The overdose crisis is very real and very sad. Even so I couldn’t help being stopped and shocked by how economics was brought into it in a recent New York Times article. Lab-made drugs are cheaper, so dealers pass on the savings to users. Does anyone else see the problem here? Isn’t the real drug capitalism? Or take the Republican acceptance of violence as a legitimate political tool, also highlighted in a recent Times article. Their blind followers think it’s about saving unborn babies but anyone who’s studied politics knows it’s about the money. If you can distract the electorate with an emotional issue you can pick their pocket at the same time. Capitalism smiles on the wealthy. And only on the wealthy.
I’m not naive enough to suppose we can do without the dismal science, but the more I learn of economics, the more dismal the dismal science becomes. I was recently reading about the ranching industry in early American expansion and the amount of power concentrated in those who raise animals for slaughter would make the most bloodthirsty of gods smile. Indeed, Europeans coming to a new country wanted to make it in the image of their lives back home (they were largely successful). Especially those who raised specially bred varieties of sheep, goats, and cattle. Since grazers and browsers require a lot of land, the American west appealed to them. Although big beef and big dairy produce more environmental problems than most big industry does, we let economics make the decisions. And in economics the big and the selfish always win.
A bit of wisdom comes from the musical 1776 where John Dickinson explains in “Cool, Cool, Considerate Men” that the common person will always vote for those who preserve the (near impossibility) of becoming rich, the myth of capitalism. The average person lives each day not worrying that they will be struck by lightning. Those who are often believe it isn’t likely and remain out in a storm. What are the chances of a poor person actually becoming rich? In this economic system? Don’t go outside in a lightning storm. Americans have been taught to retch at the word socialism despite the fact that it works extremely well in most of Europe. Instead we proliferate guns and drugs on the free market model and wonder what could possibly go wrong. Yes, there really is an elephant in the room. And we’re burying far too many people because of it.