America Has A Terminal Case Of Capitalism (In Two Charts)

Just follow the money

America has a case of capitalism so bad it's literally killing them. They're so violently ill that it's killing everyone. America has a terminal case of capitalism. Just look at their charts.

First healthcare:


Life Expectancy in US vs Other Countries and Cost of Healthcare per Capita. (Eric Topol, via Leo Beletsky)

America somehow spends more on healthcare to get less life. Who does this benefit? Capital.

Then look at warfare:


“The top 5 military contractors ate $2 trillion during the Afghanistan War” via Stephen Semler

Since 9/11, America has spent over $6.4 trillion and killed millions of people, and for what? This is more than they spent on World War II. Who does this benefit? Again, capital.

It goes on and on. Behind every outrage in the news is someone's stock portfolio going up.

Life & Death

Who benefits from climate change? Carbon capital. Who benefits from a prison state? Carceral capital. It goes on and on. Why is America monopolizing mRNA vaccines? So monopolies can make money. Why does America have so many guns? Because someone makes money selling them.

You can get lost in abstract arguments about all of these issues, but then someone makes money on those arguments, selling books and advertising. You can get lost in 'per capita' figures without understanding that the real unit is per capital. You can get lost in the weeds, or just follow the money. America's capitol is capital. It's constitution is capitalism.

Behind every outrage, every stupidity, just understand that someone is making money on it. That explains it all. It also explains the fall.


To brutally condense the work of Joseph Tainter (The Collapse of Complex Societies), civilizations collapse when they hit diminishing returns and elites gobble them up. You can see this happening across the American economy.

In 1900, building a mile of subway cost $110 million (inflation-adjusted). In 2015, it cost 23X as much ($2.5 billion per mile). New business creation has declined by 44% since the 1970s. Most consumer technology (fridges, planes) hasn’t changed since the 1960s. Average income has declined since 1979 for 90% of Americans, while increasing handsomely for the 1%. (quoting myself)
Tainter's graph on diminishing returns, which also describes too much drug use

America has been getting less bang for its buck since at least the 1980s. Tainter calls this declining marginal returns. The way I understand it is through drugs. I've done ecstasy and nothing ever matches your first high. I know people that did X every week and it just did nothing to them after a while. It's the same way with capitalism.

I remember when being a millionaire was a dream. Now you have to be a billionaire. Next a trillionaire. You keep having to do more and more to get less and less high.

The economic growth that got America jacked after WWII started wearing off in the 80s and now they're completely cracked out. This is a sort of natural tendency, as you would know if you've taken drugs. Behold Michael Jackson taking surgical anesthesia. At the end you're spending more and more money to get less and less high, until it finally kills you. Capitalism is a hell of a drug.

This is where America is today. It's 6 AM, the drugs are wearing off, and suddenly they're noticing that the toilets are filthy, everyone looks haggard and cruel, and their lives suck.

Capital Collapse

All of the real signs of American life are shit. Americans have decreasing life expectancy. Their real wages haven't increased. Globally they're humiliated and everyone hates them. They experience this as a series of disconnected problems, but the root cause is one. Just follow the money. Everything wrong with America makes money for someone. And they do it all in plain sight. Just turn on a TV.

Americans proudly watch their stock market go up but that's like being proud of how fast your cancer is growing. It's literally killing them. Unfortunately for us, America is in the world. The capitalist order they've exported is killing us too.