*literal* Vampire capitalism

From mintpressnews.com: ‘Harvesting the Blood of America’s Poor: The Latest Stage of Capitalism’, Blood has become big business in the United States and there is no shortage of corporations ready to exploit America’s most vulnerable populations in order to get a piece of the pie’, Alan Macleod, Nov. 3, 2019

All content at Mint Press News is Creative Commons, but here are some of the most salient & sickening outtakes of MacLeod’s lengthy exposé:

“For much of the world, donating blood is purely an act of solidarity; a civic duty that the healthy perform to aid others in need. The idea of being paid for such an action would be considered bizarre. But in the United States, it is big business. Indeed, in today’s wretched economy, where around 130 million Americans admit an inability to pay for basic needs like food, housing or healthcare, buying and selling blood is of the few booming industries America has left.

The number of collection centers in the United States has more than doubled since 2005 and blood now makes up well over 2 percent of total U.S. exports by value. To put that in perspective, Americans’ blood is now worth more than all exported corn or soy products that cover vast areas of the country’s heartland. The U.S. supplies fully 70 percent of the world’s plasma, mainly because most other countries have banned the practice on ethical and medical grounds. Exports increased by over 13 percent, to $28.6 billion, between 2016 and 2017, and the plasma market is projected to “grow radiantly,” according to one industry report. The majority goes to wealthy European countries; Germany, for example, buys 15 percent of all U.S. blood exports. China and Japan are also key customers.

It is primarily the plasma– a golden liquid that transports proteins and red and white blood cells around the body– that makes it so sought after. Donated blood is crucial in treating medical conditions such as anemia and cancer and is commonly required to perform surgeries. Pregnant women also frequently need transfusions to treat blood loss during childbirth. Like all maturing industries, a few enormous bloodthirsty companies, such as Grifols and CSL, have come to dominate the American market.

But in order to generate such enormous profits, these vampiric corporations consciously target the poorest and most desperate Americans. One study found that the majority of donors in Cleveland generate more than a third of their income from “donating” blood. The money they receive, notes Professor Kathryn Edin of Princeton University, is literally “the lifeblood of the $2 a day poor.” Professor H. Luke Schaefer of the University of Michigan, Edin’s co-author of $2 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, told MintPress News:

The massive increase in blood plasma sales is a result of an inadequate and in many places non-existent cash safety net, combined with an unstable labor market. Our experience is people need the money, that’s the primary reason people show up at plasma centers.”

Almost half of America is broke, and 58 percent of the country is living paycheck to paycheck, with savings of less than $1000. 37 million Americans go to bed hungry, including one-sixth of New Yorkers and almost half of South Bronx residents. And over half a million sleep on the streets on any given night, with many millions more in vehicles or relying on friends or family. It is in this context that millions in the red have turned to selling blood to make ends meet. In a very real sense then, these corporations are harvesting the blood of the poor, literally sucking the life out of them.

MintPress News spoke to a number of Americans who consistently donated plasma. Some of them did not want to be fully identified. But none were under any illusions about the system and how they were being exploited.” [snip]

Zombifying America’s poor

Respondents all agreed that they were indeed being exploited, but in more ways than one. Desperate Americans are allowed to donate twice per week (104 times per year). But losing that much plasma could have serious health consequences, most of which have not been studied Professor Schaefer warns, stressing that more research is necessary. Around 70 percent of donors experience health complications. Donors have a lower protein count in their blood, putting them at greater risk of infections and liver and kidney disorders. Many regulars suffer from near-permanent fatigue and are borderline anemic.” [snip]

(A Maryland plasma center is shown in a promotional image for CSL Plasma, one of the largest corporations dominating the market)

Donors are publicly weighed to make sure they are heavy enough. Obese people are worth more to the bloodthirsty companies as they can safely extract more plasma from them each session (while paying out the same compensation). “They definitely turn you into a product in a very literal sense,” Watkins says; “It’s deeply exploitative and a symptom of just how far gone capitalism is.”

Many centers are enormous, with multiple rows of dozens of machines working in an attempt to appease the insatiable appetite of the vampiric corporation. And there is, according to Watkins, no lack of human “victims” willing to be treated like animals in battery farms, in exchange for a few dollars: “It was an assembly line to extract liquid gold from human mines,” he notes.” [snip]

Exploitation reaches new levels

“But the exploitation of humans has reached new levels in clinics on the U.S.-Mexico border. Every week, thousands of Mexicans enter the U.S. on temporary visas to sell their blood to for-profit pharmaceutical corporations. The practice is banned on health grounds in Mexico but is completely legal north of the border. According to ProPublica, there are at least 43 blood donation centers along the border that prey primarily on Mexican nationals in a legally ambiguous practice.

According to a Swiss documentary on the subject, there are precious few checks on the cleanliness of the blood these companies accept, with some donors interviewed admitting they were drug addicts. But all is sacrificed in the pursuit of dazzling profits, something donors were well aware of.

Andrew from Pennsylvania:

I know my plasma was worth thousands of dollars per donation [to others], because I’ve seen what a hospital in my city charged a hemophiliac for platelets, so the pittance that they pay is ridiculous, but there is only one buyer making offers at the human level. If you’re poor and out of other options, you’ll take $40 however you can get it. Any port in a storm.” [snip]

“Teenager blood is in high demand in, of all places, Silicon Valley, where anti-aging technologies are the latest trend. One company, Ambrosia, charges $8,000 per treatment to aging tech executives, infusing them with the blood of the young, turning these individuals into bloodsuckers in more ways than one. Despite the fact that there is no clinical evidence that the practice has any beneficial effects, business is booming. One committed customer is PayPal co-founder turned Trump surrogate Peter Thiel, who is reportedly spending vast sums of money on funding anti-aging startups. Thiel claims that we have been conned by “the ideology of the inevitability of the death of every individual” and believes that his own immortality may be just around the corner, a notion that has deeply concerned academics and commentators alike.

The new and booming blood market is the perfect embodiment of the late capitalist dystopia modern America has become. The dehumanizing process of harvesting the blood of the poor to fund the quixotic immortality dreams of the super-wealthy turns the former into walking, living zombies and the latter into vampires, feasting on the blood of the young; a true American horror story worthy of Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft. As Rachel from Wisconsin said:

It really is an industry where ‘squeezing blood from stones’ is about as literal as you can get.”

GrifolsPlasma on Twitter: ‘This account’s Tweets are protected.  Only confirmed followers have access to @GrifolsPlasma‘s Tweets and complete profile. Click the “Follow” button to send a follow request.’

Their website: ‘Pride for Donors. Passion for Patients.’, grifolplasma.com/en

Cold Comfort: at least these Vampires can be seen in mirrors: The Swayback – ‘Vampires in the Mirror’

And more are about to go hungry:Nearly 700,000 to lose food stamp benefits under new Trump Administration rule’, Meenakshi Jagadeesan, 5 December 2019, wsws.org  [Read: new unitary executive fiat]

“From April 2020 onwards (when the new rule will take effect), only states that have an official unemployment rate of 6% or above can apply for work waivers. As a comparison, under the current system regions with unemployment rates as low as 2.5% were included in the waived areas. It is anticipated that the new rule will affect about 7% of SNAP recipients, those designated as “Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents” (ABAWD).

A couple things: 1) the official unemployment rates is usually half what the actual rate is; and ii) how many of the uber-poor  even have the wherewithal to get to a medical care facility to prove they’re NOT able-bodied? Back to Jagdeesan:

“The rule aimed at limiting work waivers is tied to two other proposals—one capping deductions for utility allowances, and the other aimed at cutting SNAP benefits for working-class families. A study by the Urban Institute estimates these three proposals combined would cut 3.6 million people from SNAP benefits per month, reduce monthly benefits for millions more, and lead to 982,000 students losing access to reduced-cost or free school meals.”

All new rules to ensure that the currently unemployed can know the ‘dignity of work’.

(cross-posted at caucus99percent.com)

3 responses to “*literal* Vampire capitalism

  1. The disparity and inequality just keeps getting more stark. Read a little about some protests in England starting after news that the five richest families in Britain have more wealth than 12.6 million Brits. People saying this has gone far enough. Well, it’s more than far enough. While the rich get richer, food stamps are cut. Talk about a mind bender. What’s amazing is the support from regular serfs for the oligarchy agenda, particularly on the right. I can imagine people sitting in rundown mobile homes ranting about the liberals and praising anything Trump even when he proposes shit like this. On the other side, those supporting the democratic party and it’s politicians are just as deceived, and culpable because of their support, because it’s all just a tag team effort among those that control the two parties.
    Maybe the only way to get ordinary American’s attention on this unstopping and accelerating wealth inequality, and political power, is to take away their cell phones and send them to Taylor Swift’s personal island.

    • it’s sincerely mind-bending that USians (and well as UK, you say) have permitted this increasingly disgusting level of ‘wealth’ disparity, isn’t it? past time it is; but yes, it’s been a dupoloy effort to create an ever-more-immiserated underclass for a long time, while politicians smile as they deliver the Good News.

      under obomba-rule, most of us never recovered post-2008; trump’s executive fiat re: tax exemptions for the wealthy: did any Ds seriously object? or just offer token resistance?

      i know i’d laugh if i knew who taylor swift is, and what her personal island is…
      ‘throw out the cell phones!…” sounds like a john prine tune. ;-)

    • here ya go, big al:

care to comment? (no registration required)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s