Free-Market Capitalism Isn’t Sustainable

Carly Creason
Professor Barajas
Environmental Politics & Policy
February 18, 2017

“Why is it so difficult to convince political institutions, charged with creating environmental policy, to consider the impact free-market capitalism is having on global climate? Why do we continue to think this economic model is sustainable?”

It’s difficult for any person in power or in politics to criticize anything about capitalism because Socialist ideas are connected to communism, which has been demonized since the cold war. Anything to do with the environment is now partisan, and the people currently in the white house sure aren’t going to criticize how free-market capitalism affects our planet. The President is a corrupt billionaire, to say the least, who has promised to deregulate the market. The Secretary of State is the CEO of Exxon, an oil company known for the Valdez oil spill. The head of the EPA doesn’t even believe in climate change, despite the data. And even if they did believe, Trump has banned the EPA and other agencies from releasing data from their research. Not even a democrat is likely to speak on the subject, especially if they need the votes of citizens. Bernie Sanders, a Democratic-Socialist, made it far in the presidential race. This is good because it shows some people are willing to consider his ideas, but the reason he lost is because of said ideas, people believe he was too “far left” to vote for what because of his plans to tax the rich and provide free college education. The narrative accepted by many about socialism is that it means the working people would have to provide for those who do not want to work, and that it’s basically communism, which is the “enemy of America”. Most of Sanders supporters are young. This is because older generations witnessed the cold war, and will never criticize our hyper capitalism. They are not in a position to criticize because the negative effects will not impact them to the degree that it will for my generation or future generations, they push the problems aside for us to solve later. Most young people can see that our current economic model is not sustainable. We are being warned by experts that resources are running out and our environment is being destroyed. While many sadly still see global warming as “liberal propaganda”, the proof is right in front of us when we have snow one day, and sixty degree weather the next. This is because of the negative impact of humans, which is a result of our economic policy. Our capitalism ensures that the only concern in businesses and corporations is making profit. Being environmentally friendly is expensive, and growing food that is safe to eat is expensive, so we have deforestation, pollution, and GMOs. Greed has taken over the United States. Human, animal, and plant communities are destroyed for sake of replacing them with something that can be profitable. Animals are going extinct because they are being hunted for their skin or for the ivory which sells for high prices. All of our natural resources are going to run out eventually, especially our oil supply, despite efforts to come up with new sources for energy. Many believe the narrative that we will never run out of resources, there will always be more oil to drill and more trees to cut, but this is not true. This level of demand and consumption is not sustainable. So, if we do not consider any other economic option than this free-market capitalism, it will be too late, and there will be no Earth left to exploit. The wealthy, who benefit most from this system, will not even be able to buy clean air, clean water, or a place to live with safe temperatures when there are none.