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Friday, November 30, 2007


Capitalism in a nutshell salt shaker

In today's news, public health advocates are calling for stricter regulation of salt content in food, while the food industry argues against it. Whether this particular call for regulation is correct or not isn't the issue; let's just assume it is, and understand what that tells us about the nature of capitalism and democracy. On the one hand, the interests of the vast majority of the people of the country. On the other, the financial interests of corporations. We're told that excessive salt consumption may be responsible for 100,000 deaths a year, along with increased health care costs. But that's not the food industry's problem, it's society's problem. The food industry has no interest in decreasing its profits in order to decrease society's health care costs. And even if the industry had enlightened executives who did care, under the corporate-influenced legal system we have in place, they couldn't do anything about it, because they have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders to maximize profits, so if they were to fail to argue against regulations which might decrease those profits, they would be opening themselves up to a class-action lawsuit by their shareholders.

Under socialism, the only relevant discussion would be that of the scientists, public health personnel, and so on. There could be a financial component to the discussion, but it would be about the financial impact on the entire society, taking all considerations into account - the production and sale of food and the health and health care costs of the food's consumers. And a rational decision can be made, as opposed to a decision made by those with the most money buying off politicians or running ads to scare the public.

Socialism is the only system where real democracy is possible.

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