalism taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich in exchange for nothing.
The world has enough resources to house everyone. In America, there are already six times more empty houses than homeless people. The reason working class families can’t afford to buy abandoned property is because the government, in collusion with lending institutions, has inflated the price of real estate through convoluted mortgage laws.
At the same time, the rich are buying up more land than they need, creating false scarcity that further drives up prices and fuels a never-ending cycle of housing bubbles/bursts that teeter back and forth between excluding the poor from being able to afford homes and then decimating the equity of those who could.
Since landlords and businesses have to pay the same extortionate mortgages, they pass on the cost of extortion to their renters and customers. That’s why rent is so damn high. This isn’t just “how life is.” This is a predatory business model invented to take money from the poor and give it to the rich in exchange for nothing.
4: Lack of basic utilities
If everyone who works was guaranteed food, water, shelter, electricity, telecommunications, and transportation, then most of the fear and pain in the world would be eliminated. Then everyone could get on with their lives and only have to worry about the most important issues.
The reason utilities are scarce isn’t that we lack the resources. It’s because the people who own the world’s resources make them as prohibitively expensive as possible. Even when governments build and operate their own utilities, they have to buy the materials at inflated prices, limiting the services they can provide.
Public utilities are becoming a thing of the past anyway since private (and often foreign) companies have been bribing politicians into privatizing those services for decades. The companies taking over utilities claim they can provide a better product at a cheaper price, but the ultimate goal of business is to make profits, which is why you can always expect the cost of utilities to go up, and you’ll keep finding more meaningless fees on your bills.
The definition of stress is, “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.”
Nothing is more stressful than fearing for your life, and everything you need to survive costs money. So your safety is directly dependent on how much money you have, but almost every business overcharges as much as possible. You’ll even be charged for things you didn’t ask for, don’t want and disagree with. Your entire life will be spent fighting for survival against everyone you have to pay. This is a formula for perpetual stress. The solution isn’t to read more motivational books. Life isn’t stressful because you’re weak. It’s because the economy is designed to keep you trapped in perpetual danger.
6: Mental health issues
The human brain can only take so much stress before it cracks. Anyone living in permanent anxiety will experience mental health issues eventually. The more traumatic your childhood is, the quicker you’ll succumb to all the internal and external consequences of poverty, and the poorer you are, the more damaging your childhood will be.
Seeing a cheap mental health expert for one hour costs more than a minimum wage employee makes in an entire day, and that money is already earmarked for food, rent, utilities, transportation, repairs and government fees. So the people most at risk for mental health problems are least able to afford it.
If you become too mentally broken to work, then you’ll have to live on the streets and beg for food. The size of America’s mentally ill homeless population isn’t a regrettable byproduct of an otherwise great system. The system is designed to create that problem by keeping help as far out of reach as possible and then funneling anyone who can’t function without it onto the streets to beg, steal and die.
7: Drug abuse
It’s also not an accidental byproduct of an otherwise great system, that at least 87% of Americans have drunk alcohol, 10% have smoked marijuana, 16% have smoked cigarettes, and 13% are on antidepressants. The system is designed to make earning more money, and being able to afford a better life, as hard as possible. For the least academically inclined, it’s virtually impossible.
Paying high prices to consume poison so you can feel better in the moment is irresponsible because it limits your immediate potential and kills you prematurely. But if you know you’re going to earn slave wages for the rest of your life, and you’ll never be able to afford your dreams anyway, the cost/benefit analysis of ending your miserable existence in a blaze of euphoria starts to add up. America doesn’t have a drug abuse epidemic because so many people are weak. It’s a proportional response to how stressful and hopeless life is in a predatory capitalist economy.
8: Domestic violence
Financial problems are one of the most common causes of divorce, but worrying and fighting about money is a long, painful process. Normal people are anxious and angry because the economy turns life into a grueling, unrewarding rat race. It’s only a matter of time before that frustration comes out somewhere, and the people you’re most likely to take it out on are the ones you see most, which are the people you live with.
You’d think the divorce rate would be higher when everyone is constantly worrying about bankruptcy, compromising on spending, working beyond their physical and mental endurance, suffering from suburban sensory deprivation, and wrestling with the constant source of unfulfillment that comes from not being able to afford your dreams. Actually, the divorce rate would be higher, but poverty often traps dysfunctional couples together because they can’t afford to live on their own.
9: Violent crime
America’s violent crime stats are directly proportional to the stress and desperation created by the false scarcity of food, housing, and wages. African-American ghettos don’t have third-world-level violent crime rates and are prone to riots because African-Americans are genetically predisposed to act like wild, desperate animals. Their problem is they live in a third world economy surrounded by first world neighborhoods they can’t afford to escape to.
Predatory capitalism traps them in an environment in which there are more people competing for resources than there are to go around. When everyone has to fight to survive, it becomes responsible to learn how to fight, and your best chance of succeeding is to join a group of fighters. That’s life for anyone who lives in a ghetto, regardless of their skin color.
There isn’t a secret conspiracy among white Americans to oppress African Americans. The reason ghettos and violent crime epidemics exist anywhere in the world is because business owners are oppressing everyone while the poor are too busy hating and fighting each other to address the real cause of their problems.
10: Mainstream ignorance
No matter what country you live in, you’re surrounded by idiots. You know this. They stress you out every day at work, and at night you see them on the news fighting tooth and nail to destroy everything good in your country. If you’re not grabbing your head and screaming, “Why is everyone so stupid!?” then you’re not paying attention.
Why do you have to be surrounded by idiots? Poverty. That’s why. We could have already built the ultimate, free, global online school that could provide unrestricted access to all the world’s knowledge and skills. The internet is slowly providing free online education, but since everything is as expensive as possible, and there’s no profit in charity, humanity can’t afford to create the ultimate educational tool.
Even in affluent America, students can’t afford to attend universities because predatory capitalism dictates the more your customer needs your product, the more you should charge. Universities are copying the housing and healthcare industries and taking this philosophy farther than the market can bear. They’re charging students beyond their means, which is creating an education bubble, which is making college so expensive the cost/benefit analysis of enrolling doesn’t necessarily add up anymore. Predatory capitalism has created a system where it doesn’t pay to get a college education. This is putting a glass ceiling on the intelligence level of the entire world.
Going to school isn’t the only way to learn about the world though. There are media companies in every city producing information for mass consumption, but they can’t give content away for free without selling advertisements, which is a form of misinformation.
The price media outlets can charge advertisers is directly proportional to the size of their audience. In order to attract the widest audience possible, businesses have to deliver the most popular content. Thanks to the oppressive nature of the economy, most people are uneducated, scared, stressed-out slaves with cabin fever, who are longing for escape. This sets them up to want to consume media that satisfies their base instinctual desires for excitement, hope, love, popularity, wealth, and power.
Even news agencies, which supposedly follow a code of integrity, drown out useful information with content that’s more entertaining than educational. The six most successful media companies have bought out most of the world’s independent news agencies and syndicated the same distracting brain candy to every city.
Since the most sociopathic business practices make the most money, it was only a matter of time before a sociopath built a global news organization that intentionally sells lies, fear, and blame to gullible consumers. The more intellectually vulnerable people are misled, the dumber they act and the more they oppose useful reform, which creates a vicious cycle for perpetuating ignorance.
The reason you’re surrounded by idiots is because 90% of the world population are victims of economic oppression. I doubt there’s secret conspiracy to dumb down the population to make them easier to control. It was just a convenient and inevitable byproduct of every business’s single-minded pursuit of money.
11: Religious extremism
There’s a well-established correlation between poverty and religious belief. The poorer you are, the more likely you are to be uneducated and feel stressed, hopeless, alone, unfulfilled and meaningless. Religion offers a solution to all the problems created by poverty. It promises if you believe a story and follow some rules, you’ll be rewarded after death.
Religion is the perfect consumer product. It costs nothing to produce, and your customers will pay you for years without getting anything in return. They’ll do your advertising for you and defend your brand to the death even in the face of overwhelming proof your product is a sham. If your religion teaches hard work and sacrifice are virtuous, and idleness and self-interest are evil, then your followers will make the perfect employees for you or any business lucky enough to hire them.
Not everyone who believes in religion becomes a terrorist, but there’s a well-documented correlation between poverty and religious extremism. If you want to start a death cult that will kill people and steal their resources for you, believing they’re serving the greater good, then all you need to do is promise them that joining your organization will solve all the problems in their lives created by predatory capitalism. Then, indoctrinate them with time-tested brainwashing techniques to base their identity and self-worth on their status in your pyramid-shaped organization. Finally, criminalize dissent and make it as hard as possible to leave. This is what ISIS and the U.S. military do, and if you copy their model, you can achieve the same success.
12: Corruption and systemic political failure
Corruption was inevitable the moment money was created. Since money is power, those with the most money have the most power regardless of who sits on the throne of government. Business owners don’t need to sit on the throne themselves or rely on the judgment of others to pass laws that allow them to exploit their workers and customers to death. Modern democracy has created a streamlined path to corruption. Since politicians have to accept donations to fund their election campaigns, they’re beholden to their investors. When the majority of politician’s careers are funded by the same businesses, lone-wolf politicians can’t stand up to all the corporate representatives. That’s why you can’t expect to see hope and change from young, charismatic politicians: because the investors they represent value profits more than human life.
13: Perpetual war
Once you have enough representatives to control how a nation’s wealth is used, you can use its tax revenue to bribe foreign politicians into letting you pillage their resources. If they won’t play ball, you can depose them with military force, guaranteeing you won’t have to compete for global market share with worker-friendly politicians or foreign businesses.
Predatory capitalism also guarantees perpetual war simply because war is profitable. The military-industrial complex needs taxpayers to buy its weapons in order to remain profitable. So it behooves them to invest in campaign financing so they can lobby politicians to stay in perpetual war.
Even without a secret conspiracy by corporations to manipulate militaries into fighting for them, our economic system is still a recipe for conflict. As a general truth, survival requires resources, and when resources are scarce in a local community, they become as valuable as life itself, and people will kill their neighbors to keep what they’ve got and take from the weak. When a country’s resources become scarce, it will act the same way, and the goal of predatory capitalism is to consume resources as fast as possible.
Since the world’s wealth is being funneled to a few families instead of being distributed to everyone, the nations with the least infrastructure are left in abject poverty and thus chaos, which creates a power vacuum to be filled by the strongest local warlord, which is convenient for big corporations, because warlords prevent small businesses from growing into global competitors, and warlords are happy to sell their nation’s resources to foreign companies for pennies on the dollar.
14: Environmental apocalypse
As apocalyptic as all these problems are, the worst consequence of predatory capitalism is the destruction of the very eco-system keeping the entire human species alive. In order for companies to make profits, they need to make as many products as quickly as possible, which means they need to consume raw resources as quickly, and spend as little money on health and safety, as possible. It would be an understatement to call this a recipe for environmental destruction. Predatory capitalism makes pollution a moral imperative, which is why big businesses are so desperate to convince the population global warming is a hoax. Saving the planet would negatively affect their profit margin.
The solution to this problem isn’t to guilt-trip consumers into buying eco-friendly products. That’s like forcing people to become cannibals and then convincing them to fight cannibalism by only eating each other’s legs. The problem isn’t the victim. The problem is predatory capitalism’s addiction to economic growth. That’s the herd of bears coming to eat you and your tribe. Solve that problem or you’re effectively committing suicide while being complicit in genocide.
I’m less interested in convincing you to accept my theories than I am in inspiring you to do your own research and come up with your own. If you want to know my theory, the simplest solution is to require governments to spend tax revenue on feeding and sheltering all of its citizens before they’re allowed to spend taxes on anything else. This will solve people’s immediate problems, give them the freedom not to have to work/consume, and eliminate the leverage businesses use to exploit everyone at every corner. If governments won’t do that, citizens need to organize to create private sustainable communities to shelter themselves from poverty.
If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:
Predatory Capitalism Creates Poverty
Socialism and Communism
The Life of the Rich
The Life of the Poor
Oppression in the Workplace
Success and Retirement
The Housing Market
Healthcare in America
The Stock Market
Fixing the Economy
My Tweets About Economics