Home > Capitalism is bad for your health, politics > “The moral person’s guide to investing in Ebola stocks”

“The moral person’s guide to investing in Ebola stocks”

Apparently there’s a way to justify cashing in on other people’s misery, while still reading the guardian with your spiced chai mocha and feeling good about your place in the world :/

So I have this issue where I can’t express coherently how disgusting this is. For a start, one of the reasons why we didn’t have a vaccine or treatment already for ebola is because of the very profit motive that now is good for investing. So it wasn’t worth pharmaceutical corps bringing such drugs to market when the potential consumers were (a) few and for only a short time (vs statins, antacids etc which people take for long periods of time) and (b) poor. “Pharmaceutical companies operate for profit. They research those drugs that will get them more revenue and a higher stock price”

Someone sitting in front of a stocks and shares website is going to get best returns if the big pharma they’ve invested in finds a medication or vaccine that they can patent and sell at the highest price the market can afford. They do not have the same interests as the communities currently being devastated by ebola. In fact, even without any new medication, ebola could have been stopped or at least reduced in severity months ago with basic public health interventions such as quarantine (with appropriate triage and levels of quarantine), water/hygiene/sanitation provision and contact tracing.  Those on the ground are best placed to know what needs to be produced to help them help others. Capitalism distorts what is produced to that which makes the most profit, not that which necessarily is good for people or the planet.

But apparently by investing in stock you’re actively helping the ebola crisis! “investors motivate for-profit companies to focus on whatever seems to provide the biggest return. So investing in companies because they are working on treatments for Ebola directly motivates a company to complete research on their pipeline drugs, as well as providing the capital for that research.” Or you could just you know actually donate directly to MSF so that they can afford to pay for the medications and staffing to treat those affected by ebola. Oh, but then you’d definitely not get your investment back – suddenly less interested? Well stop dressing up your mercenary urges as charitable when they’re actually just your self-interest that you’re trying to justify.

Yes folks need to pay their rent and bills. And yes folks will do all sorts of things to do that. But no, you’re not contributing to the ebola response by doing that. You’re doing what mercenaries everywhere and always have done.

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