Obligations to Others On Poverty, Death Penalty, Abortion, and War

Few possess the tools of production in today’s society and even fewer actually reap the fruits of this production, this necessarily leads to a unacceptable distribution of goods and services among the people of the country. The unfair distribution of goods and services in our country has led to wide spread inequality on the social scale in the form of substandard educational opportunities, and access to medical care for those outside of the more affluent groups of society. The true extent of the inequalities placed on the heads of the lower classes reach further than education and medical care. The reproductions of lives raised to believe in a limited potential for growth due to the inequalities placed on them by a system that seems to have forgotten its poorer majority manifests themselves in ways that should weigh on the social consciousness heavily. Among these reproductions are wide spread poverty, higher abortion rates in underprivileged communities, and more people on Death Row from underprivileged upbringings than any other. Let’s not forget the popularly known fact that historically the children of the lower classes have died for rich men’s wars in higher numbers than any other. The economic system of this country has made its policies of inequality reflective in the Politics of the government that the people have entrusted to provide social justice. Human avarice must be controlled and the masses of disenfranchised people need to awaken to the harsh reality that those in control of our country don’t care about their obligations to others but are actually consumed in a generational avarice.

                Poverty has plagued the working class since the founding of the country with leaders of enterprise caring so much more for profit than people that we have come to violent conflicts in the past in order to win some measure of justice for the labor sacrificed in the name of profit. One such point of conflict was the Haymarket square massacre where police hired by company owners while dispersing a crowd of protesters fired into the crowd killing at least four and injuring many more people. The Haymarket square massacre happened at the turn of the nineteenth century seemingly long ago, but that date set a president. Our reading on poverty by Peter Singer talks about how governments turn blind eyes to the poor. The history of America is plagued with the overreaching of companies and the abuse of employees from the development of company towns that owned the very homes their employees lived in to the modern day anti-union mega corporations like Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart expects the majority of its employees to work for minimum wage with little or no health care benefits. In addition to this Wal-Mart adds to its resume the support of known human rights abusers by selling their products all of these and more have earned them recognition by “Human Rights Watch.”(3) The idea that it is lawful to employ someone fulltime on anything less than a livable wage really draws a picture of the problem of our society. The working class has indeed been forgotten in the United States along with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s dream of a Great Society. Wal-Mart is only a small part of a big problem in fact they can only exist because of this bigger problem, that problem is the acceptance of the idea that the success of the few is worth the sacrifice of the many in other words it’s a problem with what we deem to be our obligations to others.

                Planned Parenthood is a reactionary solution to a social ill created by the unfair business practices of those in charge of cooperate America and more directly of the policy makers they have in their pockets. “Seventy three percent of Planned Parenthood clinics are located in rural or medically under-served areas, according to the organization’s own data,” (4) most Planned Parenthood clinics are located in low income areas, why is that? These are low income area’s in a Capitalist Society where cash is king; low income area might as well mean low opportunity area. The disillusionment of people subjected to growth in a underprivileged neighborhood who attended the underprivileged public schools and are subject in some cases to the crime of these neighborhoods foster a person who doesn’t exactly believe the teacher when she might say that he or she can be anything they want to be once they are grownup. So when a unforeseen circumstance like a unplanned pregnancy comes about, how is a woman who sees necessity everywhere she turns with no clear way out, supposed to look positively on a already difficult situation, so she does the rational thing and decides to have an abortion. Yes the connection between money and personal life decisions like having children ( as unnatural as I think it is) is there and a very real problem difficult to solve if your already struggling to cloth yourself and are all of a sudden faced with the prospect of having a extra mouth to feed. Abortion is the alternative, its free to those who qualify, your parents don’t even need to know and it’s not easy but at least this way you still have the chance to succeed. ( make enough money to live the life style you want)  This is where the idealization of those who we perceive have satisfied personal avarice comes into play and it may seem crude or of poor taste to put it this so bluntly but our lifestyles are undoubtedly linked to pop culture. I stress, I place no value judgment on Abortion for these reasons and I’m by no means attempting to make light of what is undoubtedly a incredibly difficult situation. Yes abortion happens for other reasons, but these are not of importance to the discussion since we are not debating the legitimacy of abortion but whether socio-economic conditions factor into the decision of actually having a abortion. The example is only used to describe how deep the blade of social inequality cuts; it is the society that shapes us how we react to it is up for debate. But the fact remains that we don’t treat others as equals, and it reflects in every facet of life from national economic policy to foreign policy and even in our personal social spheres.

The inability to shake the idealization of the supposed satisfaction of avarice thought to be found in the upper classes of society has negative effects that eco throughout. It is a tool that some use to help us discriminate and develop the “I”  “thou” relationship that society feeds on. Someone may have grown up in the ghettos of the country but dreams of obtaining success, that same success that the woman who decides to abort is dreaming about.  The dream of making it out of the ghetto and living among the most affluent of the capitalists is the dream that keeps the masses from coming to the collective consciousness that Marx dreamt of, but more than that. The capitalist pipe dream makes the subscriber believe that he/she is a individual, it tells him/her that no matter how bad the situation around him/her is if he/she is smart enough to play by the rules they can become one of the affluent one of the successful. This is how discrimination among the classes is built, no the subscriber sees people who don’t play by the rules as people who will never achieve success. People don’t want to be associated with these members of society we don’t even want to accept them as part of anything that we are a part of, and so we have prisons. Of the three thousand five hundred inmates on death row nearly all of them are poor, how long can society ignore men and women who they might have been playmates at school at some point. Some may say that the death penalty is a necessary evil. Since nineteen seventy six there have one hundred thirty people set free from death row upon proof of innocence, how many innocents have we killed?. Somewhere along the line society swallows the innocence of seen each other as people trying to find our ways through life and perverts us. Society perverts us to the point that we are complacent with rationalized, institutionalized, murder.  

The most extreme and final action of society functioning as a whole is the most disturbing. War unites the nation into what Freud would call hatred of the outsider. This final perversion of humanity and the utter disdain of assuming any responsibility for our obligation to others is war. “Dehumanization occurs across several domains, is facilitated by status, power, and social connection, and results in behaviors like exclusion, violence, and support for violence against others.”(7) In war we dehumanize the enemy so that we can kill them with a diminished weight on the psyche. But to dehumanize more loosely defined as making someone seem less human than your-self or than a pre-established notion of humanity. It is a form of discrimination similar to the discrimination carried out between classes in class warfare. Indeed the price for dehumanization is the same with casualties of both the war of inequality among the masses and in war. This is the most extreme form of perversion of society’s consciousness of their obligations to others because war not only dehumanizes the enemy, it tends to ignore and divide society along those who favor the war effort and those who oppose it, fooling them into thinking that they make a difference. Protesters and supporters in reality are both paying taxes that fund the war effort, in effect turning every transaction into a donation to the war effort. In this way the true injustice is revealed and the underclass becomes again or rather remains the slave of the bourgeoisie all the while helping oppress another people. Proponents of war may argue that defense of the nation is in the common interest of the country; to this I suppose I would ask how many deaths has he/she supported the realization of. The inequality that subscribers to the capitalist dream accept enslaves them and binds them from any true realization of their obligations to others.  

So what are our obligations to others? Our obligations to others cannot be fully defined, but at the very least we should be allowed to partake fully in the fruits of our labor. The inadequate distribution of wealth is as we have seen at the root of many of our social ills. In a society where cash is king a man’s worth is in many if not all instances based on his bank account.  So it falls onto society to come to a level of consciousness where it can safely say that man/woman has an intrinsic worth and deserves rights accordingly. Only until we come to a place where we don’t refuse the best available medical care to the poor and reserve it for the rich in a negation of avarice at least in some instances can we say that we have met our obligations to others.          




1.)    Reiman, Jefferey H. “From Justice, Civilization, and the Death Penalty: Answering van den Haag”    Philosophy and Public affairs, 1985 pgs. 306-312



2.)    Wikipedia ”Haymarket affair” 24, March 2013‎ 



3.)    Human Rights Watch “US:Wal-Mart Denies Workers Basic Rights” Human Rights Watch 1,May2007



4.)    Bassett,Laura”Planned Parenthood Plays Key Role For SomeLow-Income, Rural Uninsured”, Huffington  Post. 25,May 2011



5.)    Johnson, L. Jeffrey “Does a person’s income level affect the likelihood of him/her receiving the death penalty?” ProCon 8,August 2008



6.)    Statistic Brain “Death Penalty Statistics” Static Brain 6,May 2013



7.)    Wiki “dehumanization” Wiki 22,May 2013



3 thoughts on “Obligations to Others On Poverty, Death Penalty, Abortion, and War

  1. I really enjoyed reading your views because there is a threat between all topics which includes poverty. When you went into Planned Parenthood at first you made it sound as if it is an issues to have the program in the underprivileged locations. Do you believe they are there because there is a high demand for them or as you said a temporary solution to prevent so many unwanted babies to be born. If they were equally distributed throughout the United States you might not have them accessible to girls who really need them and lead to illegal unsafe abortions which can lead to both the fetus and mother to die.

    • What I’m aiming at in this section of the paper is to try to illustrate the deep rooted problems the unequal distribution of wealth has. In effect I’m saying that the babies are at least partially unwanted because the mothers may live in an area where the opportunities she sees are limited in such a way that supporting herself with a child my seem impossible and i think that having planned parenthood in these areas is an acknowledgement by the institution that these social issues exist;75% of planned parenthood’s are located in areas where the population is disproportionately Black or Hispanic. The attitude that we have toward bringing children into the world is a negative one fed by our notions of overpopulation and what we deem a desirable lifestyle i think this at the very least deserves to be examined. If we don’t examine the relationship between capitalist avarice and our moral judgment we risk choosing a life we aren’t happy with and lastly it seems a conflict of interest at least to have the United States and Great Britain talk about overpopulation when they contain only about 20% of the worlds population and use 80% of the resources.

  2. I enjoyed your views and feel that you made some valid points. I do though feel that planned parenthood is a big help to woman and young girls out there. there are so many unplanned pregnancies but also so many uneducated woman out ehre needing a place for help. These clinics are not just for aborting babies or enforcing premarital sex, they are there to help and be a supporting hand to those that would otherwise be turned away. Abortion is a sole right of the individual and should not be taken lightly nor deemed faul or irresponsible al together.

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