“By nature, man is selfish, which is why socialism will never work. Capitalism better reflects the fundamental characteristics of human nature.”
— a capitalism’s defenders may say. We might all agree though, that in the process of ‘one’ being in an advantaged position over the ‘other’ implies that one of the parties will always get into a position of disadvantage — in a process which has its toll in terms of energy expenditure — always creating a ‘wasteful’ product in relation to such.
In English, the term “waste” as a noun means rubbish, whatever can’t or won’t be used and is only good for the waste bin. The verb “to waste” has more subtle varieties: one meaning is to be profligate, to squander, or make inefficient and uneconomical use of a resource. But to “lay waste” is to devastate, for example, when an army or a barbarian horde lays waste a city. In gangland slang, to waste can also mean to kill: “I pulled out my gun and wasted him.” The theme of “waste” is admirably illustrated by the capitalist system, which does all three.
Capitalism wastes people by organizing them hierarchically and preventing the vast majority of workers from having any say in running the enterprise. It sees employees as nothing but a cost factor. The proof? As soon as a mass lay-off is announced, the corporation’s stock goes up. Most people have little or no control over their career development and, particularly in times of crisis, can find themselves redundant through no fault of their own.
Capitalism wastes social cohesion. A capitalist society is one that naturally creates huge inequalities, and even in the richest countries, millions are left on the margins or excluded.
The European Union officially acknowledges the presence of 92 million poor people;
While in the United States, the CEO of a large corporation is routinely paid at least 350 times as much as his or her average employee. The wealth of the top one percent of Americans used to be 8 % of the total — today, it is three times that.
The world’s 80.000-plus transnational corporations are experts in tax avoidance, making full use of transfer pricing and tax havens to escape contributing their fair share to the social and public services of the countries where they make their profits. As everyone knows by now, bankers and traders continue to receive huge bonuses despite the devastation their casino-capitalist methods have wreaked on their fellow citizens.
The increase in inequalities and the breakdown of social cohesion are closely correlated with phenomena as different as rates of alcohol and drug addiction, physical and mental illness or obesity; crime, homicides, delinquency and prison populations; premature pregnancies, infant mortality, and life expectancy — the costs are high for everyone, even the rich.
Capitalism wastes resources through such well-known techniques as “planned obsolescence” and deliberate introduction of minor innovations made desirable and “cool” through mass advertising. Huge percentages of energy are wasted before doing any work at all, and in many countries, huge quantities of food are spoiled in storage, processing, and distribution before reaching any consumer.
Capitalism even wastes money. In the United States, less than 20% of all investment is directed to the actual production of goods and services, whereas more than 80% is invested directly in financial products. Many of these products are “collateralized debt obligations” or other derivatives with little or no social value. Currency trades alone absorb $6 trillion a day.