Hypocritial Government Acts in the Name of Profit

A story I heard recently made me think about the country we live in … actually the capitalistic society that revolves around us. There is no doubting that most Americans live to make money, and our whole philosophy on life, politics, foreign policy and domestic policy ultimately streams from our capitalistic nature. The story I heard only further made me think about the hypocrisy that arises from a society having such capitalistic qualities.

Recently, a man in Vancouver sued his crack dealer for negligence. This man was an admitted crack user and was on his way to recovery.

However, he believed that to solve his problems, he should sue the man who was helping bring pain to him. The crack user said that the dealer should not have sold him the drugs, for the dealer was aware of the individual’s addiction. The dealer should have ceased selling because the addiction was bringing harm to the user.

Now, negligence as defined by the courts is any conscious action that affects the well-being of another human. So it seems that the crack user would have viable grounds for his case.

However, I hear in my mind the many readers laughing at this man and me, for believing he should be allowed to sue.

I must admit, it does seem a little ludicrous that a drug addict should sue his dealer for negligence. After all, the drug user is the one who got himself into his mess; he should have no one to blame but himself.

But here is where it gets a little iffy. As absurd as this man’s case seems, one should realize that the federal government of the United States similarly sued a drug dealer for negligence. Only in that case, the company was the tobacco industry.

“”The tobacco industry!”” you say. “”What does that have to do with crack dealers?”” Well, the tobacco industry and its consumers are analogous to the crack dealer litigation. America sued the tobacco industry on the basis that it sells a product that is addictive to its user, and ultimately causes harm.

The government said, just like in the drug user’s case, the tobacco industry was acting negligently when considering the health of its consumers. I pose this question: Why does it seem preposterous when the drug user sues his drug dealer, but not when the government sues the tobacco industry?

Some may argue that the tobacco industry was aware of the effects of nicotine, and thus it increased doses to assure profits from addicted cigarette smokers. This knowledge of the effects of nicotine should be enough cause to stop production for the industry to further research and notify its consumers.

It is this negligence for which the government sues. But this does not show that the drug case is less reasonable than the tobacco case. The drug dealer also relies upon the addictive effects of crack or cocaine to make profits as a dealer.

Again, I wonder why one case seems more rational than the other.

Some also argue that the difference between the two cases is the differentiation in the selling of legal and illegal goods. The tobacco industry sells a legal product, therefore if it is discovered that this product is harmful, the tobacco industry should halt the sale of this product.

Also, the user of the illegal drug is taking a risk in using this drug if he knows it is illegal. He leaves all responsibility to himself, for he is the ultimate determinant.

This argument, however, fails for it does not consider the fact that both of the goods sold are similar in their addictive qualities. Ultimately, both goods are the same substance, for they cause harm and are addictive, and the consumer is taking a risk by using either.

In the end, I wonder when Americans will start owning up to their actions, while preserving the capitalistic nature that has brought us so far? These cases have shown that Americans seem to want both the benefits of capitalism and the freedom and safety provided to us by the Constitution. These benefits include the joys of smoking a cigarette and the profit gained from selling it.

However, with these benefits comes the harm from the smoke and the ultimate lawsuit and attempted suppression of one of America’s oldest and strongest companies. Ultimately, these desires cause hypocrisy to form in our values, as shown with the cases above.

This hypocrisy arises from our acceptance of tobacco companies into American society, for they, like all of us, are in the pursuit of money.

However, when we discover something hazardous about the product, we immediately blame the company. We then allow ourselves to destroy this industry. When the man of Vancouver tries to do the same to his drug dealer, we laugh at him.

In one case, America tells a man to be responsible for his actions, but in the other, America says the company, not the consumer, is to blame. Thus, we become hypocrites whose capitalistic sense drives us to look out for only ourselves and not the well-being of all people.

Ultimately, we must realize that man must stay true to all his brothers and sisters. After all, as John Donne said, “”No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”” So we must care for all man with equality and reason, and not let money decide the fate of our actions.

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