You or someone you know who has recently had the fortune (or curse depending on whom you ask) to become a parent in America, will be aware of the current crisis-level shortage of infant formula. Datasembly reports that the current out-of-stock rate is currently 43%. Meanwhile, Americans are continuing to battle rising prices in an effort to protect their families.
What is the secret to our success? Listening to politicians, mainstream economists and corporations will reveal a complicated answer. It often involves vague answers. “supply-chain issues”Covid-19 was responsible for the deaths, and the war in Ukraine is partly to blame. This is laughable, and most Americans realize that they have been left out in the rain again.
This is the story of how our economy has fallen apart. It shows the problems faced by millions of parents and working families across America. According to an USDA report, Abbott Laboratories produces 43% of the baby formula in America. The remaining 57% are made up of a handful of companies, including Nestle which has a history of mismanagement.
Abbott Nutrition also supplies the bulk of the state Women, Infants and Children Agency’s agencies. The over 1.2 Million infants who are served by WIC can only be served with specific brands. “contract formula.”It is crucial because parents have reported numerous cases of their children falling ill, and even two infant deaths from products manufactured at the Abbott plant in Michigan.
The FDA became aware of numerous crimes and poor health practices in October 2021 when they received a whistleblower’s report. The FDA failed to inspect the facility before January 31, 2022. Recalls were not issued until February 17, 20,22. While the FDA promised it would investigate the matter, the spokesperson said that the manufacturer already had the formula in question. “is not likely the source of infection in the reported cases” “there was not an outbreak caused by products from the facility.”However, the FDA found that there were many violations of health regulations and that baby formula was contaminated with harmful bacteria.
Why did the FDA take so long responding to these revelations and the highly questionable practice described in the whistleblower investigation? What is the point of bringing charges? Is it because nobody is being held accountable? Why is nobody being held responsible? Michigan is still closed. If there’s such high concentration in key markets, like baby formula, then a plant closing and coordinated corner cutting (as described in the whistleblower investigation) will surely impact the lives and livelihoods of many millions of people. In a profit-driven economy, the surplus stock of baby formula isn’t necessary in order to grow the baby formula market. Similar reasoning can also be applied to the shortage of some health products, such as sanitizers or masks, in the aftermath of the Covid epidemic.
The US government has decided what it will do to address these problems and give relief to families. It has unlimited resources to provide military assistance in Somalia and to bail out the wealthy and powerful. It has, however, continued its long-standing policy of not doing anything to assist working people. What should the government do to help working people? First of all, the FDA and Abbott must be held to account for negligence that has led to shortages and deaths, and Abbott’s continued billions in profit. From December 2021 to March 2022, Abbott’s revenues increased by 13.76%, while the company has also spent billions of dollars on stock buybacks instead of fixing their facilities.
Abbott and the other formula companies have been getting away with their predatory activities for years. We need to hold them all accountable. But nationalization might be the best solution. If Abbott’s assets and production facilities were to be nationalized, they could run in the interest of society, communities, and families instead of as a way for a select group of elites to live lives of luxury at the expense of the rest of us. Due to the low advertising and administrative expenses that private companies face, the state might be able to play an important role in manufacturing baby formula at lower costs. It is important that the workers at Abbott are given the opportunity to participate in policy-making, production planning and other aspects of the day. It is important that the state assumes a leading and teaching role, so workers can become better prepared and more capable of managing their own operations. The state-owned company could also push for more affordable prices on similar products, which would have an impact on the record-breaking rate of inflation.
Already, the Biden administration recognized that the free market was failing by invoking Defense Production Act of 1950. This Act gives the federal government wide powers to control the economy during times of crisis and to respond to economic security or national defense issues. This act will require that manufacturers first fulfill orders related to formula ingredients prior to any other orders. This is a step in the right direction, but why did it take this long and why don’t we apply this logic to every other instance where neoliberalism, capitalism, and orthodox economics fails to provide for the people? Some commentators even have the audacity to attack this move as infringing on the “rights of private property”For giving the federal government additional power. We need a government that will fight for We the People against the established economic power and the oligarchs, who keep winning their battles at the cost of ordinary people. A government of this type won’t be led by Biden or Trump, or any other Democrat or Republican, but instead by We the People.
Statements, opinions and views expressed in this column do not reflect those of RT.
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