Ebola – A Case for Collectivism

The big news this week is that finally, at long last, an actual case of ebola has made its way to America. The “doomsday” scenario of countless movies and books has come to pass and the news media has been gleefully shitting its pants ever since. Their attempts to spread fear and despair have so far not really worked. I don’t see major panic in the streets, riots and looting or even much more than gallows humor. Perhaps its because the CDC has said that they are fairly certain the disease is containable and the chances of a major outbreak in this country are remote. It seems that despite the efficacy with which it kills the infected, actually becoming infected is a bit difficult. You must come into contact with bodily fluids of the infected when they are presenting symptoms.

Ebola’s spread in Africa is due in large part to that continent’s woefully outdated, underfunded and understaffed medical systems, as well as unsanitary funeral practices and crushing poverty. Basic equipment like gloves, masks and clean, never-used needles are in short supply among the medical community there, much less among the family members that often take care of the sick for days before a doctor is ever seen. Many of the vectors for spread in Africa just do not exist in America.

However, with all that said, one could point to the appearance of the disease in America as an argument that collectivism is not only a viable philosophical system but a necessary one. Follow my train of thought. Africa, as a continent, is crushingly poor despite an abundance of natural resources: oil, diamonds, precious metals can all be found and are exploited all over. The money from that explotation tends to either leave the continent through foreign corporations or is funneled through the hands of petty, brutal dictators. It certainly isn’t invested in the medical infrastructure that protects America from the rapid and uncontrollable spread of the ebola virus.

Our world is incredibly connected, not just the Internet but by vast oceans of money being transferred between countries in the global economy. In order to exploit the wealth of the continent of Africa, companies must have access and that means people and goods must be able to travel between the countries in the world if not freely, at least with minimal restrictions. As a result, all sorts of things become shared: culture, food, literature, relationships and yes, diseases. What hurts Africa can eventually hurt America whether through conscious action or inevitable unconscious circumstance.

One of the most frequently criticized forms of “government over-spending” decried by opponents of government spending is foreign aid. Helping poor nations without some return is seen as wasteful especially when we have problems at home (that those self-fame opponents of government spending do not want to spend money on either). However, because Africa is in such a poor state in terms of medical infrastructure, our own country is at risk for a deadly outbreak. Exploiting the continent (which creates the conditions that make such an outbreak more likely) without materially improving the continent’s infrastructure through aid (which would decrease the spread of the disease) means we are in essence increasing the risk that our own greed will bite us in the ass (and then cause said ass to fatally bleed out).

Collectivism, sharing medical resources without regard to potential profit, would in this case reduce the risk of a deadly epidemic. Raising Africa up to our standards would protect us. What seems to be the capitalist plan, i.e. lowering our standards to that of Africa to make more profit, only increases our risk of bleeding out from every orifice. Capitalism has its place. The power over the life and death of the entire human race is not that place.

October 2, 2014 at 3:20 pm | Politics | No comment

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