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The Tyranny of Profit: Concentration of Wealth, Corporate Globalization, and the Failed US Health Care System

Schroeder, Carole RN, PhD


In this article, I argue that the concentration of wealth and power in the United States and its accompanying ideals of corporate capitalism and globalization are destroying not only the economic security of US families, but also our health care system and the ideals of a participatory democracy. The article is composed of 2 parts. Part I is a portrayal of the US economic and health care system as it is, one that enacts an ideology of never-ending profit, inequality, and exclusion based on class, color, and ability to pay. Initially, I outline the wealth gap in our society and deconstruct the popular myth that most US families benefited from the stock market gains of the 80s and 90s; next I discuss the process of corporatization and globalization of business and the resultant attack on the ideals of participatory democracy. Finally, I briefly trace the history of the corporatization of US health care and outline its impact on costs, access, quality, and population health. Part II is a more philosophical discussion of ways out of the dilemmas portrayed in Part I. Among other things, I discuss how a deepening of our political commitment is needed, a process that entails a move away from the current politics of the Prince toward a politics of the people. This deeper way of living our politics makes every act a political act, enabling us to resist what we are told, denounce that which is unacceptable, unite around common ground, and enact previously unimagined alternatives.

From the University of Washington School of Nursing, Seattle, Wash.

Corresponding author: Carole Schroeder, RN, PhD, 1129 N 81st St, Seattle, WA 98195 (e-mail:

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.