As the Olympics perform their core task of worsening the disease of nationalism, one might ask: What medal does the United States of America win when it comes to what really matters — the empirical quality of life inside this, human history’s richest, most powerful, most capitalist society? Is it true, as our overclass has long claimed and as the Olympics reinforce, that a collectively wealthy nirvana of minimally restrained corporate money-making also yields the best of all possible social worlds? Does the flagship of big business society really prove the truth of Adam Smith’s famous claim that
by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, [the capitalist] intends only his [or her] own gain, and he [or she] is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was not part of it. By pursuing his [or her] own interest he [or she]… promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it.
For those actually willing to investigate and answer this question, the evidence is clear: Check out Mercer Consultants’ 2008 quality of life and personal safety survey results.
Mercer, which describes itself as “a global leader for trusted HR and related financial advice, products and services” that “has more than 18,000 employees serving clients in over 180 cities and 40 countries and territories worldwide,” finds that the top US city in its quality-of-life index is:
Meanwhile, even more astounding (from the perspective of ideology, rather than street knowledge) is this:
Meanwhile, Business Week reports on the steady advance of the obesity/Type II diabetes epidemic in the USA:
Despite the many public efforts to promote physical activity and good nutrition in recent years, despite the constant warnings about the obesity crisis, Americans just keep getting fatter. According to an annual state-by-state look at the problem, adult obesity rates increased in 37 states in the past year, and only the District of Columbia saw a decrease—down a mere 0.1%. More than 25% of adults are now obese in 28 states, up from 19 states last year.
In 1991 no state had an obesity rate above 20%. Today more than 20% of adults are obese in every state except Colorado, where the number stands at 18.4%, according to the survey by two nonprofits, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America’s Health. Mississippi, the worst performer of all 51 on the list (which includes the District of Columbia), stands at 31.7%. Similarly disturbing increases were found in the percentage of adults with Type 2 diabetes, a weight-related disease. The survey found higher incidence of diabetes in 26 states. Four states are above 10%.
Overall, adult obesity rates have doubled since 1980, from 15% to 30%, and two-thirds of U.S. adults are now considered overweight or obese. The national rate for diabetes in adults has grown from 5.2% in 1980 to more than 8% now, and one in three Americans has hypertension—often weight-related. The report estimates that the direct health-care costs of obesity exceed $61 billion annually.
Of course, the massively obvious and overwhelming primary cause of all this disaster — corporate capitalism and its marketing juggernaut — cannot be mentioned. Hence, Business Week conveys the confounded confusion of the worried “experts”:
The U.S. “is not treating the obesity crisis with the seriousness it deserves,” said Jeff Levi, executive director of Trust for America’s Health at a press conference. He complained that while obesity rates keep climbing, federal funding for programs to address the problem has been steadily reduced over the last several years. “The only thing going down is the money spent to prevent this epidemic.”
And all this is much worse when you remember that the distribution of wealth and power in the United States is also extremely pyramid-shaped. Those Mercer rankings are by and for the pampered business consultants Mercer sends around the globe. Imagine how much less happy and safe life is for the ordinary mortals seeking, rather than downsizing, jobs in the cities Mercer ranks!
And, as Business Week reports, like all other major diseases, obesity/Type II diabetes is tightly and inversely correlated with individuals’ social class situations. To wit:
7 of the 10 [US] states with the highest obesity rates [are] also in the top 10 for poverty rates.
Reality could hardly be simpler: Unrestrained corporate capitalism leads to market totalitarianism, a social order in which the priorities of the investing class invade and increasingly dominate all three spheres of modern life — work/economy, politics, and personal life/civil society.
The plain logical fact is that letting corporate investors select our macro-options for us means that we were destined to live as we now do in the United States, where cars, television, and highly processed foods and products literally dictate the ways we move, think and feel. It’s all as bad for our health and happiness as it is profitable to the Richistanis among/above us.
The Emperor has no clothes, and Adam Smith is deader than a doornail. So, crank up the band and let our ruling class mount the stand and wave as they accept the medal they deserve for the kind of competition they’ve run… it’s the dog-shit medal.