#Neoliberalism at work: Why work for structural reform when you can donate a dollar on top of your $25 steak and $15 bottle of kombucha?

Let’s take a minute to actually break down the #WholeFoods variety of neoliberal #capitalism & the illusion of consumption ending #poverty.
Here in the US #WholeFoods & gentrification go together like peanut butter & jelly.
Gentrification effectively prices anyone below a certain income level out of a neighborhood, by jacking up rents & the price on consumer goods & services.
#WholeFoods is the poster child for this, with their ridiculously inflated prices on staple foods, but they take it to another level. This self-important emporium of yuppie chow isn’t just selling you overpriced organic cruelty free bean sprouts. They’re selling you an image.
And that image is the idea that by shopping at #WholeFoods, you’re somehow making the world a Better Place.
Don’t worry about the hundreds of poor people displaced by skyrocketing rents & low-income rentals being converted to overpriced condos, you donated $1 to African hunger.
This carries over into every other aspect of our lives.
Is your job not providing you enough income? Join #Uber and turn your car into an unlicensed cab! And you can rent out your home with #AirBnB!
And as a consumer, using these services means your helping someone, right?
Not really.
The these services are used, the more they become the expectation, rather than the exception. And that helps justify employers - such as #WholeFoods - cutting wages & benefits for workers who already aren’t getting enough hours to make ends meet.
Not to mention the simple indignity of being forced to drive strangers around for little more than gas money, or the hideous amounts of insecurity and developmental damage caused by telling your child that absolute fucking strangers have aright to their bed if they have money.
This, then, is the #WholeFoods model of tech driven neoliberal capitalism: the idea that markets can always provide the solutions to everything.
This, however, is a lie. What neoliberal capitalism actually does is convert suffering into a commodity for trade.
And once a social problem becomes a revenue stream, there is an incentive to keep it very much in place. Albeit with a more palatable veneer, such as convincing the part-timer relying on renting out their bed to make rent that they’re an “entrepreneur.”
Which brings us to the next problem after the lie that capitalism solves problems created by capitalism: social atomization.
Basically, as more and more of our society is driven by carefully curated, individualized consumption experiences, the idea of a shared interest erodes.
We cease to be the citizens of a nation, or voters in a state, or members of our communities, and increasingly becomes isolated consumers paying to live in our little experiential bubbles, isolated from, neighbors, friends, & even our families.
We replace society with solipsism.
This means that we no longer see ourselves as collective participants in society, and only experience feelings of worth or value in relation to our consumption.
Now aside from the psychological nightmare that is - as any child of divorce can attest - there’s another problem.
Basically, it means our entire importance as people becomes reduced to our ability buy more stuff. And bad as that kind of consumerism is mentally & socially, it’s worse economically, because if you have a consumption driven economy, you better always have consumers.
Ah, but consumers need an income to spend, and all this gentrification and app-lifestyle commoditization means that incomes keep dropping. And that means consumption falls, further reducing employment and subsequently reducing incomes.
It’s a downward spiral.
So does all this make #WholeFoods & @JeffBezos the villains of the story?
Well, yeah, actually.
Companies like #WholeFoods & #Amazon (another Bezos company) have enormous financial power, which allows them to hire lobbyists, and even outright buy political leaders.
The result being that they’re able to get the sort of legislation passed that allows them to protect & institutionalize their revenue streams. This combined with the disempowering atomization of society means that they have pretty much unchecked power to do whatever they want.
From zoning & oversight rules that favor them, to wage & benefit suppression that lowers their expenses, this corporate malefactors are free to continue extracting every penny they can from consumers & employees, for as long as they can find new victims.
So, “Welcome to #WholeFoods. We hope you enjoy your experience.”
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