Capitalism. Many of the big food companies this week announced that they had to adjust their economic forecasts lower than what they originally calculated. The reason – the Affordable Healthcare Act. I am truly fed up with corporations bemoaning all of the things they are forced to do by the government to provide a fair and decent way of living for their employees. They also recently attacked the notion of raising the minimum wage. Imagine what would happen to the well-being of every human being if they were paid a decent wage and had basic necessities like healthcare covered. And if you are too much of a capitalist to care about individuals, then imagine what would happen to the well-being of the economy if every human being had more disposable income.
It bears mentioning two other complications in this argument. First, why does healthcare need to be so expensive in the first place? Second, and more germane to this blog, the general working public would not have to eat cheap, unhealthy food if they could afford better alternatives. It’s a vicious cycle. Don’t pay people good wages. They are then forced to find cheaper and cheaper ways to live including what they eat. So they will inevitably pick the value meal at a fast food chain over fresh, natural foods that cost more. And why is processed/manufactured food not more expensive than simple produce coming out of the ground? You have f*cked-up government subsidies to thank for that illogicality. Besides, laborers are already working longer hours with more responsibilities, so they don’t really have time to cook with healthier ingredients anyway! And then they need healthcare because they are getting sicker from the unhealthy food they eat. The medical industry profits the sicker people are, while insurance companies profit the healthier they are!
I think it all points to the conclusion that we value money in a very narrow way. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised; capitalism only concerns itself with profit, right? But I am hoping for a more holistic approach – one that keeps the health and well-being of both humankind and the planet in mind. And they don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Sure, raising the minimum wage will increase labor expenses but it doesn’t have to hurt profit necessarily. Again, what do people do with more money in their pockets? If their basic needs are taken care of, they will eventually spend it. More people spending more money? Sounds like a pretty good formula for a strong economy to me! Remember what a vibrant middle class can do! Create more markets for more products and services, revitalizing more companies and causing them to take on more employees to keep up with the demand and growth. In other words, more jobs! Indeed, this rampant stinginess on the part of corporations has created a stranglehold on the economy. Only a few profit (say, the 1%) while the rest live in scarcity (say, the 99%). What would it take for the money-hoarding 1% to loosen their purse strings to get the economic faucet flowing again? When will they realize that it would actually work in their best interest to have a more broad-based spending population?