Is 'Business' the only model?

Whatever your political persuasion, it's impossible to deny the host of dangerous problems besetting our world society. Among them are global pollution and despoliation, inequitable availability of adequate health-care, ailing essential social services, a paucity of decent housing for masses of people, and gaping disparities in educational opportunity.

Let's understand that these are the core issues of planet survival and the well being of people - and all life - on earth. It's obvious that these problems must be solved and that their solutions transcend any other considerations. Yet this is exactly what is not happening. On the one hand we have this massive array of lethal problems; on the other, we have only one model for their solution - the capitalist for-profit market system.

This model dictates that if a solution is not "economical," it can't be considered. But, in the context of capitalism, "economical" is the euphemism for profitable. Therefore, if the solution is not profitable - if it does not provide a monetary return on investment - it is deemed nonviable, since profit is accepted unquestioningly as the bulwark of society.

So if we demand that a company immediately stop belching CO2 into the atmosphere, we are told that it would be "uneconomical" - i. e., it would seriously curtail profit - and so it can't be done, and other ineffectual measures, such as "carbon trading," are taken. If we say we must stop mining by mountaintop removal, we are told that this is the most "economical" method. If we say we can no longer clear-cut rain forest, we are told that it is the most "economical" way to provide pastureland for the meat industry supplying world demand. If we say that all people should have affordable state-of-the-art medical care, we are told that this is "economically" unfeasible - which means that the private medical-industrial complex cannot profit sufficiently under those conditions.

The core problem of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is that - through its incorporation of the private sector - a "business" model was imposed upon a social need and the conflict between these two surfaced and created chaos. When we see austerity programs, such as those in Europe, further impoverishing the people, we are told that they are the only "economical" solution - meaning that the banks holding sovereign debt could not otherwise profit. The sub-text to the business model is that "the market," through the specious "law of supply and demand," will meet all needs. Yet, when the crying need for decent housing was met only by the "free market" model, we had the subprime mortgage crisis - the result of financial institutions attempting to maximize profit.

These responses beg the question: Is the "business" for-profit model the only one that can supply solutions to life and planet-threatening problems? This question prompts another we will address in a forthcoming article: Is profit really in the interest of society, as is commonly assumed? The answer to the first question is obviously no: The successful provision of public services is not based on the business return-on-investment model. There is no profit in Medicare, the Social Security annuity, public education, the maintenance of harbors, roadways, and water works, police and fire departments - and so many other non market-driven essentials for a healthy society.

The only profit in these functions is when they are, in whole or in part, outsourced to the private sector - as in the case of privatized prisons, schools, security forces, construction contracts, health insurance, etc. And the only reason the public sector outsources these social necessities is because it does not have the required expertise and personnel in its own employ - though it could, with the added benefit of drastically lowering the unemployment rate.

Clearly, there is a highly effective alternative to the business model. The only reason this alternate model is not applied to major problems is that those profiting from the business model hold political power and will not abide any other solution. And unless we stop them, they will stick to their business model even if it kills us. And them.

Andrew Torre is a resident of Landgrove.


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