Apr 1, 2013

Profit Motive: Enemy Of Liberty

The profit motive has been restrictive of human freedom, as more and more of day-to-day activity for most of the global population has been determined or affected by profit motive the less choices are made available to the individual. The "free" enterprise and the corporate paradigm seeks out the the most profitable activity available regardless of outcome and ill effects. Losses that can't be entered into ledgers are referred to as externalities, so if there's a buck to be made to pollute, exploit individuals, corrupt decisions, or prostitute morality-- a buck will be made. If a problem can be solved wholly with less profit or continuing  the problem at a lower grade but with sizable return on an investment; the results will most certainly be whatever is the most profitable. The range decisions that can be made available to the individual shrinks with the possibility of the choices having a profit. If there is no profit in an individual's choice, that choice unsurprisingly becomes unavailable. For example, there will always be more profit in scarcity rather than abundance, so in the case of the food supply there is enough arable land in the U.S. alone to feed the world several times over but due to the profit motive it will always more profitable to keep starving a certain segment of the world's population. If the market decides between scarcity or abundance, the choice will always be scarcity for with abundance comes out goes the profit.

Potable water is the most abundant and necessary resource on the planet (with possible breathable air being the only thing of greater abundance). So with it being so abundant there certainly couldn't be a profit motive to potable water, right? Except again and again throughout the world private companies like Bechtel attempt to corner the market on resources create scarcity. Cochabamba is the 3rd largest city of Bolivia, and through under handed dealings of the IMF and World Bank the Bolivian government was forced to privatized their water systems as a condition of continued financing of their national debt. Bechtel, as the primary benefactor of the previous Bolivian development projects, was in the envious position to own the water company and set the prices for water that the people of Cochabamba needed to live. If the profit motive is really the best means to the most efficient process of bringing services and goods to market, why would the cost quadruple over night for Cochabamba's residents when Bechtel entered the market? It's because profit motive is the means to find more profit not efficiency nor solutions. But "free" marketeers (or more aptly named privateers) could never acknowledge failings in the unconditional love of higher rates of return.

The profit motive detrimentally even when in the guise of providing abundance, genetically modified organisms  (GMO) from the labs are pest repellent and more tolerant of adverse growing environments, certainly the more food grown in more places can't be bad? And so the agra-businesses reinvest their profits to provide higher yielding seeds, the manufactured scarcity comes from the fact the seeds have been neutered and do not yield next season's crop. Even if they did have cross pollination of GMO crops and non-patented natural crops, the manufacturers of the GMO seeds go after farmers for intellectual property infringement because they hold the patents on the living flora they created in a lab!

But you say to yourself that you are not a farmer, and the price of your water isn't exponentially rising in price (yet), all of these happy and profitable corporations are so eager to provide me with cheap disposable products, and what does it all have to do with liberty? With the array of solutions to any problem have is cleaved to let the only the profitable solutions remain, it limits the available choices to the individual. It is akin to telling a child you can have milk out of the red sippy cup or the blue sippy cup, while creating an illusion of "free" choice and individual liberty when in fact the parent makes the decision that the child will be drinking the milk. Within the profit scheme, we provided all the choices that are the most profitable, even if the best choice for us sustainable but not profitable enough. The "free" marketeers (privateers) with claims that mixed economy where both government and for profit enterprise compete in supplying goods and services is some how unfair, that the only citizen/customer "free" choice should be between the red sippy cup and the blue sippy cup that profits them.

The culling of the choices to only those that are for profit, isn't the most nefarious aspect of the profit motive. The most nefarious part of the profit motive is that instead bringing solutions to preexisting problems it's the creation of new problems with ready-to-purchase solutions. Healthcare in America is an animal that was created by committee, one member says it should have horns, another one says it should have wings, and yet another says it should swim-- the end results an abomination that no one person would ever have intentionally created. Any attempt to simplify it, and possibly follow our neighbors to the North with straight forward single payer for-profit healthcare will be lambasted for seeking out a solution that smacks of Socialism (and thereby cuts the profit taking middlemen). As if getting nickeled-and-dimed as one comes to the less healthy side of a lifetime of living is as American as Mom, apple pie, and baseball. Richard Stengal after writing the Time article "The Cost of Care" with conclusions that include decreasing Medicare age of eligibility to save money, since the operating expenses of Medicare is so much lower than that of the private market. The only reason this choice is unavailable to solve America's problem is that the fanatical privateers can't see past the possibility of anything but the profitable solution. So liberty is denied to the citizen that wants to chose the lower costing and less profitable solution. All of the obfuscation that prevents the most freedom to America in regards is the decisions made by committee (all committee members are profit seekers and not solution seekers) but it is a stretch on my part to claim that the healthcare is problem that was created by the profit motive.

For profit prisons and campaign contributions to legislators to propose mandatory minimums are exactly a problem created whole clothe for profit. Non-violent drug criminals choke our prison system, and are carted off to the correctional facilities operated at a profit by the likes of Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO group that have no interest in rehabilitation since recidivism is counter-profitable to having their prisons filled. Beginning in the late 70's and early 80's private prisons to turn a profit on the burgeoning war on drugs. But the Federal government's decision to tough on recreational drug use wasn't what allowed for-profit prisons, but the Powell Memorandum that called corporate America to arms in the political debate, along with U.S. Supreme court decisions First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti and Buckley v. Valeo expanding corporate power and influence over elections. This encroachment on human liberty by non-corporeal legal  entities, both blots out choices for the individual person (the breathing type of person not the LLC type) when voting but waters down the humanity that makes up the government initially intended to be of, for, and by the people. And if you are to believe I exaggerate the amoral nature and corrupting affects that the profit motive has then please consider this: two Pennsylvania judges Judge Mark Ciavarella and Judge Michael Conahan were convicted (February 9th, 2009) of defrauding the people of honest services due to the $2.6 million that was provided to the judges by the for-profit juvenile correction center they, as juvenile court judges, were sentencing minor crimes (such as defamation of school principal on a MySpace page and shoplifting) for extraordinary long prison sentences.

So whether the profit motive corrupts the water we drink, food we drink, or air we breath, it will remain an enemy to our life. As long as it is profitable to keep a significant portion of our population in jail, it will remain an enemy to our liberty. As long as it continues to predicate the addiction of consumable goods and false hope that is hyper-materialism, the profit motive will remain an enemy of our pursuit of happiness.