Capitalism means free to starve

Chris Kok

Last week Matt White explained the “freedom” of capitalism through people’s rights to choose what healthcare they receive and provide. People have the freedom to choose to go to medical school, to buy inadequate healthcare or none at all.

I’m sure people like Bill Gates enjoy that freedom immensely.

What about those of us who cannot afford a medical education or health care? What about people who have to choose between an operation and starvation? Do these people enjoy that “freedom?”

The same goes for food. People are starving across the world, and yet there is enough food and means of transportation to ensure that everyone is fed. Capitalist economics would claim that these people just didn’t value food enough for them to be fed. The fact is the only thing keeping these people in starvation is the lack of a specific type of paper, which is green in this country.

Another “freedom” provided by capitalism is the ability to choose where you work. But for many people that means a choice of working a horrible job or being evicted. That doesn’t sound like freedom. Actually, it is wage slavery.

Freedom isn’t the only argument put forward in support of capitalism; another one is that markets are natural. There is truth to this; price goes up and quantity reacts. It happens quickly and is very natural in its process.

Is “natural” automatically good? Arsenic is natural. But more to the point, so is weather. Hurricanes are natural, and so are tornadoes. Freezing winds and suffocating high temperatures are as well. Human history can be described as people changing their natural environment in order to improve their chances of survival. We created clothing, housing, air conditioning and heating to protect us from the natural environment.

I am for preserving the natural environment to a great extent, but I am for the absolute destruction of the “natural” economic environment. We are subject to economic tornadoes and economic hurricanes. Northeast Ohio is under an economic drought right now. It is time to change our economic environment.

Perhaps the worst economic drought was the Great Depression. Why did it happen? Did power plants stop generating electricity? Did machines break down? Did plows get stuck in the fields? Did seeds refuse to grow? Did houses burn down? Can this account for the Great Depression?


Then why were there people starving on the streets?

The economic clouds refused to rain and bring green prosperity to the land.

Should we have to rely on the financial markets for our economic health? No. When we have the means to produce what we need in society, money should not determine if those needs are met. If society democratically controlled the economy, we could ensure that all people are fed and housed. We can give everyone healthcare and education. This would mean the freedom from starvation, homelessness and curable diseases.

Of particular importance for students here this would mean freedom from expensive loans. These freedoms are already enjoyed by the rich. It is time for the rest of us to have these freedoms.

Chris Kok is a senior political science major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].