Sunday, 10 October 2010

Capitalism: Zero Value

"Destroy all dreamers with debt and depression" (A Silver Mt. Zion)

Capitalism is the sanctification of greed, the governmental blessing to go forth and whore, steal, cheat, lie, subjugate, litigate, pollute, enslave, abuse; it is the acceptance that the worst of humanity is also the most universal, the most influential on our thinking, the most fun to revel in. Capitalism, whereby goods and services are offered at the price that people are willing to pay, makes no pretence that any object, any service, any person has any innate worth. People and things, the efforts of skilled professionals, works of artistic ("genius"? no; "merit"? not even that) intent, are all cushioned from the consumer by a thick film of bureaucracy that would have you believe in its own necessity.

Contrary to popular belief, however, capitalism is not the only system at work in the UK. The NHS is an example of a government run service that does not operate solely on the principal of profit making (no; it's here to bankrupt every last household in the UK). I didn't really understand this or capitalism itself until I watched the great American healthcare debate unfold last year.

You see, in America, sick people are a burden on the profits of insurance companies, as well on as their families, so the system is designed to make actually claiming on one's health insurance policy as tortuous as possible. They have a system where, if you are a woman and you get pregnant and need maternity leave, your possession of a uterus is considered a "pre-existing condition" and so will not be covered by your policy. Other "pre-existing conditions" that would disqualify you from coverage could be cancer, heart conditions, diabetes, asthma, ulcers; basically if you've had a cold and then get lung cancer five years later, you better hope the guy who (I shit you not) they send to look into your medical history by talking to neighbours, colleagues and family, doesn't find out about it, or you could be paying tens of thousands of dollars for necessary, life saving treatment.

America is, however, a strange, fucked up place. People actually protested on behalf of the insurance companies to preserve their right to make as much profit as they want, accusing Barrack Obama of radical communism, fascism and ruling by dictate, (they don't like them commy nazi monarchists). Why? Because the US is a capitalist country and in a purely capitalist system a service run for the sake of the service itself and not for profit is an anathema. The fact that the US already has "Medicare" for the over 65's, along with several other non-profit government programs, means of course that the US is not a purely capitalist economy, but they weren't to know that; they're cretins. The fact was, to maintain their very way of life, they believed it was necessary to continue to be denied healthcare and to make unworthy cackling leeches richer than God himself for the pleasure.

However, healthcare isn't important here; the whole debate was just a baffling exposition of the manipulative powers of moneyed interests. The reason I brought it to your attention is that it demonstrated to me the essence of capitalism; profit is not just the bottom line, it's the whole dictionary. The goods you buy are valued at zero, the service provided to you is completely worthless; all that matters is that you'll pay x amount for it and it only cost someone y to provide it so they make z as clean profit; if they can go ahead and make the x you pay as clean profit, they will.

I will doubtless revisit capitalism in later articles, but I'll link to an interview from the time of the healthcare debates between a congressman from the left, Anthony Weiner, and host and former congressman from the right, Joe Scarborough. Watch as the penny drops and they realise there is no point in continuing debate as their politics are so fundamentally different they may as well be different species between 3:36 - 5:35 and again at 7:00:

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