Profit as the Measure of All Things

Why must profit-making be the measure of anything worthwhile and legitimate in American life? As usual, it takes a comedian to tell us the truth these days. On the Huffington Post: Bill Maher of HBO’s “Real Time with Real Maher,” nails what is wrong with so many aspects of our country today:

“How about this for a New Rule: Not everything in America has to make a profit. It used to be that there were some services and institutions so vital to our nation that they were exempt from market pressures. Some things we just didn’t do for money. The United States always defined capitalism, but it didn’t used to define us. But now it’s becoming all that we are.”

Maher then goes on to point out, with characteristic bite, how the US now outsources government functions to for-profit contractors to wage war, operate prisons and manage health care. Even the news can’t be allowed to be news unless it turns a profit:

“….unlike in Cronkite’s day, today’s news has to make a profit like all the other divisions in a media conglomerate. That’s why it wasn’t surprising to see the CBS Evening News broadcast live from the Staples Center for two nights this month, just in case Michael Jackson came back to life and sold Iran nuclear weapons. In Uncle Walter’s time, the news division was a loss leader. Making money was the job of The Beverly Hillbillies. And now that we have reporters moving to Alaska to hang out with the Palin family, the news is The Beverly Hillbillies.

Maher concludes:

“If conservatives get to call universal health care “socialized medicine,” I get to call private health care “soulless vampires making money off human pain.” The problem with President Obama’s health care plan isn’t socialism, it’s capitalism.

“And if medicine is for profit, and war, and the news, and the penal system, my question is: what’s wrong with firemen? Why don’t they charge? They must be commies. Oh my God! That explains the red trucks!”