Business and Exploitation in Light of a Pandemic

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Photographs courtesy of chicagocitywire.com

Unprecedented moments, like the one we all face today, can often bring a variety of reactions from society as a whole. A lot of these reactions can be very telling about those who irresponsibly take advantage of this pandemic moment for their own personal gain and others who panic in fear of what the future may hold. The remaining reactions may be quite dissimilar. There is no doubt that the behaviors of some can become an extremely costly inconvenience for others and, in times of vulnerability, may lead to extreme forms of desperation. 

Many businesses have long been an absolute necessity for the livelihood of many Americans. At the peak of a pandemic, some of these companies have been at the forefront of those that take advantage of the crisis to reap profits. Some may go as far as saying that companies have outright exploited the needs of Americans in search of a quick buck, leaving many of those in need left to their own devices. Profiteering from such an untimely event can assuredly show where morality may lie in the hands of companies. While there are certainly many other forms of exploitation, countless schemes of profiteering and exploitation may be recognized in the forms of stockpiling and price gouging (buying a massive load of essential products, only to inflate the prices at a much higher cost than the original). 

In contrast to the people aiming to sell hand sanitizer for $40 or more on Amazon, one current business that is under fire for its exploitation of panic is Judy. With the slogan “Ready Set Judy,” Judy was created in January of this year. The company’s mission is to sell emergency kits, intended to “prepare” people for survival and disaster. With a total of four emergency kits, ranging from $60 to $250, Judy kits most certainly do not come cheap. “The Safe,” Judy’s most expensive emergency kit, comes with seven items, including an iPhone charger and one roll of duct tape. 

Judy’s timeliness  – along with a boost from Kim Kardashian – has pushed the marketing of emergency kits with the intent of preparing others for the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as the emergency kits come with such an expensive price tag, many are left to wonder how good Judy’s intentions are, if at all. The effectiveness of Judy’s preparedness can be of question itself, given that its contents resemble items from the local dollar store at a much higher price. Certainly, the market for such essential items must be massive as of now. Yet depriving people of staple necessities by bundling them into extremely overpriced kits can only appear to be highly exploitative and unjust. The fine line between humility and greed are not always easily distinguishable in such circumstances.  

As desperation to avoid undesirable conditions continues to grow, there will always be people who buy into exploitative business conduct. Nonetheless, the ability to use discernment to avoid the pull of such a ploy is needed now more than ever.