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‘Squid Game’ capitalism comparisons highlight the financial illiteracy, systemic hypocrisy at BuzzFeed

Elamin Abdelmahmoud demonstrates a lot of what’s wrong with Western journalism in his recent contribution to BuzzFeed News, which denounces capitalism as “a global scourge” for everyone all over the world. 

If you’ve missed the piece, “‘Squid Game’ Works Because Capitalism Is A Global Scourge,” [1] let us set the scene for you. 

“Squid Game” is a Korean drama that revolves [2] around people who are in trouble and need money. They compete in simple childhood games for large prizes, sometimes cash, but also for the right to survive – literally.  

“They all deal with inequality, capture the despair of poverty, and dissect class anxiety,” says Abdelmahmoud about the show’s story arcs. “Regardless of the country or language, capitalism is the shared villain in Netflix’s global successes. It’s a villain viewers everywhere can identify.”

Uh, not really. 

Abdelmahmoud uses the TV show distributed by Netflix to denounce capitalism, as if capitalism is just reality game show that never rewards hard work and responsibility, while he misses several ironic but telling points. 

China, the world’s largest communist country, has a debt scourge equal to or surpassing the largest so-called capitalists countries as measured by percentage of GDP. 

“The country’s [China’s] debt levels stabilized for several years before accelerating again to reach an all-time high of nearly 290% of gross domestic product in the third quarter last year, data by the Bank of International Settlements showed,” said CNBC in June of 2021 [5]. 

One need look only at the Evergrande disaster, the largest commercial developer in China [6], that for years financed construction of projects that were never finished — something unique to communism [7]— and is now facing dissolution, to see that rampant debt is a bigger problem amongst communists than it is in capitalists countries.  

Lest one think that it’s just corporations that run up debt behind that Bamboo Curtain, China also has $10.4 trillion in household debt versus $14.5 trillion in the USA [8]. 

When one accounts for the differences in the GDP between the two countries, it makes the debt about equal. But when one considers that U.S. GDP per capita is over $60,000 per person and China’s per capita GDP is $11,000 per person [9], it makes China look like a loan shark’s paradise.

Score one for capitalism. 

Getting beyond the financial illiteracy of Abdelmahmoud, it also highlights the basic hostility that liberals have towards systems that have treated them well, generally speaking. 

Abdelmahmoud is a refuge from Sudan, from where the civil war drove him and his family to emigrate to Toronto, Canada when he was 12. And obviously, he’s never lived under communism, just under Canada’s truncated socialism made possible by capitalism.  

He enjoys free government-controlled universal healthcare under Canadian law. 

And he seemed to not understand that he was oppressed by racism until he attended a state subsidized college in Canada, Queens College, where, according to his own account [10], he said without apparent intentional irony: “I became aware of larger conversations about racism and institutional racism at Queen’s through students and professors who have been studying these issues for a long time, and wondered what they were talking about.” 

More unintentional irony ensued as Abdelmahmoud became a “rising star” journalist with BuzzFeed, writing about “culture” issues, in which he was aided by those nasty capitalists who secured for BuzzFeed $546 million in nine rounds of investment that likely makes his job still possible. 

Memo to Abdelmahmoud: BuzzFeed losses money [11]. 

And in case Abdelmahmoud didn’t notice, BuzzFeed is planning on going public late his year — that ritual of capitalist profit-taking — at a valuation of $1.53 billion [12]— even as the company asks readers to donate to them as if it was a non-profit [13].

Public capital and private donations will possibly help BuzzFeed hide their losses for a little while longer, free their investors and transfer the risk to the investing public. 

In other words, it’s not too late: Abdelmahmoud can still free himself from his personal “Squid Game” and quit this global scourge he calls capitalism for a much lower salary in a communist country and about the same amount of debt.