How can we challenge this dominant but destructive economic assumption?

Embedded very deeply in our American culture — and many other nations’ cultures too — is an assumption that is embedded so deeply that nobody recognizes it, let alone challenge it.

The assumption is this:  It is OK if what I do kills people, so long as I’m making money from what I do.

At the surface level — the explicit level — if you were to ask people whether it is moral to kill other people, they would say “no.”

But below the surface — at the implicit level — our society tolerates behaviors that knowingly kill people because powerful forces are making money from doing so.  People who say they are “pro-life” are among the people who knowingly kill people in socially approved ways.


EXAMPLE #1:  Tobacco kills many people, but tobacco companies are allowed to exist and to profit.  Tobacco kills many more people than illegal drugs, but our society has passed laws outlawing certain drugs, and our criminal justice system vigorously enforces those laws and imprisons people who break them.  Tobacco companies, farmers and retailers make money from killing people.

EXAMPLE #2:  Millions of Americans serve in the U.S. military.  The military’s explicit purpose is to kill people when higher-up bosses order the troops to kill them.  In many cases they kill people from a distance (from drones, airplanes, missile launchers, etc.), so they don’t have to see their victims, thereby providing a psychological escape from the actual reality that the troops are indeed killing human beings.  Military employees and weapons manufacturers — and their Congressional enablers — make money from killing people.

EXAMPLE #3:  Although some guns are designed for hunting animals for food, a great many guns are designed for killing human beings.  Gun manufacturers and their lobbyists spend millions of dollars to PREVENT reasonable safeguards that would reduce the numbers of killings.  Congress and state legislators keep refusing to take reasonable, modest actions.  Even if they did, guns would continue to murder many, many Americans every year, because the gun manufacturers are making money from them.

EXAMPLE #4:  Environmental pollution and climate disruption kill people.  Highly profitable business corporations generate wastes and pollution (including greenhouse gas pollution) that they know are deadly, but they do it anyway because they make money from the fossil fuels and other products.  They don’t want to reduce their profits even slightly in order to save people’s lives.  They strongly support the Republican Party and the Trump regime, which is aggressively eliminating the few environmental protections we had and aggressively promoting more pollution and more wasteful use of fossil fuels, because those politicians are extremely corrupted by money and political power, so they knowingly kill people through pollution and climate disruption because they want to make money and increase their political power.


The economic system is addicted to these deadly corruptions.  Only nonviolent grassroots organizing can change our economic system — and our overall political/economic/social culture — so that ethics and nonviolence will be prioritized over making money.

About GlenAnderson 1515 Articles
Since the late 1960s Glen Anderson has devoted his life to working as a volunteer for peace, nonviolence, social justice, and progressive political issues. He has worked through many existing organizations and started several. Over the years he has worked especially for such wide-ranging goals as making peace with Vietnam, eliminating nuclear weapons, converting from a military economy to a peacetime economy, abolishing the death penalty, promoting nonviolence at all levels throughout society, and helping people organize and strategize for grassroots movements to solve many kinds of problems. He writes, speaks, and conducts training workshops on a wide variety of topics. Since 1987 he has produced and hosted a one-hour cable TV interview program on many kinds of issues. Since 2017 he has blogged at He lives in Lacey near Olympia WA. You can reach him at (360) 491-9093