Op-Ed: Capitalism and The Mask Debate: An Example of American Ideals

Capitalism and the Mask Debate BeLatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of health.cleavelandclinic.org

This story is part of the BELatina Student Corner. The BELatina Student Corner is a series that provides high school and college students the opportunity to get their work published. 

It has been a little over a year since the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in the country.  Since then, we all are faced with one question: should masks be mandatory? 

America is a country where we are given our freedoms and choices. This common theme of liberty vs. safety sounds much like the ongoing debate on national security vs. digital privacy. 

However, the same politicians arguing for national security are now the ones that care about our essential liberties more. This debate reflects a lot on the United States political figures refusing to wear a mask, and some even discouraging it.

One question that has been on my mind since the beginning is: Why is it so hard to understand we need to provide safety for the country? The question is simple, really. How do we make people care about others? 

See, the reason many refuse to wear a mask is that it “infringes on their liberties.” However, by not wearing one, they are infringing on the liberties of others. The greater purpose is to protect others, which seems hard to do. The mask debate is only one example of how the United States has failed to communicate basic humanity within its citizens.

However, I will not blame this all on one person because it ties into the deep roots of this country. Far before the pandemic — or even Trump —, this country has a long record of institutionalized racism, xenophobia, and the blood of many innocent people. Even today, from healthcare, homelessness, and minimum wage to college debt, it all comes down to how we can make people care about others. I guess that question is only getting harder to answer now that everyone seems to be for themselves by themselves.

This is the point of connection, where we see how this nation’s capitalist mindset is the root cause of many of its problems, and only now that we see this in broad daylight. 

So, let’s talk about capitalism! 

Many argue how capitalism may be useful for our economic advantage, but the price we pay for that is unmatched. The real problem is that capitalism only creates a bigger class divide. It makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. 

The middle class practically does not even exist. Health care has gotten so expensive that people are creating Go Fund Me’s for basic insulin. College debt is making teenagers go broke, and the worst part is that they pay for it most of their lives. 

In December 2020, there were more than 10 million unemployed Americans, and that’s a problem. But the bigger picture is that while people were struggling to put food on their tables, the government was bailing out corporations. 

You might be asking how this may be a cause for other systemic injustices but, notice jail cells are made primarily of POCs, the ones that are taking care of dead bodies during a pandemic. 

And let’s not even get started on the wage gaps between minorities. Latina and Hispanic women make around 50 % of the salary that a White man earns for the same job. Black people living in the country’s poorest neighborhoods and over 5 million women are losing jobs to the pandemic and the system.  

It all ties back to capitalism, how this country refuses to acknowledge the apparent division caused by that 1% that’s taking from the poor. Many ask us to reset the system built by the wealthy, but I think it’s time to create a revolution against the wealthy. Like philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau once said, “When the people shall have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich.”  

This story is a part of the BELatina Student Corner’s series, a series that allows high school and college students to be exposed to the editorial industry and have their work published.