Capitalism, the disease that breeds social injustice

Published: October 16, 2016
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A capitalist system is rigged in the favour of the rich and the lives of people keep become harder and harder as you go down the economic ladder. PHOTO: REUTERS

A while back, a story went viral on the internet about a young girl, who worked as a house maid. Long story cut short, she asked her employer for an advance because her mother was extremely ill, but her employer refused.

A few hours later, the very same employer showed the house maid the brand new lipstick she had just bought – a MAC product worth more than her salary. The house maid was naturally furious and disappointed:

What happened then? Did the house maid’s mother survive?

I doubt it. She didn’t have enough money for the treatment and her employer had refused to give her an advance.

Did the house maid find another job?

I hope so.

And the employer? Well, she must have bought her daughter a new lipstick in a couple of hours.

So who do we blame for what happened?

Here’s another story.

A young man from an upper middle class family rushes to the hospital because his dad had a heart attack. The pharmacies are on a strike thus he has no choice but to go to the only pharmacy that is open, which is quite far from the hospital. However, he manages to reach and purchase medicines worth Rs40,000.

He puts his hand in his pocket to take out the money, only to realise that he forgot his wallet (with all his money and the ATM card) at the office because he left in such a hurry. He begs the shopkeeper to let him take the medicines and he promises to return after a while to pay. But the shopkeeper tells him that his sahib will sack him if he does that. The young man begs the shopkeeper to call the sahib and make him talk to him. But the sahib is sleeping. The drive to the pharmacy took 40 minutes and this argument and pleading alone took another 30 minutes.

What happened then?

His father died. The son must have died too, emotionally if not physically.

The shop keeper still has his job. The sahib is still sleeping.

Who do we blame now?

These two stories remind me of a third.

A labourer works at a minimum wage in a factory. His daughter fell and broke a few bones and he needs money for her treatment. The contractor that hired the labourer has money (I know this because he recently donated Rs20 lac to a cancer hospital and had his pictures published in the newspapers).

It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out what happened when the labourer approached the contractor for some money. He refused, of course, thinking the labourer was lying just like everyone else.

How easy would’ve things been had the labourers daughter had cancer instead of broken bones?

So what happened?

The daughter is in pain, she has broken bones. The labourer is helpless. The contractor is off for Umrah.

Now who do we blame?

The employer in the first story?

Sahib or the shopkeeper in the second?

Contractor in the third?

The maid and the labourer for being born poor?

The young man for forgetting his wallet?

No. We blame the force behind the creation of such circumstances. We blame the system that allows the creation of such stories. We blame the one and only driving force that leads to injustice and creates a class system in the society.

We blame Capitalism.

Dr Adib Rizvi once said,

“We cannot let them die, just because they cannot afford to live.”

And guess what a capitalist society is based on? It’s based on the statement,

“You cannot afford to live, please die.”

Capitalism produces disparity and inequality – a class system that furthers intolerance, insensitivity, conflicts and wars around us. Capitalism is a redundant system as it is not capable of giving anything to the vast majority of human beings on this planet.

According to a study conducted by OXFAM International, the annual income of the 100 richest people can end poverty four times over.

What good is a system that is so vulnerable to abuse? Wealth in the hands of a few gives them the power to run this world as they please, and play with all other human beings, by treating them like puppets. A capitalist system is rigged in the favour of the rich, while the lives of people becomes harder as you go down the economic ladder.

A system of governance should be such where all human beings are considered equal and there is an equitable distribution of wealth and resources. In other words, class system should be banished. Having said that, the state should provide its citizens with education, healthcare facilities, housing and basic needs – where life is not spent in the struggle to just assure economical stability.

In such a state, people will focus on excellence. People will not be in a rat race just to earn a place in society, as they will be out of the economic shackle – a system that leads to a better world.

Seep Akhtar

Seep Akhtar

The author is a fourth year MBBS student. She is a social activist. She runs volunteer programs at SIUT and INDUS hospital and is an Ex Pildat Youth parliamentarian. She tweets @SeepAkhtar twitter.com/SeepAkhtar

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Shakir Lakhani

    It’s obvious that incident of the maid happened in Bangladesh (not Pakistan), because she tweeted that her salary was not increased even by 100 tk (Tk-taka-is the currency of that country). Secondly, capitalism is the system in most countries, because socialism/communism was tried and failed in China & the erstwhile Soviet Union. The system in vogue in Sweden and other Western countries is good, because it comprises of a mixture of socialism & capitalism. To have such a system in undeveloped countries like India, Pakistan & Bangladesh would require excessive taxation, which will be very unpopular, if enforced.Recommend

  • Milind A

    Like every other ‘ism’ capitalism too has its plusses & minuses. Just because Pakistan’s feudals / rich lack values & empathy doesn’t mean capitalism is bad..We rarely hear about such indifference or lack of empathy from India’s newly created (urban) rich, most of who are educated and have made it big through effort and talent and are steeped in (middle-class/religious) values… We do hear similar stories from some of our politicos, however this then grabs attention from the press and human rights and labor leaders. ..Recommend

  • Davy Jones

    Maybe people should learn economics before making an opinion on which kind of market system has elevated the maximum people leaving in poverty.Recommend

  • Pnauman Elvy

    Its an ugly ugly world out there….the baddies are dressed up real nice…lots of spivs ….
    http://www.apicareonline.com/vexatious-complaints-and-sham-peer-review-medicine-in-the-times-of-capitalism/Recommend

  • Critical

    I guess the author should read the book “Animal Farm” as it will give a good idea about how anti-capitalism would eventually come down too……

    Name one country which has prospered over a long time following Socialism or communism?Recommend

  • Waleed

    Ironic she uses social media platforms which are created by raw American capitalism, she posts a blog on a website which is privately owned free media away from gov influence, she probably typed the blog on an American laptop and uses an iphone, a hallmark of capitalism. Clearly she doesn’t understand the simple fact that capitalism rewards innovation and creates wealth. It’s the sole reason the USA is the superpower of the world.
    Yes raw capitalism creates inequality and I agree that feudals & the elite in Pak need a good spanking and monopolies need to be broken but those are governance and societal issues, not about the freedom to do business. Look at society, they spend more effort and money on the wedding than the actual marriage, the society is the one who promotes upper & lower castes, society creates status symbols which are consumed by everyone from the top to bottom. Do not blame the ill minds of society on capitalism.
    Such a narrow sighted blog viewing the world in black and white. The MBBS student probably read one Karl Marx book and then thought it would be good to attack capitalism despite 92% of the work force in Pakistan is employed by the private sector. I’ve submitted much more stimulating blogs on here about economics but sadly the Tribune blogs editor doesn’t have the intellectual capacity to understand my in-dept analyses because he/she allow such lame blogs like this to be posted.Recommend

  • Imran

    Capitalism isn’t as bad as u expressed by referring these drama stories, and you probably written this post sitting in air-conditioned room and reading something about Karl Marx.Capitalism failed everywhere in the world, its like utopia. China and Soviet Union accepted this fact after much struggle. Pakistan’s system is perfect as it out birth due to PPP and PMLN’s opposite policies in last 30 years, it’s heavily taxed system to maximize wealth balance.Recommend

  • Irfan

    According to capitalism (Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nation, Kaynes etc), Equality is a myth and society can only progress if there is a big gap in rich and poor. Someone’s loss is another one’s gain. Same philosophy is Jungle’s philosophy, where theory of survival of fittest exist. If you are not fit enough, then please die. Economic system in Capitalism works in a way that all the money flows from Top to bottom. If money of top 1% overflows from their pockets, that “Overflown” money is then distributed to the society in general. If money from the pockets of top 1% is reduced, then taxes are imposed, prices are increased, artificial inflation is created so that income goes back to the pockets of Top 1% from poors.Recommend

  • Imran

    ………Capitalism failed everywhere in the world………
    *SocialismRecommend

  • Eddied

    the author has no clue about the successes of capitalism and the disasters of socialism (venezula) and communism (Russia and China)…the onlyn reason China has progressed is that they have embraced capitalism for all business but only have a communist government…the cure for poverty is capitalism…Recommend

  • Custard_Pie_In_Your_Face

    And in other news, the study of Physics should be banned as it has lead to the development of nuclear weapons.

    I don’t have a problem with opinions that differ from my own, but this is just childish immature rambling without no depth of thought whatsoever.Recommend

  • Sane

    Then why people vote those who are symbol of capitalism. Can anyone of middle class can think to contest in elections (those who do are funded – again from the extortion money or looted money by political parties). Knowingly, these politicians have looted this country and shall do the same, people vote them? We are enemy of our own.Recommend