The Mental Disease of Late-Stage Capitalism
Joe Brewer
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Since its inception as the major world economic reality a couple of centuries ago, capitalism has been reviled, accused of all social ills, and faced predictions that it was in its death throes. Here we have it again, along with the claim that it causes mental disease. Meanwhile, across those same centuries, life expectancy rose, infant mortality dropped, health improved, billions were lifted from hardscrabble poverty, the availability of cultural capital expanded, and democracy spread. What terrible things. Today, in the U.S., even “poverty” has a different quality than in the past. The Feds seldom even talk about hunger anymore, but about the far more nebulous “food insecurity.” “Unaffordable” housing is largely limited to those major metro centers that are so attractive to intellectual elites who hate the suburbs and secondary cities. People really would rather be home-poor in San Francisco than well-housed in Des Moines. Even so, home ownership increased until the collapse of the housing market, circa 2009. College costs keep rising because families find the payoff higher than the cost. They, further, keep expensive, elite, private schools afloat when they could do just as well, economically, with cheaper state-university degrees. The reduction of working-aged men in the labor force is partly caused by their lack of economic skills, but it’s also a function of the fact that they simply don’t need employment to get by. What previous epoch can compete in ordinary human terms? None.

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