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How money and the profit motive destroy everything

- Introduction -
- Video games -
- Control over your games / devices -
- Information control -
- Casualization -
- Pandering to non-gamers -
- Exploiting human psychology -
- Cash-grabby remakes -
- Requiring perpetual payments -
- Crusade against fangames / mods -
- Employee abuse - Mick Gordon's story -
- Mental health -
- Capitalist definitions of worth -
- Workplace conditions -
- Physical health -
- Health effects of junk food -
- Anatomy of a junk food -
- Low nutrition of junk food -
- Junk food toxicity -
- Making junk food addictive -
- Is it enough to avoid junk food? -
- Other health-destroying things -
- The failure of medicine -
- Capitalism paywalls crucial health knowledge -
- The environment -
- Waste products -
- Deforestation -
- Genetically modified organisms -
- Sports -
- Funding by evil companies -
- Top-heavy distribution of earnings -
- Widespread use of performance enhancing substances -
- Rigged draws -
- Rigging matches and the abuse by betting companies -
- Patriotic pride in local players or clubs -
- Being a sports star SUCKS! -
- Miscellaneous -
- Shopping / product quality -
- Internet content creation -
- How to fix? -
- For now...cut your consumption! -

Introduction

Why are money and the profit motive issues at all? Money has some interesting properties:

Property two means that - basically - whoever has more money, has more power - with no limit in sight in the truly "free market". Properties three and four then make it very easy to abuse your power. The first property means that the temptation to get more money and become more powerful is always there for everyone. Though a regular person might be satisfied with just survival and the basic comforts of civilized life, not everyone is like this. Like the villains in fiction, some people want the "ultimate power", and it turns out that money is the magic item that gives it in the modern world. Not only that - it is the evil behaviors that are rewarded with more money; if you have an "ethics block", you will never get rich. The more evil you are willing to do, the higher you can get up the money ladder (this should be obvious intuitively, but I will give several examples of this later). So, not only is the psychopath more likely to want power in the first place - but is also rewarded with more power by executing the evil behaviors that are natural for him. Through properties #1 and #4, those evil rich can then employ the poor to recirculate the evil. We end up in a world where everyone is thrown into the power game, and the most evil win it and wreak havoc. I'm now going to attempt to give some examples of how it works in practice:

Video games

One of the biggest victims of capitalism's claws, video games turned from an amazing piece of entertainment to a disgusting cash grab.

Control over your games / devices

At the height of PC gaming, you used to buy a disk, put it in the drive, install the game and be able to play (some of them didn't even require a CD after installation, which means you could freely share). Now you're lucky if there is data on the disk at all - for example, Metal Gear Solid 5 had only a steam installer (archive) (MozArchive). Steam itself is pretty much a PC gaming monopoly these days - and to play the vast majority of PC games, you need to sign up for an account, and agree to their terrible privacy policy and TOS, that can change anytime (archive) (MozArchive) and you will lose your games if you don't consent to the updates. Then, you can only play the games you bought through that account, which means you need to go online (a few games have ways to bypass the protection). Take a guess as to what happens if Steam ever dies. If a game has an update available, it will be automatically downloaded. If you want to share your game, you need to give it up. Publishers can also revoke your keys (archive) (MozArchive), proving that the games are not really yours.

So PC gamers are pretty much fucked. What about consoles? Nintendo still allows to put the game in and play, and the cartridges are pretty durable. There's also no problem with using many different systems. Nintendo is an asshole company in many ways, but here they're doing pretty well. PS4 and Xbox One seem to be "all clear" as well (however, Microsoft already had plans to implement heavy DRM (archive) (MozArchive) on their console at launch, and now they will be ditching the disks altogether (archive) (MozArchive)). However, having an online connection is still expected these days, therefore many games are released only digitally, and you get other online exclusive features (such as patches and downloadable content). Of course, with connectivity comes the usual spying (archive) (MozArchive) - and something even worse - claiming control of all the data on your device: you also grant to Nintendo a worldwide, royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display your User Content (see? Told you Nintendo are assholes!). They can also render the system permanently unplayable if they dislike the software you've installed there or even connecting unauthorized devices.

Due to the online requirement, games are also released broken at launch in hopes of issuing a patch later - for example the Skyrim Special Edition (archive) (MozArchive) - which not only did not fix bugs present in the original one, but introduced new ones. When the Internet wasn't a given, the developers didn't really have an opportunity to "fix" a game post-launch, and had to make sure it was actually finished on release. Else it would simply be ignored and fall into obscurity. On the other hand, today's games stay bugged for months after release (archive) (MozArchive) and since people are already used to being exploited in this way (hey, you can even use them as free bug hunters - how economical is that?), they tolerate it. We're clearly moving towards a mostly-online, corpo-controlled experience, and this recent development brings us closer to it:

At the 2019 Game Developer Conference, Google has presented their game streaming service called Stadia. All you need to play games with it is an Internet-compatible device (the ultimate convenience?). But since all the game data is coming from Google's servers, the users lose any kind of control. If this ever gets popular (like Steam has despite all its flaws), it will very likely mean the end of modding, cheating, and piracy. Not only that, but Google will be able to track and individually control every one of Stadia's players - such as by injecting ads or modifying their gaming experience on the fly (by integrating it with Google Assistant, which they admitted they want to do). The biggest issue, though, is that a developer will be able to delete their games, and there will be nothing you can do to play them again. New FIFA came out? The old one's trashed and you're forced to shell out the money. The ultimate failure for the players is also the ultimate success for the capitalists. UPDATE October 2022: Stadia has died (archive) (MozArchive), but expect the concept to be revived in a few years elsewhere.

Information control

Developers used to release free demos of games, in which you received access to a few levels and were able to decide if you wanted to shell out the money. These days, you have to rely on "sponsored" reviews, where the reviewers must agree (archive) (MozArchive) to terms such as Videos will promote positive sentiment about the game. Videos must not show bugs or glitches that may exist. and Persuade viewers to purchase game, catch the attention of casual and core gamers [...]. Written reviews do not avoid the issues - people even get fired (archive) (MozArchive) for giving games bad ratings - Eidos threatened to pull ad revenue from Gamespot as a result of his review, and though this kind of thing is relatively common in games journalism, the nascent management team panicked and decided that Gerstmann was unreliable.

There's one big thorn into the manipulators' sides, and that is user reviews. Clearly, the tactics used to control the journalists will not work here. But is there something else the censors can do? Sure is, and they are happily taking the opportunity (archive) (MozArchive). Classic problem-reaction-solution: first, imagine a "problem" - which is the actual players rating a game negatively because it's terrible (isn't that the purpose of reviews in the first place?). Then, convince people that the user reviews are unreliable (In short, review bombs make it harder for the Review Score to achieve its goal of accurately representing the likelihood that you'd be happy with your purchase if you bought a game.) and therefore need to be controlled, even though their own evidence refutes that - When we look at what happens with the Review Score after a review bomb, we see that it generally recovers, in some cases fully back to where it was beforehand.

Now that we've got the "problem" and "reaction" taken care of - we need the solution. The first attempt was to simply provide graphs showing the timed rating changes - quite benign, right? The second, over a year later, was much more malicious though - can't be too blatant and remove negative user reviews, so we will just make them not count towards the displayed score (archive) (MozArchive). To control the narrative, they recruited all the journos to spit out the same exact nonsense:

Startpage search result, showing Valve controlling the journalists

How eerie. One snap of the finger and all the news sites completely conform to Valve's wishes, even down to the article title (notice how they're all mentioning off-topic review bombs? As if it's so obvious that they're off-topic). The "crime" here appears to be simply noticing a game's flaw that some other reviewers also took issue with - which is how the review feature is supposed to be used. Yet according to Valve and the journos, that's a review bomb and has to be controlled and censored. When all the news sites spit the exact same shit in their headlines, is that an "off-topic news bomb"? According to their logic, it should be - yet the search engines aren't censoring those. In the end, we're slowly losing one of the only ways we've been given to combat the developers' narratives about their games. After all - if the news pieces and reviews are not representing us anymore - what remains?

Casualization

Today's gaming caters to the lowest common denominator - as in, the casual gamer. Much to the dismay of true fans, this often results in sequels that shit on what made the series good in the first place. Some examples of this phenomenon are Ace Attorney, Pokemon, WipeOut, TES, Thief, and many others. Though the degree of decline is not always huge or even significant, it is noticeable. For example, WipeOut 2048 by default enables the "Pilot assist" feature, which will help you during hard turns and such. But we've managed to do without it in WipeOut Pure and Pulse, so what has changed? That's an example of a slight issue, barely worth focusing on - but some series, like Pokemon, have been completely ruined. With every new installment, we get more and more bad changes such as mobile Pokemon centers, poison wearing off by itself, more items being given away for free, early overpowered Pokemon, re-catchable legendaries, "rivals" that are actually your friends, Roto-Powers which make it pretty much impossible to lose a fight, reduction in the amount of Pokemon gym leaders have, and I could go on. Sure, those modifications make the games more accessible to the modern kids - buried in the amount of available entertainment and lacking attention spans - but they also destroy the quality and the point of the series completely.

For example, if fights can't be lost, are you really fighting? If poison wears off by itself right as your pokemon is about to faint, in what way was it actually poisoned? It's a totally arbitrary change that doesn't make sense in any possible world, created entirely to casualize the game (no more desperately counting steps hoping you can manage to leave that Viridian Forest, with regret in the back of your mind that you didn't buy enough antidotes). How special is the legendary encounter if you are not only shoved into it (in contrast to R / B where you have to find it in some far-out place), but don't even have to be careful to not faint it and lose it forever? The modern kid starting out with the newer generations will never feel this tension, this excitement. Mobile centers mean you never really have to plan your routes, you're never under pressure of blacking out. The entire world feels fake and set up entirely to make the protagonist succeed; basically a movie pretending to be a game. Completely in contrast to especially the first two generations, where it felt like you were just a random kid from a random place and weren't meant to succeed at all, but forged your path even when faced with great resistance (which is what the first two rivals felt like - the asshole who's always one step ahead of you, and the thief with an unfair advantage; unimaginable today, right?).

Game devs / publishers know that these days, properties that make a quality game aren't necessarily the same ones that are going to bring the most profit. And as the big studios (of which Gamefreak is surely one now) are focused mainly on making big profits, we can't expect them to risk them in favor of game quality or even the spirit of the series. Pokemon Red and Blue were basically a shot in the dark (archive) (MozArchive), cobbled together at a huge investment loss that wasn't certain to be recovered at all - The first set of Pokémon games took six years to produce, and their production put a lot of financial strain on Game Freak. Five employees quit and Tajiri did not take a salary, instead living off of his father's income. Additional funds from Creatures allowed Game Freak to complete the games. They were actually some of the more broken games in existence, but they held together just well enough to be playable, and yet, they were huge successes and basically captured the hearts of most of the kids that lived back when they came out. Why was that? Big profits weren't expected, so they could have afforded to be revolutionary, and not have to avoid including "hard" (to figure out, find or grind for) - but rewarding in the end - things. Subsequent generations were surely more polished and "accessible", but lost some of that "spirit" with each installment, seemingly proportionately to the profit that was expected to be made. Today, the devs make more and more "safe" decisions that won't alienate anyone; R / B would never get invented in this climate. If you think this is just my imagination, check out this quote (archive) (MozArchive) from Junichi Masuda:

Kids these days or even people who grew up playing Pokemon--everyone is a lot more busy. There are a lot more things competing for a person's time than there were back then. For example, there are so many free games you can play on your phone now, there's so many entertainment options, so making it a little easier to play is the reason for that.
The Pokemon Emerald Battle Palace A beautiful place you will never enter again

This is presumably why they failed to include the Emerald Battle Frontier in OR / AS, losing the most valuable thing that a Pokemon game has ever had. I mean, what percentage of players would spend the hundreds of hours required to succeed in it? But the lack of it unquestionably makes the remakes less quality. If art for art's sake was the goal, then the Frontier simply had to come in even if it took additional months to implement it (but it doesn't seem that costly). But the more a product is profit-centered, the more it views issues in terms of "how many customers will this attract?". And the longer a series exists, the more it will get swallowed by the profit dragon. These days, I consider Pokemon to be almost completely chewed up by it, with a new shitty broken game spit out every year. I mean, I finished my Pokemon training career at Ultra Sun / Moon since they didn't impress me and I didn't care to keep getting disappointed in the newer ones, but that is what I've seen in the reporting of others.

If this wasn't hurtful enough, imagine that Thief 4 is a much worse disaster than any Pokemon game, made by people who have zero understanding of what made the original so great. At least the Pokemon series keeps the core mechanics of traveling, catching, battling, etc. untouched. Not so with Thief 4. My favorite video ever digs deep into the differences between the way games were made before the hobby went mainstream, and now; and exposes Thief 4 as a total mockery, or an attempt to cram all this content in hopes of appealing to someone out there - a great way to describe modern gaming development in general.

Of course, not everyone has to be a hardcore gamer. There's still a place for the people who want to move some blocks around and burn 15 minutes; they can have their Candy Crushes. But some are not satisfied with this type of gaming and there should exist something for those, too. Yet the profit motive basically ensures every franchise will keep being simplified more and more to try and appease the first group, which is a lot more numerous than the second. Again, recognizing the value of art for art's sake instead of only as a cash cow, is the fix.

Pandering to non-gamers

But that's not all - the publishers are now bowing down to whiners that don't even play the games they're criticizing. For many years, there has been a coordinated attack on gamers (archive) (MozArchive) - as in, the people who actually buy and play the games developers produce. And anytime the publishers go along with those people, their profits go down the toilet (archive) (MozArchive) (because they alienate their actual customers). What are the non-gamers complaining about, anyway? How about violence (archive) (MozArchive), which has been apart of gaming pretty much since the medium was created; and sexual (archive) (MozArchive) content (archive) (MozArchive), which is also a gaming staple. What is weird is, even though these people don't play games as proven by the lost sales (archive) (MozArchive), they still manage to have a lot of influence. They try to get people fired (archive) (MozArchive) for wrongthink and sometimes (archive) (MozArchive) succeed (archive) (MozArchive). It took them only 3 hours (archive) (MozArchive) to get THQ Nordic to apologize for an interview they did with 8chan (you know, a forum with actual gamers on it). Even though there was nothing whatsoever there about "pedophilia" or "white supremacy", they still pushed that narrative. And because of their influence, entire game series (archive) get ruined by - for example - forced diversity (archive) (MozArchive), even when it goes against actual history (archive) (MozArchive) which the series has stood for so far. There's nothing wrong with including a black, muslim or female character if they actually fit the damn game, instead of solely to mark him / her off the imaginary diversity checklist (archive) (MozArchive) (which is the actual discriminatory position!). Has anyone ever complained about Lara Croft, for example? No, in fact she's one of the most iconic and loved characters of gaming. That is, until the SJWs came onto the scene and saw a problem with her "sexualization" (archive) (MozArchive) (which has never bothered any of the women playing the game, or even cosplaying as her - I remember a lot of those from gaming magazines when I was a kid). Why does all this happen? Probably because the people who make the decisions about what gets included into a game these days are a bunch of suits that really know nothing about the hobby - as proven by the whole THQ Nordic situation (archive) (MozArchive), where the CEO said:

This letter is to offer my sincerest apologies and regret for THQ Nordic GmbH Vienna's interaction with the controversial website 8chan last Tuesday, February 26. I condemn all unethical content this website stands for.

Maybe you should have researched more. There is no unethical content on /v/ - that's all SJW delusions (and by lying about there being "child pornography", they are the ones being unethical).

As a Swedish based, fast growing group, we firmly support equality and diversity. We are also working actively to combat discrimination, harassment, and misconduct.

Maybe you should be working to "support" good game development and "combat" SJW idiocy instead (by the way, it is them that are harassing people - even this exact situation is a proof). Let me reiterate: these people do not play games - bowing down to them is pointless. Your actual audience is 8chan and similar places, and yet you (being a clueless suit) chose to publicly disown them. By the way, no matter how much you try to appease the SJWs, they will never be satisfied. Again, this situation provides ample evidence:

I am terribly sorry for the short-sightedness of my (!) decision, and promise to be far more vigorous in my assessment of these activities in the future.

Philipp Brock, one of the THQ people who was posting on 8chan, apologized for that later (due to SJW pressure no doubt). And yet that wasn't enough for them:

Brock does not explain why he failed to "do proper due diligence" researching 8chan, yet simultaneously knew someone at 8chan would need to "take care of the nasty stuff".
Brock does not explain why he engaged with users discussing and posting "loli" images.
Brock does not explain why he engaged with users posting about the "SocJus crowd" on a website used to mount notable campaigns of harassment.

Every time you fulfill a wish of the SJWs, they just throw three more demands at you. You might be wondering what does this have to do with capitalism. As I've said earlier, modern gaming companies are owned by people who have nothing to do with gaming - they're just "investors" looking to claim yet another industry for a quick buck. And if they believe that the modern audience wants these "diversity checklists" or the removal of violence or sexuality, then that's what you're going to get. The SJWs are loud and seem scary, so they create that impression. The THQ Nordic situation provides a perfect example that even positions at the very top of the ladder can get frightened into submission by the mob. And if you work for a company whose higher-ups have been influenced by them - and you get told to censor your character or include some dumb political idea - then you have to do it. If you think this is just my imagination, check this (archive) (MozArchive):

“We wanted Tifa to have abs, so she now has more of an athletic body type. The ethics department at Square Enix also said we had to tighten her chest so it doesn’t look unnatural during all the intense fighting. Because of that we added black thigh highs and tank top.”

Big companies have ethics departments that decide what's allowed or not allowed in your games. The antidote to this kind of thing is independent game development, of course. Where a few nerds come together to create something beautiful, without outside influence or expectation to get rich (which necessitates bowing down to corporate executives). Like in the good old days of Doom, etc. Without the profit motive, suits worming themselves into high positions at gaming companies disappear, as they have nothing to find there anymore.

Exploiting human psychology

When you are a fan of a series, you don't want to feel like you're missing out on something - and the publishers mercilessly take advantage of this human psychological trait. They create a "regular" edition of a game, and then an "enhanced" or "collector's" edition which includes items like figures, artbooks, or wearables. I will use the Doom Eternal Collector's Edition as an example of just how seriously you're getting exploited:

Doom Eternal Collector's Edition

The Doom Eternal game that you supposedly receive isn't even a game but a "right to download" the game from a store that siphons your personal data and can also block your access to the game at any time. The steel case then ends up protecting...nothing, because there is no disc in there; just a paper cutout (archive) (MozArchive) of one. Doesn't anyone see the utter pointlessness and mockery of this? It reminds me of the game Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, where in the penultimate mission the antagonist had set up a cardboard cutout of himself, trying to bait and trap you. They must rate your intelligence really low if they think you'll fall for this scam; it's like if they were trying to shove you a Real Doll and pretend you get a real GF. And yet - by preying on the nostalgia of gamers from the golden age of disks (during which boxes were actually necessary) - this will surely work on many.

You also receive the Doom (2016) and Doom Eternal lossless soundtracks. Yes, the same DE OST whose author still didn't get paid for. But you get a cassette tape to distract you from this fact... and it actually plays, apparently; I was half-expecting a fake one just for decoration similar to the paper disc. But people lack the equipment to make use of it either way, so it will just rot in the cupboard or be resold. The cassette might have actually been cool in the 90s, these days it's just preying on nostalgia again. But even then, in old games it was expected to simply be able to rip the soundtrack off the audio CD, or just copy some files (I've done this with many 90s and early 2000s games, so I am not just speaking out of my ass). It was only later that the capitalists figured out they could resell the fanboys what they already paid for and earn money twice. Now, the practice of selling the soundtrack as a separate thing is sadly very common.

Who is actually going to wear the Doom helmet for real? It's totally impractical. Maybe you'll show it to your nerdy friends (or YouTube channel viewers in an "unboxing" video) once, then put it on the shelf. As is often the case with these types of items. At least the lithograph could be hung on the wall...but it's still just decoration and feels tacked on. Lore books might seem cool but could easily be included within the game itself (Deus Ex or Morrowind do this well, for example). Businessmen tack on all this stuff so that the ultimate editions feels really ultimate. But it's all just carried by the fear of missing out.

How about the year one pass? It's simply a ticket to access two additional campaigns that...didn't exist yet (archive) (MozArchive) at the time of the release of the collector's edition - The deluxe edition also comes with the Year One pass, which will grant access to the first two single-player campaign expansions as they’re released throughout the year. Really? Is that a practice now? Adding nonexistent things to pretend that your ultimate edition is more ultimate than it actually is...I swear this wasn't a thing in the 90s and early 2000s. The skin is...well, just a skin; no comment necessary. Finishing up with the Classic weapons sound pack...you mean cutting out a part of an (almost) 30 year old game to resell to the fanboy and pretend you're doing him some big service? Sane games like Pokemon HG / SS or even the mediocre Secret of Mana remake include this by default. The price of this edition was...200$, compared to the 60$ for the base game. Wow. And again - to make people feel it's worth it, they had to stick as much separate items there as possible, even if they were fake or low effort.

If you think this is bad, brace yourself for even worse. It might seem that calling a release the Ultimate Edition would mean it included everything ever; not so. In fact, some of them do not even contain the actual games:

Mass Effect Ultimate Edition not containing the actual game

This is how much the corporations think of you. They sell you a game without the game, an ultimate edition that isn't. But hey, you can play with a toy car - so pay up, shut up, and enjoy the abuse.

Cash-grabby remakes

Another way to take advantage of this human psychological trait would be shitty remakes trying to cash in on nostalgia, such as Heroes of Might and Magic 3: HD Edition - which not only is inferior to fanmade mods, but also comes with its own false advertising:

HoM&M III HD lying about original HoM&M III sprites

An even more egregious example is Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour, which was so shitty that the developers have had to remove all previous versions of the game (archive) (MozArchive) from Steam and other stores so that people would need to shell out money for their newly shat out turd. This also meant we've lost a way to legally play the original Duke Nukem 3D expansions, since the remake did not include them. By the way - before the releases of these turds - the rights to both HoM&M and Duke Nukem had been sold to big corpos Ubisoft and Gearbox, respectively; showing the perils of property #2. In capitalism, any successful franchise has the potential to become a host for some rich asshole to parasite on and earn big money using the reputation of its name, before exhausting the goodwill of fans, throwing the franchise away to rot, and moving on to another. This happens over and over again, and if we care about art for art's sake, shouldn't be allowed.

UPDATE February 2024: haven't really been playing games since more than two years. But I was eyeing the Kingpin: Life of Crime remake (Kingpin: Reloaded) since it was announced, and thought that might just be the title that's going to bring me back. I mean, the original was a great game when it came out, but it's clearly showing its age today. Lots of things to improve in terms of AI, difficulty balance, etc. Our hopes and dreams are irrelevant now, though, because the remake is out and proven to be yet another disgusting cash grab. It's probably beating even the previously mentioned ones in its shamelessness. Graphics barely improved (in fact, the new lightning, etc effects just annoy me). So-called convenience features clutter the screen and casualize the experience (like the tasks displayed constantly in the top right, so annoying! As if the player couldn't just check out the journal whenever he wanted to). There are no other constructive changes, as far as I can see. People also say that the remake has additional bugs that the original did not (a standard these days). The price of 26 dollars on Steam is obviously excessive for what is effectively a 20+ year old game. And yet, the system requirements are modern - with 6GB RAM recommended (hey, I used to play the original on a 64MB RAM machine, what changes justify this?). So, Kingpin: Reloaded is yet another attempt to dig out the corpse of a cult classic, put a lipstick on it and pretend it's something new to impress the fanboy, extract the profit, and throw the carcass away again while laughing in the fanboy's face. No memories can remain sacred as long as the profit dragon continues its rampage. The only positive out of this remake is that we have yet another example of the perils of the profit motive. And maybe the fact that I can continue my not-gaming streak :D.

How about the NES or SNES classics as different examples of nostalgia pandering? These are simply glorified emulators that only support a small subset of games released for these systems. Of course, to make people buy those, Nintendo has shut down ROM sites (archive) (MozArchive) (see? Assholes), even though there is a possibility they used the ROMs from those sites themselves (archive) (MozArchive). How shameless, if true.

Requiring perpetual payments

Maybe the worst issue out there, or alternatively the best way to show the harm done by the profit dragon. You know how when you play Candy Crush it tries to get you to "buy a life", or "buy a power-up"? Those are microtransactions and games are increasingly being made around them. Because once you include them, there is no other option - since the person who buys them will get such a huge advantage, the game must take that into account. So the levels become harder to compensate, which compels people to shell out money for microtransactions. "Just don't buy them!" is not the answer then, as you can see. Multiplayer games make it even worse, since you're paying directly to beat a real person, giving more incentive. In any game that contains microtransactions, the game part inevitably becomes just an excuse to squeeze people dry. And because the squeeze can get quite big (archive) (MozArchive) and is seemingly unlimited, you can expect more and more of those microtransactions-heavy games getting created and less of the "regular" ones, where you pay once and get the full game.

And this, my friends, is what will doom gaming in the end - we can sort-of deal with the DLC, glitches, fake bags, casualization, "game not included", censorship, forced diversity, whatever - as long as the game does not expect you to be constantly spending money on it. Otherwise, we're not dealing with entertainment anymore, but digital chains. Another great example of those would be Pokemon; up until X / Y versions, you were able to transfer the monsters from your old games just by either putting in the old carts or connecting two devices. But the suits smelled an opportunity to make money and started requiring a paid app called Pokemon Bank to do what had been free up until this point. More than that - the fee is annual (5 USD) and if you fail to pay in time, your Pokemon get deleted (archive) (MozArchive) - so, you could call this a hostage situation.

Crusade against fangames and mods

Not only are today's games badly designed, overpriced and exploitative - the big corpos will not even let us fix them ourselves. Nintendo is the biggest culprit (again, assholes); here is a list of (some of) their transgressions:

Now why do they do so? Obviously, they want to make a profit both from the new games they make, and rereleases of old ones. After all, they've brought the first two generations of Pokemon back from their graves to the 3DS Virtual Console. The NES and SNES classics are another proof. And they can't risk their recent turds being outcompeted - Pokemon Prism / Uranium had millions of downloads and were widely considered better than the official creations, while Pokemon Ultra Sun / Moon were total disappointments. That's also the reason ROM sites (archive) (MozArchive) get brought down - if people can just download Pokemon Red / Blue from the Internet, why bother with Nintendo's ports that don't even add anything? Not to mention the many hacks available that way improve those ancient games. And if they ever wanted to revive yet another old classic, it can't be simply available for download out there, can it? So that's why ROM sites are a very important target. But why go after something like the Mario Commodore port? Remember, capitalists are psychopaths (archive) (MozArchive) and to them, just sending a message to the sheep (what capitalists consider consumers) is valuable. Absolutely no modifications allowed! I'll be honest, though, and say that not all companies are so terrible (archive) (MozArchive):

Nintendo’s frequent issuing of DMCA notices even led Sonic the Hedgehog publisher Sega to respond by expressing its support for fan-driven projects based on its games. Further, Sega eventually brought on a team of fans to develop Sonic Mania, which released in 2017 and went on to become a commercial success and the highest-rated Sonic game in 25 years.

So, it seems it's still possible to be a "good guy" (or a not-so-bad guy) and stay relevant in capitalism. But the monsters like Nintendo usually win out (when in a better system, they would be rotting 6 feet under already).

Employee abuse - Mick Gordon's story

Link to the full story. This could also go under mental or physical health, but since it's coming from the video game industry, I decided to put it here. I came across this story long ago, and it really fucking moved me back then. It is truly the stuff nightmares are made of; I've never seen anything else like it. It's been sitting in the back of my mind for way too long and so, I've finally decided to get off my butt and present it to you (hey, I also have a giant and ever-increasing backlog - but this is too important to wait). First, here is my attempt at an extremely condensed summary:

The summary is extremely condensed, and certain things were surely "lost in translation", so I recommend to read the story whole. Anyway, why cover specifically this event? Well, it's important and it hasn't gone as viral as I would hope. I realize that people get abused probably even worse in industries like food or cloth production. But hell, I'm a gamer and even though I don't play that much anymore, I still pay attention to what's going on (in contrast to the other industries that only interest me in passing). Gaming is something I've been involved in since very young ages, and it will always be close to my heart. So, obviously I had to be moved by this event. I've never seen anything else like this, either. The sheer shamelessness, the sheer cruelty, the sheer contrast between the employee who tried his best (and even went above and beyond expectations), and the higher-ups who decided to blame all their own failures on him. You could almost feel them going "how far can we take abusing this guy? All the way!". The coordination between all those people; just the sheer scope and duration of the conspiracy is also insane.

Though this situation contains the usual attempt of big corpos to extract as much profit from their workers as possible (they still haven't paid Mick for his additional music time), I think it also shows us important things. Namely how easy it is for psychopaths to gain high power positions and then use those positions to abuse others for the sake of it. It shows us how much leverage capitalists have on workers. They can create impossible demands, withhold payments, enforce horrible conditions, ruin our reputations and attempt to use law and money to shut us up when we dare to complain. It show us that the libertarian narrative of employment necessarily being "beneficial for both sides" is a total joke. We are very lucky Mick decided to come forward; if he didn't, then Marty's imagination would have become the accepted version of events, and the real truth would be lost for all eternity like in the Miles Edgeworth games. I suspect he's one of the rare ones who did, because surely these kinds of situations are common. Mick's kind of a big name, and could afford lawyers and the reputation hit; someone smaller would surely just take the money - actually, I'd expect the threats alone to suffice then. I still think Mick's response was kind of weak; he should have gone public after the first bribe attempt at the latest; but oh well, it could have been much worse. Anyway, what was Bethesda's reaction to all of this? This (archive) (MozArchive):

We reject the distortion of the truth and selective presentation of incomplete "facts". We stand ready with full and complete documented evidence to disclose in an appropriate venue as needed.

Hahaha. The appropriate venue is right here, so where is the evidence?

Miles Edgeworth calling someone out for playing mindgames

Mental health

Capitalist definitions of worth

When a child is born, its empty, innocent mind starts to be filled with capitalist definitions of worth that consist of "having more, newer stuff". Even if the parents try their hardest to instill some other teachings (but why would they, when that is what is reinforced in their own brains every day?), the real world will quickly verify that. When the child goes to school, it will see that its richer peers are treated better due to the expensive stuff they have on them. Statistics prove (archive) (MozArchive) poor children are more likely to be bullied - In India poorer children were 12 percentage points more likely to be physically bullied and 19 percentage points more likely to be verbally bullied than the least poor children. Example quote showing the kind of bullying poor children suffer from:

I went to school barefoot because my shoes were torn apart. Then students laughed at me, and some of them insulted me calling me a “poor boy”.

Even if your situation is not as bad, it will be easily detected that you're poor sooner or later, and you will suffer. 'School trips are becoming so expensive, I can't afford for my children to go' (archive) (MozArchive). And that child who does not go on trips will be known as the "student who can't afford trips" and be alienated. You can just imagine the kind of stress this will create in the family, and it doesn't end there. How to make it seem like our child is rich even though it's not? How to make it respected? Expensive clothes, newest smartphones, jewelry...poverty can't be hidden in the end. Though some schools have tried to combat the issue (archive) (MozArchive) by, for example, banning certain brands of clothes - that is totally not the way to go. As said, there are thousands of ways to show off your good financial situation. The real problem here is the capitalist culture, equating your worth to the things you have.

This continues way into adulthood and massively increases depression rates. Capitalism has created a dog-eat-dog world where instead of people working together, you have one person trying to prove she's better than the other (according to the capitalist definitions of worth) - while the system keeps fucking us all. Being jealous of Facebook friends 'leads to depression' (archive) (MozArchive):

Facebook members were particularly stressed when their friends posted pictures of luxurious holidays, or used the social network to boast about new houses or expensive cars, the study found.

From another article - Heavy social media users 'trapped in endless cycle of depression' (archive) (MozArchive):

“People who engage in a lot of social media use may feel they are not living up to the idealised portraits of life that other people tend to present in their profiles.

Of course, it's all fake in the end - just like most of our capitalist society. People try to put up their best impressions, and it is easier online than in real life. All of this is fueled by the advertising companies alleging you are inadequate if you don't have their newest product. Worst of all, people who are the most vulnerable are particularly targeted, destroying their already poor mental state: Facebook research targeted insecure youth, leaked documents show (archive) (MozArchive) - This information, which Facebook calls “sentiment analysis” could be used by advertisers to target young teenager when they are potentially more vulnerable. And as advertising gets more advanced while people lose more and more jobs (due to automation), the situation will just get worse and worse. Recall the prognosis that 800 million people will lose their jobs in 10 years. That means increasing homelessness, and that group has a high rate of depression (archive) (MozArchive) - A Toronto study found that 66% of people experiencing homelessness experienced serious depression sometime in their lifetime, and 56% did so in the past year. And as long as the capitalist "I have it better than you, haha" culture is here, no one will help them - instead they will be alienated even more.

Workplace conditions

The alternative - having a job - is often not much better. The average American spends 47 hours a week (archive) (MozArchive) at work; and Long work hours increased mortality by nearly 20 percent according to this article (archive) (MozArchive). From there, we can also glean some other useful information, for example:

Bad workplace conditions decrease mental health

Job security is of course reduced by increased automation. That also causes unemployment, which then in turn leads to Work-family conflict (and I have personal examples proving that that happens). High job demands are also affected by unemployment, since a worker who slacks off can be easily kicked out (after all, there are a bunch of others to replace him). And with high job demands comes this (archive) (MozArchive):

A recent investigation revealed that emergency services were called on at least 189 occasions for attempts at suicide, suicidal thoughts, and other types of mental health episodes at Amazon warehouses during a five-year period. The incidents occurred at 46 different Amazon warehouses across 17 states. The accounts are troubling, with 911 calls detailing people trying to cut and kill themselves.

People are literally killing themselves over Amazon work conditions.

In 2011, reports emerged that the company hired ambulance crews to wait outside on hot days for workers who experienced problems related to the heat as they tried to keep up with demanding production requirements. A local ER doctor who had treated some employees for heat stress actually reported it as an “unsafe environment” to OSHA, who stepped in and gave them corrective steps.

But Amazon would have none of these "reports":

A year later, the Seattle Times reported that the underpaid, overworked employees at a warehouse in Campbellsville said they were pressured to manage their injuries in ways that wouldn’t trigger an OSHA report – for example, by claiming to medical personnel that their workplace injuries were actually due to pre-existing conditions.

And of course, you'd better not stand up to them or you will be kicked out (or perhaps, replaced by a robot?). Amazon has also tried to lock their workers up in cages (archive) (MozArchive), but fortunately gave up on that idea. Many jobs, however, are already very close to being like that - such as bank tellers, cashiers, etc. And the people having those jobs usually have no other choice. Other jobs come with their own stresses, such as enduring traffic jams, being recorded by cameras at all times, having to be on the phone also at all times (even during "free" days), models being forced to take extreme measures (archive) (MozArchive) to lose weight, pornstars being humiliated and abused (archive) (MozArchive), being bullied by the boss (archive) (MozArchive) and I could go on and on. Almost as if the whole job system existed to ruin people's mental health in any way possible.

Physical health

The same kind of chart as above was also applied to physical health:

Bad workplace conditions decrease physical health

But since we've already discussed those issues, let's move on to some other - perhaps more relevant - factors affecting people's health:

Health effects of junk food

Let's start with the foods people are eating, which is surely the biggest factor affecting their health. Or, in the words of The Wheel of Health - it is food and food only. So, when your food is defective, this is what happens:

And lots, LOTS more. Pretty much every disease and dysfunction you can think of has been linked to the consumption of junk food - so, that is the main factor destroying people's health. But why? What makes "junk food" do what it does?

Anatomy of a junk food

What makes junk food, actually junk? Let's take a widely accepted junk food - the Cheetos crisps - to the chopping block, and try to deduce the properties that a junk food has:

Nutritional label for Cheetos

Low nutrition of junk food

The two main ingredients are corn and vegetable (really seed) oil. The corn is of course the refined kind, meaning it has about 1 / 4 of the nutrients compared to its whole counterpart. The oils are even worse, as they are basically just fats (empty calories) with all the minerals, vitamins, fibers, and phytochemicals of the original seed stripped away (archive) (MozArchive).

Milk - the third biggest ingredient in the Cheetos - is also significantly degraded by processing. It's not a big component of Cheetos percentage-wise (since it's just used for seasoning, AKA flavor), but for educational reasons, it will still be useful to see just how much nutrients you'd lose if it was. Okay, so, the pasteurization of milk (archive) (MozArchive) almost completely destroys its Vitamin A content:

A 56% loss of vitamin D and a 95% loss of vitamin A content was noted after 7 d from the continuous turbulent flow UV processing, but this loss was equally comparable to that found with traditional thermal processing, such as HTST and UHT.

And significantly reduces (local) its Vitamin B1 and B12 levels:

20 and 30% losses in vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin B12 can occur during UHT treatment

As well as its Vitamin C and folic acid levels (does the nightmare ever end?):

The levels of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and folic acid are markedly reduced in UHT milk containing a significant level of oxygen during UHT processing and storage

In another study (archive) (MozArchive), 30 minutes of pasteurization fully wiped out two out of three enzymes tested, with the remaining one being decreased by 15%. Enzymes are what digests your food, and there are indications that we are deficient in them (MozArchive) and this results in disease. Now, this type of pasteurization isn't usually used (as far as I can see), but still - your junk foods will be baked or fried before they enter the shelf, meaning whatever milk enzymes might have survived the initial heat treatment, will surely be gone after the second one.

This isn't even the full extent of milk processing that's done before it ends up in your cookie, milk chocolate, etc. There's also the drying, separation, and reconstitution (archive) (MozArchive), and it's creepy to see just how much high tech machinery is involved. Who also knows what all this does to the nutrition or if it results in the creation of undesirable substances.

Anyway, the problems with the junk foods should already be apparent. Let's consider some physiology. The human body requires nutrients to function. If you fail to give it any one of the myriad needed substances for a long enough time, you will start getting the relevant deficiency diseases (archive) (MozArchive). And it is clear we're not going to receive much nutrition from the junk foods. Why is that?

Well, the junk foods are optimized for being eaten, not for being health-promoting. And businesses will use the cheapest ingredients available to accomplish that feat. It should be obvious from the fact that not only we're getting the cheapest grains in our junk foods (wheat and corn, usually - and never something like buckwheat) - they're also refined. The same rule applies to oils, where the better ones (like coconut or olive, which have safer fats and / or more nutrients remaining) are never used, because of their way higher costs.

Junk food toxicity

Let's use the aforementioned seed oils as a simple example. First of all, they contain a dangerous type of fat (MozArchive) called a "trans fat":

The trans contents were between 0.56% and 4.2% of the total fatty acids.

These types of fats do not exist in nature in this form, therefore should be viewed with suspicion by default. Anything you eat that contains the seed oils will be contaminated with them, because the process with which the oils are made, creates them:

Seed oil extraction process

Even though safer processes are possible, they are never used (local):

The overwhelming majority of all vegetable oil is extracted using solvent extraction. The advantage of solvent extraction is the high yield that can be obtained economically with this method (>99 wt.%), but this is at the expense of a reduced oil quality [...]

Quality sacrificed for the ability to create more sellable product. Business as usual for the profit dragon. Anyway, these fats are linked to heart and other diseases (archive) (MozArchive):

A 2% increase in the energy intake from trans fatty acids was associated with a 23% increase in the incidence of coronary heart disease
the adverse effects of trans fatty acids were seen even when intake was really low, only 3% of total daily energy intake (20-60 calories), about 2-7 g for a person consuming 2000 calories

And they are contained in real life items in problematic amounts. Check out this analysis (archive) (MozArchive) of some snacks available in Serbian stores:

The trans-FAs elaidic (C18:1 - 9t) and linolelaidic FAs (18:2 - 9t, 12t) were identified in 66 % of the products. The flips products had the highest average t-FAs content (16.3 %), followed by flips group (9.3 %). Potential t-FAs intake from 100 g of analyzed products was in range 0.1–4.9 g

I was really hoping someone out there had actually examined the sold products, so that I wouldn't have to rely exclusively on indirect evidence. Well, there you go. Assuming the average package of Serbian snacks had 2.5g trans fat (middle of the range), that would be enough to increase your risk of disease (remember, 2-7g per day does that). And that's just with one small snack package per day, easily ingested by your regular junk food enthusiast. If you added up the cookies, fries, etc he's going to eat that day, he'd easily hit the upper range of the danger zone. Meaning junk food toxicity isn't just an abstract problem, but a real danger for millions of people out there. Though they've only analysed the trans fat levels, I'm sure there are many other harmful things hiding in those snacks. Actually, we know there are, because when the junk foods are baked or fried, the polyunsaturated fats (the majority of common seed oils) in them turn into extremely dangerous compounds (archive) (MozArchive):

Previous NMR-based investigations focused on the peroxidative degradation of culinary oil UFAs during standard frying practices [...] have demonstrated the thermally-promoted generation of very high levels of highly toxic aldehydes and their hydroperoxide precursors in such products

And they hurt you in these ways:

effects on critical metabolic pathways (for example, energy metabolism); the promotion and perpetuation of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases; mutagenic and carcinogenic properties; teratogenic actions (embryo malformations during pregnancy); the exertion of striking pro-inflammatory effects; the induction of gastropathic properties (peptic ulcers) following dietary ingestion; neurotoxic actions, particularly for 4-hydroxy-trans-2-nonenal (HNE) and -hexenal (HHE); and impaired vasorelaxation coupled with the adverse stimulation of significant increases in systolic blood pressure.

And you ingest this stuff every time you eat your cookies, crisps, burgers, fries, croissants, etc... Please pay attention to the during standard frying practices part - it means the results can't be dismissed as just an artifact of the laboratory environment. It's affecting every confectionery enthusiast or restaurant goer, out there. And the seed oils are only one of the common ingredients we've examined. Oh, and it's impossible to know the full extent of the damage caused by food processing, because the detection techniques are imperfect (you should be suspicious of any laboratory food modification process by default). The companies also do not have to tell you exactly what they're doing to their foods. They could be refrying in the same oil, which would shoot up the damage through the roof (archive) (MozArchive).

And hey, I didn't even touch on the toxins that are directly added, instead of generated during processing. Looking back at the nutritional label for the Cheetos, this mysterious "Yellow 6" thing stands out. It's what gives the crisps their characteristic shiny color. But does it have any bad health effects? Not at all, move along! See, the food industry cares about your health, and wouldn't include a harmful additive just to make its creations look more attractive. Hahaha... just kidding (local):

However, Kent J. Davis, an FDA veterinarian, attributed “tears, eye lid encrustations, pannus [corneal inflammation], and corneal opacity approaching blindness” to ingestion of Yellow 6
Yellow 6 may be contaminated with several carcinogens, including benzidine and 4‐aminobiphenyl. The FDA set a limit of 1 part per billion (ppb) of free benzidine, but some batches of dye have contained a hundred or even a thousand times as much bound benzidine, which is likely liberated in the colon
Symptoms of a hypersensitivity reaction included urticaria; angioedema of lips, eyes, or face; reddening of the eyes; sweating; increased tear secretion; nasal congestion; sneezing; rhinitis (runny nose); hoarseness; wheezing; and a variety of subjective symptoms.

Strike one - blindness. Strike two - cancer. Strike three - allergic reactions, meaning get this toxic crap out of my face! Though we don't usually hear about these effects from the media, it only gives an illusion of safety because something like cancer develops over decades and almost certainly wouldn't be connected to the dye. Remember - also - that you can only detect a kind of damage if you bother to look for it. And there have only been a few studies done on Yellow 6 (and they are all from the 70s and 80s...), which certainly don't tell the full story. What if it kills your liver or gives you diabetes after 20 years of ingestion, but no one has looked? Many people eat the junk foods in high amounts day after day, with different dyes constantly entering the body with unknown long term cumulative effects. The same document indicts - for example - Yellow 5 for being mutagenic. So it's quite possible that many years of constant ingestion of those dyes will result in issues that aren't found in studies testing only one of them and not even tracking anything except the carcinogenicity and a few other things. Who also knows about any possible environmental impacts after those things or their metabolites are ultimately pissed out.

Anyway - to recap - we have so far two reasons why junk food is bad: the nutrient destruction and toxin creation. Can we hang them for something else yet? Yes!

Making junk food addictive

The junk is addictive! Of course, the toxicity or lack of nutrition wouldn't even matter if the stuff didn't sell. But it does sell. It has to. Why? Because of this (archive) (MozArchive):

In studies done on mice [...] the breaking point for foods high in sugar and fat were a step below cocaine. Animals are literally willing to work almost as hard to get either one.
But, interestingly enough, cocaine [ and the foods we’re talking about ] don’t cause the brain to curb its dopamine response at all.

So, in terms of the addiction potential, junk food is just as effective as cocaine. How do the food giants accomplish this? Like this (archive) (MozArchive):

"I was totally surprised," he said. "I spent time with the top scientists at the largest companies in this country and it's amazing how much math and science and regression analysis and energy they put into finding the very perfect amount of salt, sugar and fat in their products that will send us over the moon, and will send their products flying off the shelves and have us buy more, eat more and …make more money for them."

This is where the corn or wheat and oils come forward. It's just the cheapest way to provide a lot of starch and fat while also providing the necessary structure:

There’s more science in that melty orange snack than you might believe. Frito Lay employs a team of 500 chemists, psychologists and technicians at a research plant near Dallas for a cost of $30 million a year to create the perfect crunch, mouth feel and aroma for their products. Frito Lay also has a $40,000 device that simulates a chewing mouth to create the perfect ‘break point’ of a chip. It turns out people like about four pounds of pressure per square inch. Cheetos are one of the most engineered products on the planet, designed specifically to make the brain say ‘more’. The Cheetos’ ability to melt in the mouth is called ‘vanishing caloric density’. If something melts quickly, the brain thinks there’s no calories so you keep eating until you’re finished the bag.

Here (archive) (MozArchive) is what an insider working for 15 years at many of the food giants has said:

"There were certainly times that I felt uncomfortable or troubled by what I was doing," he said. "I think that’s ultimately one of the reasons why I left the industry. As you start to get glimpses of products and you understand better how consumers are using them, and then you see trends like obesity and health issues that are increasing, mainly driven by the food we eat, it was hard for me not to just take a more thorough assessment of what I was doing."

So, it finally hit this guy that his "work" has been harming people, so he left his job and actually started a blog criticizing his previous occupation. Another issue fueling the consumption of junk food is their ubiquitous advertising (archive) (MozArchive):

Bright boxes of snacks and cereals featuring familiar characters line the shelves, often at the child’s eye-level. On television, children’s programming is interrupted by commercials for junk food. [...] Food companies market products in movies, video games, toys, clothing, websites and other merchandising

Not to mention buses or just randomly placed billboards. I've even seen them on flyers in hospitals (!). Some statistics from the same article:

So, the industry uses four tactics to ensure you're eating their food: First, they make it addictive with a combination of structure, amounts of sugar / salt / fat and "flavour enhancers". Second, they have their restaurants everywhere - there are 152000 fast food outlets (archive) (MozArchive) in the United States. Taking their population into account (328,608,560), it means one per 2186 people - and only one cinema per 8136 - almost 4 times less. Third, as explained in the Shopping section - even in regular stores, the junk food is put into places where you can't avoid it for the longest time. And fourth, they advertise it everywhere they can and as much as they can.

Anyway, the entire junk food situation might really be the most vile thing capitalism did, basically reverse engineering the human brain to figure out what criteria it uses to judge foods as quality, then shamelessly exploiting that with the perfectly prepared items. It is like being attracted by the computer generated woman with perfect, but totally unrealistic proportions. Please realize that - in the jungle - the ingredients that are abundant today, are very rare and in demand. What I mean is mostly energy, which is the limiting factor for survival in nature. The energy that the junk food provides in spades, in the form of sugar / starch and fat together - a combination that doesn't really exist in the wild. That's why the brain desires it so much. Imagine the monkey, that eats leaves for most of the day, working tirelessly to receive an amount of energy that will allow it to survive. Now imagine, that the monkey finds a cookie with lots of easily available energy. Energy that would take the monkey hours to acquire, otherwise. The monkey would of course go crazy for the cookie. Just like the human.

The problem is, that with the junk food, bad things come along for the energy ride. Namely the toxicity and lack of nutrition. In the wild, there is no problem finding nutrients because everything has them. The average wild animal consumes way more nutrients than it theoretically needs. The junk food is stripped of nutrients because it doesn't need to have them to accomplish its goal - to get you to eat it. In fact, too much of something like fiber would ruin the structure and decrease the addictive potential. And the nutrients lost in the processing of grains, etc. can then be resold elsewhere, like in animal feeding. The point is to create the food that will be constantly eaten while incuring as little costs as possible. The junk food industry doesn't care that it's hurting you this way. In fact, it will gladly send you down the medical alley so you can be exploited once more.

Is it enough to avoid junk food?

In a word, no.

A "junk food" is just a colloquial name for a food-like item that is concocted from a bunch of cheap, heavily processed (or even totally synthesized) ingredients, put together in some kind of a high tech laboratory in a way that takes over your brain, then packaged and advertised as shiny and cool, and finally sold for a way higher price than it deserves. But that doesn't mean it's the only problem out there.

Many things that are not usually considered "junk" come along with compromised ingredients (like the oils or artificial sweeteners) or processes (reconstitution). This includes commercial condiments, peanut butter, juices, etc. To be really safe, you should form your diet exclusively out of unmodified, natural ingredients. Then you can eat them raw or boil them if necessary, or make your own juice or butter. You could - also - easily make your own "junk foods" (like pancakes) from higher quality ingredients like whole wheat flour, coconut oil and raw milk, if you feel like you need them. That'd be significantly better than buying ready-made ones, but the frying or baking would still destroy some nutrients and create some toxins. Of course, making all your meals at home is incomparably superior to relying on the Cheetos, but isn't necessarily a guarantee that your diet is going to be quality, overall. There are certain things we need that are found only in raw foods, for example.

But the truth is that - even if you tried hard to construct a health-promoting diet - you wouldn't necessarily reach the desired health effects, because pretty much our entire food supply chain is compromised. Oh, you think you're doing great, because you are getting your five (or whatever) servings of fruit and vegetables per day? Guess what (archive) (MozArchive):

They studied U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits, finding “reliable declines” in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over the past half century.
A Kushi Institute analysis of nutrient data from 1975 to 1997 found that average calcium levels in 12 fresh vegetables dropped 27 percent; iron levels 37 percent; vitamin A levels 21 percent, and vitamin C levels 30 percent.

Even though the authors realize why the situation is what it is:

Davis and his colleagues chalk up this declining nutritional content to the preponderance of agricultural practices designed to improve traits (size, growth rate, pest resistance) other than nutrition.

They stop right before the finish line by not mentioning that those things are just proxies for the profit motive. Capitalists optimized for what made them rich while sacrificing the health of the consumers and long term environmental maintenance. This applies to all of food production, like keeping cows or pigs in small enclosed spaces and feeding them cheap, but unnatural diets. Did you know that fats from animals raised outside actually contain a lot of Vitamin D (archive) (MozArchive)? We have a pandemic of Vitamin D deficiency - but if we didn't stray from proper food production processes, it might have never happened. Did you know that plants actually contain Vitamin B12 if grown through proper methods? How many vegans could have been saved from the horrible neurological diseases they've gotten because of lacking this crucial nutrient? Even the fact that your produce is lying in a store for however long, before you buy it and eat it, decreases the nutrients in it. Not to mention the dangerous pesticides (archive) (MozArchive) that are commonly found in regular store items. The profit dragon ate the entire food supply chain and sacrificed the health of the world for it. And the problem will keep getting worse as new ways to cut corners - such as artificial meat - are found.

Other health-destroying things

Why do we have water and air pollution? Because the capitalists must dump their waste products somewhere. 5G WiFi and the widespread usage of cellphones are just the result of blindly following the capitalist notion of progress. People smoke due to the stress of living in a capitalist society and even non-smokers have to suffer with them. So, as we can see, capitalism ruins our health in many ways. Note: some of those items listed might also have causes other than the profit motive; namely the numbing of people by fluoride and the addictive substances makes people easier to control and less likely to revolt against oppressive governments. But again, profit is still at least partially involved. This is easy to see when you realize what's offered for sick people - "modern" medicine, whose record is abysmal:

The failure of medicine

And again - many, many more. Modern medicine does not cure diseases - seriously, if you search for "diseases cured by medicine" all you get are various infections allegedly wiped out by vaccinations. But no chronic disease, certainly. And the reason for that is it's not profitable. What is, on the other hand? Producing drugs, doing surgery, scaring people into useless and dangerous screenings (archive) (MozArchive). In fact, if a medicine causes another disease or there is a complication after surgery it's even better - more profit for the capitalists, since now the sick person has to do more drugs and procedures. The goal is to keep the patient alive - but dependent on the medical system - for as long as possible.

Every so often, you hear news saying that a cancer cure is just around the corner. However, modern medicine has pocketed 100 billion $ (archive) (MozArchive) from cancer drugs in 2014. Do you think they would just give up all those profits? There is no chance of seeing a cancer cure from those "researchers"; "cancer funds" are pretty much a fraud and the scammers are laughing their way to the bank. Hey, look, they've even said the quiet part out loud (archive) (MozArchive) - Is curing patients a sustainable business model?:

"While this proposition carries tremendous value for patients and society, it could represent a challenge for genome medicine developers looking for sustained cash flow."
"GILD is a case in point, where the success of its hepatitis C franchise has gradually exhausted the available pool of treatable patients,"
"In the case of infectious diseases such as hepatitis C, curing existing patients also decreases the number of carriers able to transmit the virus to new patients, thus the incident pool also declines … Where an incident pool remains stable (eg, in cancer) the potential for a cure poses less risk to the sustainability of a franchise."

Medical companies are really angry at anything that would actually make people healthy, because it would decrease their pool of treatable patients and thus kill profits forever (I don't necessarily endorse those treatments; just wanted to show the attitude). Another similar example: Aspirin seen costing pensions $100 billion as lifespans increase (archive) (MozArchive).

What a disgusting headline, first of all. Here we have something that (allegedly) cures cancer and increases lifespan and the first thing the writer worries about is "how much more money we are going to waste on the oldies". In a sane world, the headline would be "Aspirin cures cancer and lengthens lifespan, and that's FUCKING AMAZING!" with none of the "but our precious profits!" crap even mentioned in the article. But instead we get this:

The pension costs for men in the U.K. could rise by 0.7% within 20 years if more people begin taking aspirin daily, according to a statement by Risk Management Solutions Inc. this week.
Employers and governments are grappling with obligations to retirees as low bond yields make it harder to generate returns on funds set aside for the benefits.

Capitalism ensures that cheap and effective remedies will get shoved aside in favor of expensive and not very effective - or even dangerous - ones. Now, aspirin is still technically a medical drug, and so still provides profit for the medical companies and still isn't the comprehensive health intervention that's needed. I am certainly not shilling aspirin as some kind of a cure-all; just - again - using it as an example of the attitude of medical companies towards something too cheap or too effective for their liking. This situation also shows how - after reaching the retirement age - you are supposed to expire as quickly as possible so that you don't suck up too many resources. That's your reward for 40+ years of devotion to working for your nation. It's also the reason for the recent increases in the retirement age of some European countries. Do you now understand why capitalism is so cancerous? It judges everything - even human life - in terms of profits gained or lost. There is nothing sacred in capitalism, and in fact it makes long life and good health become burdens instead of blessings. This is also why all the food, air, water, etc. was made to be so toxic - guaranteeing a steady influx of patients. And so, the junk food and the other health destroying things send people to the medical mill, which grinds them down and makes huge profits on their expense. It all seems like it's been designed that way.

The final piece of the puzzle is how the alternatives to modern medicine are so hated in the mainstream. Since they are alleged to be cheaper, more effective, and safer - they're going to threaten the profits of modern medicine - so of course they must become targets. Modern medicine has taken over the legal system and the media to protect its monopoly on healing. This is why websites or product labels are prohibited from making health claims that haven't been approved by a government agency (that's in the pocket of medical companies). This is why all the mainstream health websites - when writing about alternative remedies - include disclaimers such as "don't take this without the doctor's approval" or "this doesn't really do anything / isn't a replacement for medicine" (archive) (MozArchive). This is also one of the reasons why all other treatments for COVID were buried in favor of the vaccines. And it's why many of the most effective alternative therapies have either been made illegal (archive) (MozArchive) or have had disinformation campaigns run on them. What the medical mafia hates the most is the idea of the patient taking charge of his own health. They want him inside the medical mill that will abuse him with expensive drugs, screenings and procedures that will squeeze him for millions and eventually bring his demise. Don't get me wrong - "natural medicine" is also an industry and you can find scammers there as well - but at least they don't persecute or kill their opponents (archive) (MozArchive). In the end - for true health to be cultivated - it has to become completely divorced from the profit motive.

Capitalism paywalls crucial health knowledge

A few weeks back, someone sent me a lore video from a game called Talos Principle that I had no idea about and didn't care about, but I watched it anyway. And I took notice of one particular sentence from the story introduction, which went something like "knowledge belongs to all of humanity". And I was like, "not in capitalism, though that would be beautiful". That sent me on a thought adventure in which I had to realize just how bad it gets in the real world. There are millions of people right now suffering from serious - maybe terminal - diseases, and which cannot be helped by mainstream medicine (a problem I've talked about before). Yet, outside of that, there are independent researchers who found out things (or compiled things found out by others), that could help the sick. Unfortunately, very often they only give you the basic information and then send you to their book or paywalled part of their website. Or - if it's a study - you might have to shell out up to fourty dollars for a single one. Which is very unlikely to provide all the information needed to cure yourself, anyway - at best a small piece, at worst nothing and you've wasted your money. Then, you get more desperate and angry at having to decide between your health (and maybe life) and spending money on yet another book / study / website (all while time is running out). In an emotionally and ethically advanced world, this should never have to be a decision. Yet I'm sure there is at least one person out there who has died because she couldn't access the needed information, which is horrible to think about.

I realize - of course - that there are piracy, libraries, paywall busting addons, etc. providing free access to the required resources. But not everyone can use those and they don't fix the problem at the root, anyway. In capitalism, the researcher expects to be rewarded for his efforts with money, and the given tools decrease his earnings. It needs to be realized that if 100% of people used those, then the researchers would have no motivation to do anything, and all their efforts would eventually stop. It's always funny for me to see people being pro-piracy but also pro-"free market", when those are totally incompatible positions. The only reason piracy and - say - entertainment production can coexist, is that only a small percentage of people decide to sail the high seas. With a sizable enough amount of pirates, the profits would go down too much and the corporations creating the movies, games, etc would have to do layoffs and eventually die. It's a bandage similar to adblockers, whose effectiveness relies on most people not using them, as well. The pirate - by being a pirate - is also admitting to being a commie :D.

To kill two birds with one stone, we need to divorce research from funding. Ideally, the sick person would get access to all the resources needed, and the researcher would be rewarded by the respect received from the people he'd be helping (or even simply the satisfaction of being the one to crack the riddle of some disease). Since the post-capitalist world would give everyone the necessities unconditionally, the researchers wouldn't have to worry about "earning a living", and the sick would have no need to decide which resource to spend their money on. The researchers - in fact - could begin to collaborate, which would surely result in better quality health information. Instead, every one of them has to pretend they have something big and unique, waste effort on shilling attempts, and then do the Electronic Arts dance so that people spend more money. And when that happens, knowledge suffers. Many of those people are not even researchers, just grifters who jump into the latest fad hoping to cash out before it evaporates. Such as the ones stealing and repackaging Ray Peat's views (archive) (MozArchive) in simplified ways, with a sprinkle of dark patterns, perfectly showcasing the kinds of behaviors that are rewarded in capitalism. This and similar trash floods the search engines, making it harder for the sick to actually find good information. The desperation of the sick provides an easily accessible set of antelopes for the capitalist crocodiles to feast on. Sure, there are a few researchers out there who don't really care about getting rich this way. But, those are the exact ones who will not focus on getting popular, and will be always on the fringes.

The environment

Waste products

The amount of waste products generated by the capitalist civilization is unimaginable. Most of what has a package will have it be thrown away immediately upon opening (video game collections, etc aside), and packages are often a lot bigger than the products inside them (this is to create the impression of there being more product inside). In the EU, the combined amount of packaging waste per person in 2016 was 169.7 kilograms (archive) (MozArchive). This means almost half a kilogram per person per day just from packaging. Recycling does not fix the problem (archive) (MozArchive). So, all these packagings are left for the Earth to deal with, causing untold environmental damage (archive) (MozArchive), including directly killing animals and poisoning rivers. And precious few products can be bought without a packaging at all - mainly some clothes and...okay, let's look at that first.

Cloth production is the second most environmentally harmful industry (archive) (MozArchive):

Fashion is a complicated business involving long and varied chains of production spanning over many stakeholders and continents including the processes for raw material, textile manufacturing, clothing construction, shipping, retail, use and ultimate disposal of the garment. A general assessment must take into account not only obvious pollutants - the pesticides used in cotton farming, the toxic dyes used in manufacturing and the astounding amount of waste created by discarded clothing – but also the excessive amount of natural resources used in extraction, farming, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, and shipping.

The dyes alone cause massive environmental pollution (archive) (MozArchive):

Dyes can remain in the environment for an extended period of time, because of high thermal and photo stability. For instance, the half-life of hydrolysed Reactive Blue 19 is about 46 years at pH 7 and 25 °C.
Mathur et. al. studied the mutagenicity of textile dyes [...] and the influence on the health of textile dyeing workers and the environment. [...] The results clearly indicated that most of the used dyes are highly mutagenic.

Cotton is resource demanding:

While cotton, especially organic cotton, might seem like a smart choice, it can still take more than 5,000 gallons of water to manufacture just a T-shirt and a pair of jeans

All while there are massive water shortages (archive) (MozArchive) in the world:

Today, 785 million people – 1 in 9 – lack access to safe water [...]

Artificial materials come with their own issues:

The production of polyester for example, uses nearly 70 million barrels of oil each year.

That shiny new jacket you just bought includes the usual blood, sweat and tears of the worker who made it:

We are talking about young woman sitting on assembly lines sometimes in inhumane conditions for exhausting and soul-destroying working hours, 7 days a week earning next to nothing.

Of course, it also had to be transported (archive) (MozArchive) to where you are:

Globalization means that your shirt likely traveled halfway around the world in a container ship fueled by the dirtiest of fossil fuels.

And that applies to pretty much every industry, since the vast majority of production these days is controlled by a few big corpos (archive) (MozArchive) shipping to every place in the world. What's the reply (archive) (MozArchive) of the business world?

H&M's CEO Karl-Johan Persson said, "In order to remain a successful business, we need to keep growing and at the same time respect the planetary boundaries."

Ha ha, that's impossible of course. Either you have growth or reduce waste - and capitalism always leans towards uncontrolled growth.

But real change in the clothing industry will only come if the big, affordable brands find a way to make and sell sustainable clothing.

Actually, real change will come when we stop buying and selling, buying and selling so much. It will be hard to do when pretty much our entire civilization is based on this idea. Consider all the marketing we're bombarded with every day (especially the new and more horrible influencer marketing (archive) (MozArchive), where the "friends" you follow on social media are bought by companies to try to shove you stuff), and the notion that how much we have determines our value, especially if they are "premium items". Sustainable clothing is just a desperate attempt of the big businesses who have been exposed as evil to save their existences. "We'll do better now! We'll use 5% organic cotton! But please, keep buying!". Regardless of what the business attempts to do to save their image, the profit dragon must be satisfied and it's satisfied only by selling as many clothes as possible. And as long as that's the case, there will be issues:

The items would still have to be transported to shops, which causes pollution. The dyes would still end up in seas and hurt the creatures there. There'd still be issues with worker abuse. Advertisements would still pollute the streets. There's no perfect way to recycle things and even if there was, it'd still be horribly inefficient; people would still have to work at the recycling places (a job that could be eliminated or at least reduced if people didn't buy so much) and turn the trashed things into materials that will be made into clothes again, marketed and resold for yet more profit to the big businesses. And it all relies on people actually giving their wasted clothes back for recycling instead of just throwing them away (and most don't (archive) (MozArchive) - Only about 15% of used clothes and other textiles in the United States get reused or recycled). The only way to fix the issue is at the root, meaning to stop buying so much and let the big, affordable brands - that have caused all the problems - die. And the businesses are predictably doing everything they can to distract from the fact that it's business itself that's the problem.

Anyway, we could cover other industries that generate waste - for example electronics (archive) (MozArchive) or food (archive) (MozArchive) - but there are even bigger examples of capitalist environmental destruction. Namely, deforestation and genetically modified food. So let's move on to those, starting with the first one:

Deforestation

So what is deforestation? Simply, cutting off trees so that the land can be used for something else. What effects does it have? Animals are forced into smaller (or already occupied) areas, (possibly leading to their extinction - archive (MozArchive)). Even water-dwellers are affected (archive) (MozArchive). If you thought people would be spared, you'd be wrong (archive) (MozArchive):

Ten years ago, the Cambodian government granted 20,000 hectares (49,000 acres) of land to a Thai company to plant sugarcane. But this land was not empty. Six hundred families were already living on it, growing rice and vegetables and foraging food and other goods from the nearby community forest. Over the next few years, the company cut down more than half the forest. While conducting evictions, staff and security forces looted rice fields and demolished or burned more than 300 homes. Many people lost their land and all their belongings.

Guess what happens if the people resist? They get murdered (archive) (MozArchive):

According to Global Witness’ Defenders of the Earth report, nearly 40% of the defenders of human rights who died were indigenous peoples defending their rights to their land and the environment. [...] The shocking figures that are available are likely to be underestimates. In the Colombian case, the public ombudsman reported more than 100 killings of human rights defenders in 2016 and a further 52 deaths in the first six months of 2017.

But hey, this is just numbers and those don't tell the full story, so let's hear it from the affected people themselves:

Oil palm, pulp and paper plantations are creating health and environmental crises for our communities. Children are sick from the forest fires. Deforestation and land drainage are making water scarce and there are food shortages. People are being pushed off the land, which is becoming concentrated in the hands of large companies. Inequality is growing. Selfsufficiency is being lost. People are being forced into exploitative work for the companies.
Our lands are now like small islands of forest surrounded by deforested land. The soybean farmers spray pesticides from aircraft. The poison damages our crops. We sometimes suffer hunger. It pains us to see our land and water sources inside the private properties of Brazilians. These places are sacred to us…Our forests are being destroyed and our waters are being polluted.

The People are being forced into exploitative work for the companies. part is telling. Isn't that the goal of capitalism? The more people as cogs in the profit machine, the better. Anyway, how does deforestation actually happen?

As you can see, all the causes are related to out-of-control capitalism. Soybeans are used as feed for factory-farmed chickens. Chocolate is a pure fantasy, resulting from the big corpos trying to develop the most addictive foods possible. Oil mostly fuels our overusage of cars. New furniture is simply a symptom of the same kind of capitalist notions of worth as new clothes or phones. Gold is sold for high prices, and despite the risks associated with mining, people still do it because they need money and job opportunities are drying up. Anyway, animals and forests can recover (archive) (MozArchive) and waste dumped will sooner or later be dealt with by nature (even if it takes millions of years after humanity has wiped itself out by its own stupidity). The only thing capable of permanently destroying all life on Earth are...

Genetically modified organisms

Read the book Seeds of Deception. I will keep this section short, since I don't want to go on a rant about the evils of GM that has already been done better. Though I think it's mostly about some people's insane desire to play God, GM food did earn a lot of money for companies, so it deserves a section here, as well.

Miscellaneous

Shopping / product quality

The entire store-shopping experience is tightly controlled to fuel endless consumption. Let's start with the free samples being given away sometimes. The word will quickly spread that a certain store is giving out free samples and more people will be coming there. They might be compelled to buy more of the product then, when otherwise they would never have looked at it. I mean, do you think the capitalists would give away stuff just for nothing? No way - actually, it is scientifically proven that free samples are an effective way to increase sales:

Free samples increase sales

This information comes from a massive paper (local) called An Assessment of When, Where and Under What Conditions In-Store Sampling is Most Effective (which I didn't fully read - just lifted the picture, really). Surely, the capitalists must have access to that data - they wouldn't leave anything to chance; after all, profit must be made in the end. Another way to accomplish that is the "put candy at the checkout" strategy. It's called "impulse buying" and the way it works is: you're waiting in line and in your field of view is a bunch of various snacks. Eventually a temptation will appear and you will buy one of them even though you didn't really want to. After that, the addictive nature of these foods will keep you coming back. One study (MozArchive) has said: the checkout zone generated a sales return of €35,000 ($47,000) per square meter – seven times above the average for the entire store. So it is very profitable indeed. And self-checkout kills the profit: https://www.pymnts.com/restaurant-technology/2017/confectionery-companies-the-other-unintended-casualty-of-self-checkout/ (archive) (MozArchive) - We’ve done a number of studies. It’s billions of dollars since self-checkout started in 1992. The merchandising side has to come back and chase this thing.

The average time spent grocery shopping – not including time spent getting to and from the store – is 41 minutes. That is 41 minutes of haivng your brain filled with advertisements (some stores even have those huge screens at checkout - but sound-based ones are worse, since you can't just avoid looking at them). Of course, the ads are not limited to stores themselves - they're all over the place. They put them on billboards, buses, flats, TV channels. It seems all space exists now solely to fill your mind with bullshit. The ads themselves are not simply made according to someone's whim, of course - it's all carefully calculated, for maximum profit extraction. An entire field of science called marketing science (archive) (MozArchive) has even been spawned for just this purpose. Some quotes:

What combination of marketing inputs (positioning, messages, media advertising expenditures, distribution channels, new products, sales organization, etc.) will maximize long-term sales revenue or profitability?
What combination of positioning, themes, imagery, music, and colors creates the most effective advertising for a company or brand?
How can these design variables be manipulated to maximize market share or profitability?
How can the direct marketing to each of these target segments be optimized?
What are the optimal number and type of salespeople to maximize market share or profitability?
The goal is not to maximize customer satisfaction (no company can afford that), but to optimize customer satisfaction and/or loyalty.

And many, many more. As you can see, every little fucking thing is taken into account. So the next time you encounter an advertisement, keep in mind it was most likely made according to these guidelines. The last one in particular is a gem - it shows that capitalism doesn't give a shit about customer satisfaction. This is also proven by the fact that products are made to break - for example batteries (archive) (MozArchive) or clothes (archive) (MozArchive). Of course, since there is a new summer collection coming out in a few months, you don't need your current one to last, do you? What, you mean you can fix your old stuff? Companies are intentionally making it increasingly harder to do so, for example Sony (archive) (MozArchive), Apple (archive) (MozArchive), and tractor producers (archive) (MozArchive). I remember being annoyed when I tried to unscrew my Nintendo DS Lite and couldn't with any of my screwdrivers. Then I learned that they've made a specific screwdriver just for it. Of course, if profit at all costs is the goal, this kind of practice will be the standard.

UPDATE March 2023: hey, they even have price displays down to a science. Look:

Showing manipulation of price displays by capitalists

Scary, isn't it? Try to see if your store is using those tactics.

Internet content creation

This is something that has annoyed me for ages, but I guess today's attempt to shill me some bullshit I don't care about finally broke me enough to make me complain about it. Please people, don't you see how primitive this is? We come back from our schools or jobs or trips, tired and wanting to unwind by watching video game analysis or whatever. And then - in the middle of the content we care about - we are being shoved into some shitty card or tank game. We know the video authors don't care about the game, we know they're faking it all for the purpose of graciously receiving some drips from the big business money faucet - and yet we tolerate it. How the fuck is any of this ethical or desirable? It could even be considered a form of dark patterns; some of the people involved got quite creative in disguising their ads as organic parts of their videos. But I just feel bad for them, really. The content creators are forced to sign a contract, a legally binding document that can be used to fuck them over later. And with it, they become slaves to the company, since they can't say what they want about the product they shill, anymore. By the way, this also applies to written content, and the situation there is even worse. Look at the E-mail I received recently:

Hey

I'd like to COOPERATE WITH YOU. We are interested in PUBLISHING A GUEST POST with a relevant article that will fit your site with our link on digdeeper.neocities.org. Our main REQUIREMENTS:

  * At least 2+ DO FOLLOW links in the article
* Link will be PERMANENT,
* The article or the links will NOT BE MARKED as Sponsored / UGC / Guest post / sponsored post,
  * Do you also accept LINK INSERTIONS in existing posts? If yes, what is the price?
* What niches are you not allow in your website? If you have a different price for them, please write.
* Do you have any more requirements?

If you have a similar website for guest posts, let me know also.  Hope to hear from you soon.

If you don't want me to send you more emails, please reply and unsubscribe.

Best regards, [name redacted]

This is not the first time I've got one like that, either. Of course, I did not accept this offer, but I assume most people lack my ethics and will jump onto the opportunity to earn a little money (to their readers' detriment). The emphasized part is the most important. It means that you can't know whether what you're reading is the opinion of the author, or some asshole who has sent some money down their way. They want to use the popularity and reputation of your favorite content creators to shove you some useless products or propaganda - and without that clause, the trick obviously wouldn't work. It's fraud and it's evil, pure and simple. And no, I don't mind revealing the message of this scammer. Please, if you receive this kind of E-mail, reject it and tell the fraudster to shove his attempt up his ass. The puny money you're going to earn won't help you much, while the sin will weigh you down heavily for the rest of your life, and likely send you down the path of evil. Don't assume your response doesn't matter even if you're only a teenager writing a blogpost once a month in an unknown corner of the Internet. Do put your one brick towards making this world a fortress of honesty.

There is another dimension to this problem. If you want reach, you need to use YouTube or other big platforms. But those have massive lists of what's not allowed on them, pretty much being weapons for the elites to keep their power. If I got a dollar for every time I saw a YouTuber complain about being "demonetized" because they touched a taboo topic, I'd be very rich today (not really but you get the point). If you're really "bad" at following the whims of the elites, they will just kick you out. YouTube also promotes and buries certain kinds of content; this is why you see so many videos with those "emotional" faces as thumbnails - the algorithm promotes them. Of course, if you rely on ad money, you need the views - and if you want the views, you need to follow the algorithm. How creepy it is that a program controls what we're "supposed" to share or not; what will be seen a lot and what won't at all. How big is the amount of power wielded by whoever controls the algorithm and can change what's "trending" with the press of a button? How great would it be if everyone had an opportunity to be creative without having to care about what's accepted or not, without being pressured to create more and more content to stay ahead of the other guy (and inevitably burn out)? That's the world we can get if the profit motive disappears.

Sports

Another type of entertainment ruined by capitalism.

Funding by evil companies

Let's first consider what makes high-level sports even possible - huge sponsorships such as from car companies, airlines, credit card companies, watch companies, and even fucking vaccine companies (archive) (MozArchive). The problem should be very obvious, especially for the last one. So, sports exist only due to the money from these giant unethical corporations. Whenever you watch sports on TV or in a stadium, you will be subjected to the flashy ads from those companies for the entirety of the game. The players themselves are also sponsored (archive) (MozArchive) by those - that is where much of their massive earnings comes from:

The current number twelve in the ATP world rankings concluded a top-class sponsorship contract with the renowned sporting goods manufacturer Nike, which, according to Adam Riese, will bring the Italian 15 million US dollars a year.

Top-heavy distribution of earnings

However, only the very top can really benefit from the big corpo money drip. No commercial entity wants to waste money on players that are never seen on TV and that don't bring butts to the stadium. And that is why - for example - tennis players outside of the top 100 literally struggle to make it (archive) (MozArchive). Traveling, coaching and equipment is a significant cost, and small tournaments just don't pay a lot:

Futures tournaments can be of a high standard with guys ranked as high at 190 in the world playing them. Even with winning the whole tournament, a lot of the time the prize money earned will not even cover costs for the week!

It's a bit of a catch-22. You need to be extremely good at tennis to earn a lot of money from it. But, to reach that level, you need that initial money to even get to tournaments, and to get a team:

In order to break through from the Challenger Tour to the ATP Tour, you need to be able to win consistently at Challenger Tour level and very seldomly do I see a player who is doing this without help.

The only way out of this is getting a sponsor, somehow (but again, who will sponsor an unknown?) or just being so good as to leave the universe no option but to let you reach the top:

If you don’t have a lot of money but do have a lot of passion, then the only way forward is to beat everyone else you play.

This sieve leaves out even very good players (archive) (MozArchive). That's because pro sports are designed to funnel money to the very top sports stars (those who make money for the big businessmen), while leaving everyone else on ice. And it's all built on exploiting you - the fanboy - by the companies who shove you ads and get you to buy their overpriced products advertised by your favorite sports star. As well as other things we'll talk about later.

Widespread use of performance enhancing substances

Of course - since the players want to enter the elite circle that can sustain a luxurious lifestyle - they will seek anything that might get them there. Such as performance enhancing drugs (e.g steroid hormones to increase muscle mass, or erythropoetin to improve endurance by increasing the amount of blood you have). In theory, those are banned in most sports. But of course, whether anything comes out of it depends on how good the enforcement is. Meaning you have to regularly test whether the players actually have those substances in their bodies. How seriously is this taken? Let's look at tennis (archive) (MozArchive), again:

“In the village I live in in Switzerland, the tester lives in the same village, so if’s very convenient,” he said, smiling. “If he’s bored at home, he probably just says, ‘Let me check in on Roger to see if he’s having a good time.’”

Hahaha. So Roger Federer's friend is doing the testing, and we are supposed to think he'd bust Federer on a positive result? What a joke. But it gets worse; it seems it's even allowed to hide (archive) (MozArchive) from the testers when they come knocking:

Serena Williams went into total lockdown last week -- fleeing to a panic room inside her L.A. mansion after security cameras picked up a suspected intruder [...]
[...] the person on Serena's security camera was a random drug tester for an unspecified tennis association, stopping by Serena's pad unannounced for some pee

Of course, the entirety of the media just repeated the same "scared of a burglar" story, instead of the obvious explanation - namely that Serena hid herself because she knew she'd have failed the doping test at that moment.

It's unclear if Serena eventually submitted to a pee test. Attempts to reach her reps were unsuccessful.

Hahaha. Zero chance she took the test. Stop covering it up! About that, it turns out that even the courts (archive) (MozArchive) are compromised when it comes to doping violations:

Judge Julia Patricia Santamaria rejected a request by the World Anti-Doping Agency and the country’s national anti-doping organisation to hand over some 211 bags of blood and plasma [...]
but she frustrated anti-doping officials by ruling that all evidence relating to the case, right down to the computers used during the Operation Puerto investigation, would be destroyed

So, this Eufemiano Fuentes guy ran a doping operation that included athletes from football, ­tennis, athletics and boxing - and they all got off scot-free, because the blood samples that would have exposed them, have been trashed instead. I mean, imagine all the big names that were Fuentes' clients. Imagine all the sports that would have their reputations tarnished and profits slashed if this went public. There's no way that could be allowed to happen, since after all, it's the big sports stars that carry the sports. But - to perform at the highest level (the one that puts the butts in stadiums and in front of the TVs) - they need their juice. Both sides benefit from this arrangement, so you can't expect the issues to get corrected. The side that loses is - of course - the lower tier player who can't afford doping, and the fan who expects honest competition. Sometimes lip service is paid to the idea of clean sports by making an example of some small fish, because it would be quite suspicious if no one ever got caught. But it's just theater designed to cover up the rampant cheating at the highest levels of every sport out there.

Rigged draws

Another way the profit motive is compromising the integrity of sports is by rigging draws. It's been shown that in tennis, during the 2008-2011 time period, grand slam draws have been rigged to produce Federer-Nadal matches in finals - which would have brought the biggest crowds and thus the most money, as those were the most popular players back then. You might be wondering how this could have happened. Why hasn't anyone investigated? Well, who was supposed to? The biggest institutions were all benefitting from this. And the sports fanboy simply enjoyed the show with his favorite stars, without even considering the inherent fakery. Many of the more involved fanboys, that go on the internet to talk, will just call you a conspiracy theorist for even suggesting this possibility. Surely the draw rigging continued later in other ways, but I have not dug into the particulars.

The draws are actually unfair fundamentally (even without rigging for specific matches) because they unjustifiably give preferential treatment to the top players, by not letting them meet another top player until the later stages of the tournament. This ensures that - even if the top player isn't playing too well - he can keep reaching the later stages of the tournaments by beating up weaklings and not lose too many ranking points until he recovers his form. Someone who's trying to rise up in the rankings - then - would have a really hard time since he's always going to face someone much stronger early on. Meaning that the top spots are basically locked in for the people that currently have them unless something really serious - like long term injury or doping ban - happens (hey, isn't that basically real life on a micro scale?). The fix for this would be totally random draws, where the two highest ranked players might possibly meet in the first round where one of them will inevitably be eliminated and will not keep grabbing points just because of his name. While a rising up guy might manage to reach QF or so if he lucks out and gets three other weaklings and get a boost to his career instead of getting predictably cockblocked by a current top 10 or so player. But of course, this is never going to happen as the big QFs, SFs and obviously finals between the top stars put the butts in front of the TVs and inside stadiums. It's the only way that makes logical and ethical sense though - your skill and skill alone carries you through the tournament, and not your big name or previous achievements.

Rigging matches and the abuse by betting companies

Matches themselves can also be rigged. An investigation revealed 380 fixed football matches (archive) (MozArchive) in Europe, as well as 300 more on other continents. Tennis is another sport that suffers, and nothing would be done if certain players weren't willing to rat the fixers out (archive) (MozArchive). Of course, the reason matches are fixed in the first place is the fact that you can bet on matches and earn money if you get it right. So, a player can bet against himself, then throw a match. This is quite the attractive option for the lower tier player, but it does turn sports into a circus similar to wrestling.

The betting companies - at whom you can bet on the matches - actually sponsor top football clubs such as Real Madrid and Barcelona (archive) (MozArchive) and Manchester City (archive) (MozArchive). Even entire leagues (archive) (MozArchive) have bookmaker backings. So - even though betting destroys sports as seen above - the sports cannot separate themselves from it as the betting companies provide the money required to fund the popular sports stars. The analogy of the beaten wife who comes back to her husband because she's dependent on him financially seems relevant again. Anyone watching a match will be subjected to seeing a bunch of ads for the betting companies, and might succumb to betting where the capitalist wins in the end (unless - again - he has some knowledge of a fixed match). So high level sports again reveal themselves as being sustained by exploitation, the squeezing dry of the naive bettor who hopes he will be rich one day.

Patriotic pride in local players or clubs

Many people derive pride from being fans of their city's or country's football club, since well...that's just something you're supposed to do, right? But how are the clubs actually connected to the towns they're in? You're lucky if your club has even two players from the town it resides in - and many will be simply imported from other countries (archive) (MozArchive). Local teams cannot really exist since they rely on the money earned from selling their best players to the richer clubs. Not only that, most of them are just experiments for businessmen (archive) (MozArchive) to get rich on, and they're sold and bought like used shoes. Even the club "rivalries" are fake since players routinely leave for the rival clubs. Perhaps my favorite example of this is when the Polish midfielder Krzysztof Mączyński left his childhood club Wisła Kraków (archive) (MozArchive) in favor of the hated (by fans) bigger club Legia Warszawa. And that after promising he'd never do it a few months earlier. He was called a Judas by Wisła's fans after the move. Wisła's Twitter even added fuel to the fire by saying:

Na drobną złośliwość pozwolił sobie też sam klub za pośrednictwem mediów społecznościowych. Zachęcając kibiców do kupna biletu na Twitterze wiślacy zapewniali, że przy Reymonta 22 "upieką chleb bez mąki".

Translation:

The club also let itself launch a small jab (towards Mączyński) through social media. Trying to entice the fans to buy tickets, the club used Twitter to assure that near Reymont's street (where Wisła's stadium stands) they will "bake the bread without the flour". ("the flour" - nickname of the transfered player)

But of course, the transfer happened with full agreement of both clubs (Wisła got paid hundreds of thousands of euros for this flour), so this was just an attempt to manipulate the fanboy. Next match between the clubs? Full attendance. So, the fanboys' anger brought them to the stadium so they could scream at the "traitor" who very happily grabbed the bigger money and possibility to earn trophies. The transfer worked for all the sides except the fanboy whose attachment got beautifully exploited. This situation shows once again how the profit motive kills all higher values, such as loyalty.

Being a sports star SUCKS!

Oh, and if you happen to think that life is all sunshine and roses for the big sports stars, you might want to reevaluate that position. The requirement to dope to perform at the highest levels has already been mentioned; this means having to pay big money to access the stuff and to hire people who will ensure you're doing it safely and help you avoid detection. It means possibly sacrificing your health for fame and glory, and forcing any sports player with hopes and dreams to pick one or the other. It means having to evaluate exactly what your dietary supplements contain, lest they be contaminated with one of the hundreds of banned substances (responsibility falls on the player, always). It means staying up to date with whatever the relevant organizations deem as performance enhancing. If you fail this, you end up like Maria Sharapova, commonly considered "the devil" by your usual sports fanboy because she kept using a medical drug after it suddenly ended up on the banned list. Even though everyone at the top level is doing much more serious things, they are just being more dilligent in avoiding detection. In my opinion - since the top level sports are all already obvious dope-fests - they should just give up the pretense of cleaning them up. Just let anyone use anything and let the fans watch the beasts they really want to. At least this way, there would be one less lie in pro sports and one less big cost (of testing the players) to pay. But of course, this won't happen. The entire fortress of pro sports stands on a foundation of lies. The fanboys have to believe the sports stars are some kind of heroes, in hopes that they will look up to the heroes, and go watch them at the stadium, and buy their merchandise.

Let's see what are some other things absolutely forbidden for sports (tennis in this case) players, to keep that hero narrative going:

I really hate this "fines as behavioral control" phenomenon. And it's the existence of money that enables it to happen. It also disgusts me how the media keeps assassinating people's characters like it's nothing, with phrases like inappropriate, rants, obscene, outbursts, meltdowns (and countless other inflammatory ones) repeated authoritatively across different outlets. And if you want to say "but the players are doing bad things, they need to be punished somehow! Kids are hurt / given bad role models! Referees need to be respected! Etc etc. It's about morals, see?". First of all, the things for which the players are fined for are not that bad, really. The "kids" will see much worse things every day of their lives. The media's character assassinations are actually much worse than the things the players are routinely fined for, and it never receives any punishments. It's also pointless to pretend that the sports stars are some kind of heavenly beings that lack the human qualities, especially on the battlefield of the tennis court (or boxing ring, etc). But there is an even easier way to completely destroy any moral justification for the avalanche of fines the sports stars are being buried under:

The sports stars are being followed around by the media and have to answer its ridiculous, insulting questions day in and day out. If they refuse, they get fined (archive) (MozArchive) (of course):

Naomi Osaka today chose not to honour her contractual media obligations. The Roland-Garros referee has therefore issued her a $15,000 fine [...]

And threatened with eviction from the biggest tournaments if they continue:

As might be expected, repeat violations attract tougher sanctions including default from the tournament [...] and future Grand Slam suspensions

The reason Osaka didn't want to submit to the interviews in the first place, was her mental health (archive) (MozArchive):

I’m writing this to say I’m not going to do any press during Roland Garros [...] I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health and this rings true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one. We are often sat there and asked questions that we’ve been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds and I’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me

And so - regardless of the bad effects of all this media stalking on the stars' mental health - the sports organizations decide to keep going through with it. Meaning it's not really about any moral concerns at all. Then what is it about?

The sports star is a product perfectly molded for mass consumption - like the big, juicy, spotless apple in the store. She exists to stand there and perform athletic feats for hours per match, a few days per week, all year. Then after the match - with blood, sweat and tears still dripping out - she has to submit to media probing. She cannot be allowed to do anything that might discourage the sports fanboy from watching the relevant sport - as that would cut into the profits. If that requires ripping out all the humanity from her, then so be it. The sports star is - in fact - a circus animal, or a work animal. But worse, as those are at least treated with certain amounts of respect and care, so that they are able perform their duties properly. As a sports star, every single wrong move of your finger gets you punished, punished and punished some more. Holy shit! Screw the fame! Screw the glory! Screw being "set for life"! I'd never, ever consider this career.

But, I think the problem here goes deeper than "the sports stars need to put butts in the stadium and bring us a lot of money" - though this is a significant part of it. The people who end up on top of the sports organizations, etc. are power hungry psychopaths - and for them, the human is nothing but a toy. So they derive enjoyment from holding a whip over the sports star and threatening a hit for the smallest deviation from her prescription. They don't care about the feelings of someone like Osaka; if her masters order an interview, then an interview she will give, her mental destruction be damned. "I can punish this animal for this, and that, and mold it in whatever way I want to, and nothing will ever happen to me! Hahaha!". Villains like this really exist in this world, not just in the books or games. Still, it is hard to see how such an arrangement would be possible if money didn't exist. As the psychos in charge of sports organizations would have no "carrot" to motivate the stars into submission.

Summary

To fix the issues with sports, just get rid of the profit motive. No need to dope and possibly destroy your health if there is no reward of the magic item known as money. You can still bet for fun, but the exploitative basis disappears. There are no ads, no bullshit products being shoved, no rigged draws since there doesn't need to be a push for the biggest audience. Just pure beautiful competition. One big issue with money not existing in terms of sports might be that not many people might want to dedicate their entire lives to playing a sport and doing the preparations, etc. if they can't become rich and powerful because of it. Though, fame and glory could be a goal, still. And, maybe popping this over-inflated balloon known as pro sports would be a positive in itself, since it forms one half of the "bread and circus" used to control people. Maybe more people could instead take up a sport themselves, and become their own heroes instead of looking up to some doped up beast on TV. And imagine, what kind of lifestyles we could all lead, if the resource sink of pro sports finally exploded.

How to fix?

First of all, we need to attack property #1 and just give everyone the basics necessary to live - housing, food, water and medical care. If you have a knee-jerk reaction against this, consider if you haven't perhaps been brainwashed into the jungle mindset shilled by the rich elites. The same rich elites that want you to be under pressure at all times so that you will do their bidding for survival. This is the modern slavery. On the other hand, when survival is guaranteed, issues like having to sell yourself into prostitution, etc. just to live, disappear. This should simply be a given in an emotionally developed world. Then, if someone wants a higher standard of living, he can do jobs or other ways of involving themselves in society. Or maybe we can just give up the concept of material rewards completely; I suspect everyone can already have mostly everything he needs regardless, as long as we stop being so wasteful and drop the culture of oneupmanship. I think the fact that survival is not guaranteed in this society, makes people more likely to hoard stuff as a defense mechanism. It's a self perpetuating cycle of abuse.

If you are worried about resource availability for this, don't be. NASA has spent $116.5 billion dollars (archive) (MozArchive) on the fake moon landing. Assuming an average American worked 40 years, his earnings would be 67521 (archive) (MozArchive) * 40 (presumed years of working) = 2700840 US dollars in a life. This is 43135 times less than what has been spent on the fake moon landing. The fake moon landing could have paid for 43135 people to never work. And it's just one of the many bullshit costs we have in the current world. Consider the torture chamber for children, the useless wars, the advertisements, "fighting COVID" in a way that doesn't work - and I'm sure you'll see how we can easily fund this. Besides, it shouldn't be a question of if we can; we have to - otherwise, how can we consider ourselves better than animals, if we cannot even guarantee a comfortable life for our fellow humans?

You might be worried that people would become too lazy from all those damn handouts, and there won't be anyone to do the work required. First of all - as David Graeber (RIP) has nicely elucidated - many jobs don't actually need to be done (archive) (MozArchive). And he didn't even go far enough, considering how many of them could already be replaced by automation to a significant degree. The culture of "jobs jobs jobs!" is yet another stupidity brought by the jungle mindset that requires everyone to justify their own existences. Besides, UBI studies have proven (archive) (MozArchive) that those horrible handouts don't decrease people's willingness to get a job:

Unemployment for those in the UBI experiment remained at basically the same levels as for the control group.

I just have to point out the disgusting headline that tries to make UBI look as bad as possible, saying how it makes people not more likely to get a job - but fails to mention that it doesn't make them less likely to get one, either. Clearly a hit piece attempt, but at least it gives us the evidence required.

But is this enough to fix the problems with money and the profit motive? Obviously not, since properties #2, #3 and #4 still allow "the game" to be played with anything except the things that have been guaranteed (and even then, "better" houses, foods, etc would still be items on "the market"). The profit motive still ruins the sports, the games, the everything else other than the basics in this case. We could try using the iron hammer of the state to ban doing "bad things" with money, which is a lot better than leaving it all up to the "free market". There are a few problems with this setup though, namely that - if fines are the punishment for wrongdoings - the big corporations just take them on the chin and keep moving. It is also very inefficient to try to detect every violation, set up a lawsuit, wait months for its conclusion (which will not necessarily be positive) - all while hundreds of new violations have popped up during that time. It is a whack-a-mole game where the moles multiply every second, and where each swing of the hammer is extremely energy-intensive and not even guaranteed to hit the target.

It is obvious to me that money has to be completely eliminated; it is the fact that every item, every act, everything ever is put on "the market" with a numerical value that is the problem (property #2). Regardless of how "sacred" you think something is, someone out there will try to monetize it if it will bring him more power, a better standard of living and / or guarantee his survival. And then, that thing will be made a shell of itself, like everything else the profit dragon has swallowed. Or, you yourself might be forced to monetize your organs / give up your body for prostitution / become an animal locked in a cage performing tricks, etc. just to live. So, kill the profit dragon before it eats everything. The only possibly comparable solution I can think of is wealth caps; this will heavily limit the amount of power you can gain with money, and will demotivate the biggest psychopaths since at some point, doing more evil to try to gain more power will be fruitless. This still rewards mild psychopathy though; and depending on how high the cap is, might not be that effective. Some might also try to bypass the limits by using mules (the homeless, family members, etc) to keep their money in several bank accounts; or use crypto, cash, etc. Therefore, a surveillance state might be required to keep this up; but even without it, hoarding and abusing power would be a lot harder, so this might still be something to try.

For now...cut your consumption!

You do not need a new computer (MozArchive) - a 15 year old one will work perfectly fine for anything other than the newest games (you can still play hundreds of classics from the 90s and early 2000s, and adding thousands more through emulators, filling several lifetimes). You do not need new clothes at all; you probably already have everything you need - and if not, you can often find better and many times cheaper stuff in the used cloth shops. You do not need new furniture. You do not need cigarettes or alcohol. You do not need a bunch of cosmetics or expensive bags. You do not need to visit overpriced restaurants to be fulfilled; make your own dishes. Repair your stuff instead of throwing it away at the smallest sign of damage. Do more with less! Learn to find meaning in creation, friendship or challenge (of which anticonsumption can be one) - instead of cramming down product after product like the advertisements want you to. People often criticize me for offering no solutions - well, here is your solution that you can do all alone. Are you badass enough to take me up on this? Try to go a month while buying only food. Then make anticonsumption a part of your identity. Let it all collapse! We cannot fix capitalism while it has its tentacles all over us. At least, until we can implement changes that are more systemic.

What does anticonsumption actually accomplish? Well, we starve the beasts known as big businesses, and they hopefully die - taking with them all the evil stuff I've listed in the report above. A lot of people would lose their jobs this way, which would force us to realize how broken the current system fundamentally is - and fix it. There is no need to shove everyone into a job when the jobs do not need to be done. But since unemployment would skyrocket through anticonsumption, we'd have to install UBI or do something even deeper like deprecating money or taking back the physical infrastructure from the evil people currently in charge. Either way, we could then have a world based on something other than working and buying products and the associated exploitation and cultural ruin. For all the complaining about a "bad economy", let's realize that "the economy" simply means people buying and selling more stuff - which is a positive for the businesses' earnings, but not necessarily for regular people who have to work more to support those lifestyles. Anticonsumption also heavily reduces environmental damage and keeps advertisements from polluting the streets. Here's proof it works (archive) (MozArchive):

Amazon will have eliminated 27,000 positions in recent months, or 9% of its roughly 300,000-strong corporate workforce.
The latest cuts focus on Amazon's highly-profitable cloud and advertising divisions, once seen as untouchable until economic concerns led business customers to scrutinize their spending.

If you scrutinize your spending, the big corpos get starved and die. Then we get a society that is based on something more fulfilling than working, buying, and selling endlessly while the beasts get fat and destroy the world at our expense. Become a hero and cut your consumption :D. Edit: here's (archive) (MozArchive) proof that cooking your own meals is 2-4 times cheaper than relying on restaurants - which is one easy way to starve the beast.

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