The Avoided Costs, Externalities, That Capitalism Hides are Really Robbing from the Future

Yesterday's article at Adbusters 'Can America go "Forward' on Climate"?' agrees with, and even uses the same type of terminology, as many of my raps on climate change. It takes on "the root of our climatic, environmental problem: the exploitative economic paradigm we operate, the political stagnation that goes with that, the social inequalities we are forced to endure, the cult of hyper-consumption that defines American culture – it is this systemic destructiveness that endorses ravenous fossil fuel use in the first place." Concluding that, "Until Obama, and the activists putting pressure on him, stop confounding the symptoms with the disease, there will be a stark limit to how effective, enduring and powerful a revolutionary movement can be." Right on!

Climate change doesn't stand alone in a vacuum, it's part of the matrix of consumer capitalism. As long as people demand stuff beyond their needs capitalists will find a scheme that allows them to externalize the actual costs involved in producing whatever crap the humans are demanding. The externality of CO2 pollution is actually robbery from the future well being of every living thing to secure undeserved 'profit' in the present for a few greedy bastards and is a symptom of the disease of consumption. None of the symptoms can be cured unless the underlying disease is.

CO2 pollution is just one of many externalities that capitalism uses to dodge the full costs of production. The excellent book by Raj Patel titled 'The Value Of Nothing' offers a book full of explanations about how capitalism's reliance on hidden unpaid costs is really the basis of all 'profit'. He cites the unpaid cost of producing a workforce to be exploited in the first place. How around the globe the unpaid work of rearing children, maintaining a household and civic engagement  -often called 'women's work' - would, if accounted for, actually cost the economy nearly $20 trillion, or about half of the world's total GDP.

Another example we can all relate to immediately is what the real cost of a BigMac would be if the actual carbon footprint of the 550 million of them sold in the US every year were included. Things like the cost of cleaning up the 2.66 billion tons of CO2 emitted, the cost of environmental impact on soil and water and the costs of diet related illnesses like obesity, diabetes and heart disease. McDonald's avoids these costs [and a lotta others] that's why a BigMac costs $4 at the drive through instead of $200.

Another is the rare earth metals in every cell phone. Cell phones are often 'free' if you sign up for a long term plan. But are they really 'free'? Of course not. Just like McDonalds, the corporations may not be paying the costs of environmental degradation in Africa where they are mined or the social costs of the wider ecological destruction of what not so long ago was a sustainable agricultural lifestyle among the people there who now toil in the mines, but someone must pay those externalized costs someday.

The externalities that capitalism hides so it can declare a quarterly profit for its shareholders [the only thing that matters to capitalists] is actually robbery from the future. Here's a great 3 minute video about another of the disgusting externalities of capitalism. This video should be seen by the entire world.