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Is it ethical to stockpile groceries during the coronavirus crisis? Show more Show less
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All around the world we are seeing images of emptied supermarket shelves as people prepare for lockdowns. Is it ethical to ensure you have enough supplies for your family without regards to others? Or is it unethical not to think of other (potentially more disadvantaged) people's needs?

No, it is not ethical to stockpile groceries Show more Show less

It is unethical to only think of yourself during this time. There are people who need the supplies as much as you do and it is just and fair to ensure that there is enough for them as well.
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More vulnerable people who need essential items are not able to attain them

It is not ethical to stockpile groceries and other supplies because it prevents more vulnerable people from attaining them. It also leads to increases in prices which only further worsens the situation.

The Argument

During March of 2020, as lockdowns were being established across America and the rest of the world, a huge social media frenzy also began. People started posting pictures of the other pandemonium that had transpired in grocery stores around the globe. Images of people carrying 300 roles of toilet paper, and aisles being swept clean of frozen foods or canned beans went viral. People naturally started to question the ethics of society's actions. While some are able to secure all the items they need, others are left destitute, and, oftentimes, people who are more vulnerable are not able to obtain necessary products. By stockpiling more than one needs, they are predisposing other people, more vulnerable people, to scarcity. People who are living in poverty or elderly people are among the most hard-hit by other people’s stockpiling habits. In Bedford, a certain foodbank reported on this problem. They noted how a lot of foods that are generally stored are canned items such as pasta or beans. [1]With people stockpiling such products, it is getting harder for food banks to purchase huge quantities of them. Also with the unemployment levels increasing, more people are relying on places like food banks and are unable to get enough food. Furthermore, as supplies start to dwindle, companies also start increasing the price of items. The scarcity creates more demand and this allows companies to astronomically increase prices. This has a huge effect on the elderly population who are generally living off of very restricted budgets. Pictures were circulated on social media of elderly people not being able to secure essential items. All of these heartbreaking scenarios could have simply been avoided if people did not buy more than what they needed. A little rationality could have gone a long way and prevented many vulnerable people from such horrors.

Counter arguments

More vulnerable populations are, without a doubt, having problems attaining items. However, this is not caused by other people stockpiling but it is a result of the hard-hit economic times. Most people who cannot secure things are generally living in poverty and they do not have a lot of savings. The beginning of the lockdown period led to many companies eliminating jobs and minimum wage workers were highly impacted. In America alone, 20.6 million people lost their jobs. [2]As supermarkets began to gouge their prices, it became increasingly hard for vulnerable people to obtain items. This problem could have been slightly alleviated if the stockpiling frenzy had not occurred; but it would not have eliminated it.

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-51856592/source.html
  2. https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/05/us-job-losses-due-covid-19-highest-great-depression/source.html
This page was last edited on Tuesday, 16 Jun 2020 at 20:05 UTC

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