What makes me saddest of all things in the world is this: the vast majority of the time the right thing to do morally is the right thing to do in terms of broad self-interest, and yet we don’t believe that and we do the wrong thing, thinking we must, thinking that we’re making the “hard decisions”.
This spans the spectrum of issues. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about foreign affairs, where the money used on Iraq and Afghanistan could have rebuilt America and made it more prosperous. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about health care, where everyone knew that the right thing to do was single payer or some other form of comprehensive healthcare, which would have reduced bankruptcies massively, saved 6% of GDP and massive numbers of lives. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about the financial crisis, where criminally prosecuting those who engaged in fraud (the entire executive class of virtually ever major financial firm) and nationalizing the major banks, wiping out the shareholders and making the bondholders eat their losses was the right thing to do, and didn’t happen. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about drug policy, where the “war on drugs” has accomplished nothing except destabilizing multiple countries and giving the US the largest prison population proportional to population in the entire world and where legalizing marijuana, soft opiates and coca leaves would save billions of dollars, reduce violence, help stabilize Mexico and would help tax receipts. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about food, where we subsidize the most unhealthy foods possible and engage in practices which have reduced the nutritional content of food by 40% in the last half century. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about environmental pollutants, which have contributed to a massive rise in chronic diseases so great it amounts to an epidemic.
And on, and on, and on.
Now the fact is that there is no free lunch. When you spend money on war, you can’t spend it on education or health or crumbling infrasture or civilian technology. When you allow oligopolies to control the marketplace and buy up politicians, the cost of that is a decreased standard of living. When you refuse to deal effective with externalized health pollution, whether from soda pop or carcinogens, you pay for that with the death of people you care for from heart disease, cancer and other illnesses.
The response is “we have to do this to protect ourselves/to make a profit”.
No, you don’t.