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Proletarian issue 14 (October 2006)
Letter: Capitalism is bad for workers’ health
A few weeks ago, Tony Blair visited Nottingham. He made his infamous ‘health’ speech, in which he tried to evade his government’s responsibility and role regarding the nation’s health. Speaking particularly about the rise in obesity, he said that people have to be responsible for their own health. He quoted diabetes as "accounting for 10 percent of the NHS budget". There is a link between weight gain and type 2 diabetes, but if obesity is simply personal responsibility then why are today’s forecasts predicting around 20 percent obesity in the nation by 2012? Are we so irresponsible with our health?

Experts recognise that the causes of obesity are complex issues, but lack of exercise (reliance on machinery like cars) and high-energy, easily-available foods (takeaways, precooked meals etc) are thought to be the main reasons. So come on Tony, who really is responsible? It is not the individual that creates the modern lifestyle, but technologies!

These technologies are at the service of the ruling class. The people making the most profit from food are the distributors, the supermarkets. Supermarket owners get super rich, like Lord Sainsbury. Hang on, isn't he one of the major sponsors of the Labour Party and a close friend of Tony's? Could this be a reason why Phoney Blair wants to persuade us that it is our fault because we are stupid and irresponsible?

Like people who drink too much espresso and get rushed to hospital with irregular heartbeats! Remember that one? Of course, irregular heartbeats can be caused by worrying about taking your country to war on the back of a pack of lies, and you are about to be exposed. Still I'm sure it must have been the espresso though. Hmmm.

Apart from Blair playing the blame game to protect his rich friends, why are workers eating poor quality food?

Think about why people eat takeaways. It is not because they are lazy or uneducated. It is because in modern society more adults work. When you come home from a hard day’s work, usually at meal times, food needs providing – and quick! The solution is obvious. Fewer and fewer meals are prepared at home because no one is available to prepare them.

More workers, particularly women, are employed in part-time jobs to make ends meet. Children are raised in an environment of ready meals, microwave from the freezer or takeaways. The obesity problem becomes cultural and is passed on through generations. Even if these children grow up to be unemployed, the lifestyle will continue. Obesity in childhood increases the chances of early death. The greed for profit drives workers to live this way and it kills millions each year.

When British capitalism was young it murdered workers in slums, with unclean water and disease. Social democrats then argued that the problem was a lack of personal responsibility on the part of the workers, as if anyone would choose to live that way! Today the slums are gilded cages with clean water, but the food is killing you for the same old reason.

Society has the capability to provide healthier food. People would be encouraged to eat healthily if decent ready-made food was provided cheaply and had a healthy content. The drive for profit, and the need for food manufacturers to compete, has led to the increase in cheap ingredients and chemicals to preserve and increase flavour. That's why your food today is so unhealthy.

Food needs to be regulated to provide maximum nourishment rather than maximum profit. Workers need time to exercise during working hours. This would create more work as well as healthier workers. Capitalism has never been able to provide a healthy lifestyle.

Tony and his cronies feel it’s a personal matter. He hides behind the social democrat ‘give people the information and let them choose’ line. Under capitalism, the working class has no choice. Knowing the facts changes nothing. While we have capitalism, our lifestyles will get worse. Food quality will decline further, exercise will become less necessary to produce profit and the horror of parents burying their children will grow.

The simple fact is that, every way you look at it, capitalism is bad for your health! Get rid of capitalism and all of its ‘social democrat’ defenders!

Yours Fraternally

Rob Rodgers



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