What Capitalism Truly Costs

From the point of the view of the public, we do not see all of the issues that come along with getting a product for a cheap price. We are actually extremely excited about a “bargain” or “steal” for a good deal. When in reality, it is a steal. It is stealing from not only the people involved in the labor used to make the product that you bought, but also from the environment in general. The major culprit to this negative feedback loop affecting the Earth is capitalism. Humans in this world are so concerned with the prices of everything and saving the money they get rather than putting it back into the economy or truly paying for the products that they purchase. There is no such thing as a good deal, people are just suffering the consequences in other places. People need to care about the externalized costs associated with production because of the effects that they have on people and the environment.

Moreover, one reason that people need to care about the externalized costs of their products is because of the effect that they can have on people in other areas. For example, in this reading from class, there was a story about how a woman named Rosa Moreno lost both of her hands while she was on the job and the machine used to cut metal fell on top of both of her hands and no one could get it off. Then, to make her situation even worse, the corporation offered her such a small amount of money that she would not be able to provide for her family. It is because of the world that we currently live in that they were so consumed with the success of themselves and the profit that they were making to even provide this woman with the money they she deserved after the accident that was most definitely not her fault. Furthermore, as mentioned in this article from class, someone was contemplating all of the externalized costs of a single radio and finally reached how much people are affected. There are so many parts to the production of technology and the people working with the machines were faced with the costs of increased rates of cancer and asthma as well as the loss of clean air in the area where they both live and work. These costs affect the whole lives of these people just for us to have cheap radios.

Another point that is worth noting is why people should care about these costs. There is now information about it out now and people are beginning to see the facts of these costs; however, they also need to know why it not only affects those people directly from the costs but also themselves in the long run. This company put out an article that discusses how they calculate the true costs of the foods they sell and they also have tabs of information that show how by doing this they are helping so many people across the globe. What they are doing is quite the opposite from the average citizen. This society is so consumed with having the best and the newest item that people do not seem to realize the effect that getting rid of technology and appliances before you need has on the environment. The image above is from a landfill full of cars that people have gotten rid of. If today’s society was not so concerned with the newest item then these landfills would not fill up nearly as fast. The negative effects of electronic waste are so awful and need to be slowed down if we want to be able to preserve precious land like parks and national forests. Just because people in certain areas and of certain socioeconomic status have the privilege of buying the newest phone when it comes out or that they can get the best new car when the model comes out does not mean that this is the best thing for the environment and people need to realize that when they make the choices that they do.

Another factor for people to consider is how these externalized costs of production are affecting the surrounding environment. The food production industry is one of the largest and also one of the most harmful and wasteful. This article about the true costs of food discusses all of the issues associated with the food production industry and gives people the facts on how our food is actually more expensive than it is being sold for in the local supermarkets. She pointed out that $20 million goes to subsidies for this industry and additional tax money is needed because of the harsh effects it leaves. This production causes the need for cleaning polluted drinking water, dead zones in the oceans and infertile soil as just the top three issues along with other general mess and disrupted land.

Finally, the effects that externalized costs of production have on both the people that work in the area of production and the environment of not only the surrounding area but in general are finally getting out to the public. It is a small step in a good direction but for people to move from just knowing that there is an issue to doing something about it will take some more education and hopefully just a little bit of time. As a society, we all need to care about the effect on the Earth because we all live here. There is no magical divide for some people to not have to deal with the issues of the environment and once everyone starts to see that then they might make some small changes to their lifestyles.

 

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