To grasp the impact of that confusion, think of someone you love. Then recall that if you were to reduce a human body to its elements—oxygen, carbon, phosphorus, copper, sulfur, potassium, magnesium, iodine, and so on—you would end up with a few dollars’ worth of raw materials. But even with inflation, and allowing for the obesity epidemic, this person you cherish still would not fetch as much as ten dollars on the commodities market. A child would fetch less, roughly in proportion to body weight.
Such calculations seem absurd, of course, because none of us would consider dismantling a human being for any amount of money, least of all someone we love. Nor would we entertain the milder suggestion of lopping off someone’s arm or leg and putting it up for sale, even if the limb belonged to our worst enemy. Our objection would not be overcome by the assurance that the person still has another arm, another leg, and seems to be getting along just fine. We’d be likely to say that it’s not acceptable under any circumstances to treat a person as a commodity, worth so much per pound.
And yet this is how our economy treats every portion of the natural world—as a commodity for sale, subject to damage or destruction if enough money can be made from the transaction. Nothing in nature has been spared—not forests, grasslands, wetlands, mountains, rivers, oceans, atmosphere, nor any of the creatures that dwell therein. Nor have human beings been spared. Through its routine practices, this economy subjects people to shoddy products, unsafe working conditions, medical scams, poisoned air and water, propaganda dressed up as journalism, and countless other assaults, all in pursuit of profits."
- Essay in its entirety: http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/6343/