rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Does capitalism save lives?

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

I was watching CNBC and happened to see this panel about how the number of Americans killed by natural disasters has declined over time. It was also noted that, in early 2010, fewer people died in Chile's earthquake than in Haiti's earthquake.

The discussion quite reasonably outlined how improvements in emergency preparedness, building codes, and infrastructure help to protect people from natural disasters. But two minutes into the segment, anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera declared, "The lesson is that capitalism actually saves lives."

Really? Until then, it sounded like government regulation and public infrastructure save lives. It's also true that economic development saves lives, and capitalism is one potential route to economic development. But that does not mean that capitalism, in and of itself, saves lives.
Haiti is a capitalist economy. That has been ensured by plenty of "structural adjustment" from international financial institutions. Yet it remains woefully underdeveloped.

I also checked out the op-ed that inspired the panel. It notes that the average annual U.S. death toll from disasters was significantly lower in 1980-2009 than in 1940-1979, and would have been even lower except for Hurricane Katrina. However, Katrina was so deadly not due to a lack of capitalism on the Gulf Coast, but due to under-investment in critical public infrastructure.

The real story is that well-regulated economic development with investment in public infrastructure saves lives. Put that on a bumper sticker!

This article was first posted on The Progressive Economics Forum.

Thank you for choosing rabble.ca as an independent media source. We're a reader-supported site -- visited by over 315,000 unique visitors during the election campaign! But we need money to grow. Support us as a paying member (click here) or in making a one-off donation (click here).

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.