There are many examples of how American society places value in money over people. The United States is a capitalist society, or free-market economy. This means, in theory, that industry is run by private owners who compete for capital. In actuality, it has come to mean that only a select few have access to capital, while most are excluded from the competition. Furthermore, once wealth is accumulated, one’s chances of continuing to gain wealth increase. According to the US Census in 2017, 12.3% of Americans live in poverty. Economist Edward Wolf, states that the wealthiest 1% of Americans control 40% of the entire country’s capital. Thus, it is statistically harder and harder for Americans to gain wealth if they fall below the 1%. These statistics bring into question the idea of the American dream, which falsely claims that the US is meritocratic. Meritocracy is the belief that hard work results in an increase in social and financial gains. However, the statistics above outline how poor Americans have unequal access to the country’s wealth.
A good public figure and activist to consider when answering your question is Dr. Paul Farmer. The book Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder follows Farmer’s work and methodology in Haiti’s healthcare. Farmer says,
The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.
Furthermore, he shares how the United States values individuals and countries. He is very critical of the United States’s role in Haiti’s poverty. He attributes poverty in the country to colonialism. In addition, he says,
It is very expensive to give bad medical care to poor people in a rich country.
In other words, the United States actually wastes money in its lack of care. He essentially argues that suffering is senselessly caused by capitalism.