"Another bacon burger, anyone?"
“If my competitor were drowning, I’d stick a hose in his mouth and turn on the water.”
“…a funny, jowly, canny, barbarous guy who lives in a multimillion-dollar condo on Park Avenue in Manhattan and conveys himself about the planet in a corporate jet and a private yacht. At sixty-seven, he is unrepentant in the face of criticism. He describes himself as a "tough man in a tough business"….."The animal-rights people," he once said, "want to impose a vegetarian's society on the U.S. Most vegetarians I know are neurotic."”
--Jeff Tietz’s description of meat processing magnate, Joseph Luter III (from his Rolling Stone article, “Boss Hog”)
Despite the obvious signs that our nation is declining rapidly and despite the increasing global animosity against us for our greed, excesses, hypocrisy, and belligerence, we US Americans are defiantly “staying the course”. Neither harsh reality nor the ire of the world community has shaken our foundations. Mouthing hollow platitudes about freedom and liberty while supporting a war machine perpetrating genocide in Iraq, we mindlessly buttress a socioeconomic system some of history’s most notable fascists would envy.
While many of us mollify ourselves with the belief that the malevolence of the Bush administration is merely an anomaly in American government, the reality is that the current administration has simply become emboldened enough to dispose of the false mask of benevolence worn tightly by its predecessors.
Let’s face it. We are obsessed with American Capitalism, a system so rotten that it actually encourages, enables, legalizes, and richly rewards pathological degrees of narcissism, greed, competitiveness, and ruthlessness. While millions suffer and die because of us, we cocoon ourselves in impenetrable bubbles of denial and continue feeding our pathetic addictions to fast food, gas guzzling automobiles, American Idol, military domination, video games, the NFL, “righteous” Christianity, and the acquisition of material possessions. Yet we actually expect human beings who are not mentally incapacitated to believe that the United States is a beacon of hope for humanity on a noble quest to spread “freedom and democracy”?
How could one maintain a straight face while asserting that a Constitutional Republic (alleged to be premised on Enlightened principles) could co-exist with such a deeply depraved socioeconomic system?
We’re talking about the system that made the “successes” of men like Ray Kroc and Joseph Luter III possible. Those eager to assuage their guilt or avoid the mental exercise of critical thinking can simply embrace the inane mythology that those who rise to the top of the economic hierarchy in the United States are harmlessly enjoying the fruits of their labor they so richly deserve. Yet for truth seekers, this conclusion reeks with a stench that rivals the pungent stink of Boss Hog’s factory farms (1a).
Since the meat industrial complex represents such a rich example of the abject inhumanity of American Capitalism, corporations like Smithfield Foods and McDonald’s were so instrumental in the growth of this complex, and men like Kroc and Luter profited so handsomely from such a massive entity’s existence, let’s scrutinize the devastation this abominable entity is wreaking upon our fur, feather and scale-bearing cousins, the Earth, and humanity.
According to muck-raking journalist Eric Schlosser, US Americans spent over $110 billion on fast food in the year 2000, more than they did on higher education. Aside from being a tragic indicator of our grossly misplaced priorities, this shocking statistic is an indictment of McDonald’s and its ilk. Ubiquity, affordability, convenience, laboratory-developed great taste, and a capacity to manipulate public opinion that puts Bernays to shame enable fast food giants to spread like noxious weeds, annihilating hapless “mom and pop” competitors like so much “collateral damage” in a US imperialistic invasion.
And what red-blooded American would leave the drive-thru without a Big Mac, chicken nuggets, sausage biscuit, bacon burger, fish sandwich, or some other delightful victual containing meat?
To keep up with the sky-rocketing demand for meat caused by the mass-production and mass consumption of fast food, men like Luter jumped to the fore to pioneer factory farming and “vertical integration” of the industry.
Thanks to corporate behemoths, livestock producing family farms are all but extinct. In the United States, 54% of cattle are raised by 5% of the nation’s farms and corporate entities produce a staggering 98% of our poultry (2).
While many pets in our country receive better care than billions of deeply impoverished humans in developing countries, we consume the flesh, fat, and muscle of sentient beings merely to satiate our carnivorous desires. Compounding this barbarism is the fact that this behavior enriches those who condemn millions of pigs, cattle, fish, and chickens to abbreviated and miserable existences.