A thought for the day while looking around in TikTok

The other day I was poking around in TikTok to see what it is all about. Came across a quote from Karl Marx that struck a chord.

“There must be something rotten in the very core of a social system which increases its wealth without diminishing its misery.”1

Here we are 164 years later and this observation is perhaps even more telling.

This is particularly so because we are a very rich country. The US has by far the highest per capita GDP among the ten largest economies in the world. We are a very rich country. (data from 2022)

  1. US – $69,287
  2. China – $12,556
  3. Japan – $40,193
  4. Germany – $50,801
  5. UK – $47,334
  6. India – $2,277
  7. France – $43,518
  8. Italy – $35,551
  9. Canada – $52,051
  10. South Korea – $34,757

With just 4.5% of the world’s population, the US represents 26% of the world economy.

But, we are burdened by a national political system owned by the rich and corporations. Our legislative branch is dominated by the constitutionally guaranteed majority in the Senate for rural states. We have a political culture focused on individualism as the highest objective, excepting perhaps the rights of the rich and corporations to set the rules of the game to suit their needs.

Our view of the economy is a fantasy land of ideas about the miracles of the self-regulating market making the optimal decisions about what to invest in. We maintain an absurd faith in market-based medicine in the face of enormous costs and extremely poor results. Every other developed country understands that healthcare is not appropriate to market solutions.

Our military is bloated on an epic scale of obesity, morbidly so. And we are hard put to see that this has actually improved our security.


  1. This appeared in an article Marx wrote for The New York Tribune in 1859