Capitalism is good enough…

The future of Democracy

Capitalism is good enough…

…If you’re interested in the most efficient use of capital, though you should be prepared for layoffs, for outsourcing and for any other means by which this end might be achieved.

…If you believe that people and corporations will always behave ethically and lawfully, though you should be prepared for fraud, corruption and brazen disregard for the greater good.

…If you think that economic growth ought to be the primary goal of every society, though you should be prepared for the willful exploitation of people and natural resources.

…If you expect that people always act rationally, thereby ensuring that precisely the right products/services will be made and offered for sale at precisely the right price, though you should be prepared for the intentional manipulation of our decision making processes by marketers and corporate leaders.

…If you are of the opinion that the limited regulation it engenders is sufficient, though you should be prepared for the wholesale purchase of our political leaders by moneyed interests, thereby undermining the effectiveness of said regulation.

On the other hand

Countless millions of hectares of forest that existed on this planet 100 years ago, are gone. Global weather patterns are changing in unprecedented ways. Indigenous people all over the world have been killed, exploited or otherwise forced to change their way of living and relating to the earth. Our obsession with over-consumption and our throw-away mentality is fueled, quite literally, by an inordinate use of fossil fuels. And the top 1% of the population has over 90% of the wealth.

All of which is to say, simply, that it’s possible Capitalism, in it’s current form, isn’t good enough. It’s possible that, despite the apparent assumption among enlightened people that Capitalism is inherently good, we need a different approach.

And, as is applicable to so many areas of life, it’s entirely possible that what got us to this point is simply insufficient to bring us any further. To get us from where we are to where we want and need to be.

And yet the mere mention of an alternative, even in the most narrow sense (healthcare, for example), and the critics label it socialism and attack it as they would an invading army. That makes sense, of course, because the true critics are in that 1%, and they aim to stay, and they know we’ve all been raised to react negatively to the concept, and to think we ought to be opposed to it too.

True Socialism isn’t the answer, but I think we need to be wary of unquestioned assumptions. Particularly when the consequences of those assumptions are so significant, and so clearly negative for the vast majority of people. We can’t allow the hope of one day being in the top 1% to placate us, less the numbers grow even more disparate.

And we can’t continue to defer to others, to pretend that someone else will take on the hard work that change requires. Our leaders - both in industry and government - would gladly tell you that, while not perfect, our economic system is the best the world has ever seen.

It’s a nice idea to believe in, mostly because believing it helps us justify inaction. But the truth is, it’s little more than an opinion, one that depends highly upon your perspective. And on how you define ‘best’.

But even if we grant it as fact, ‘best’ is a moving target, and everyday offers a new opportunity to improve. Don’t let those who would maintain the status quo keep you from doing everything in your power to create a more perfect union.

Life, if it is to persist at all, must expand and evolve, and it must do so for the benefit of all. That’s not what the 1% want’s to hear, but it’s what the rest of us need to hear.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bamboo Forest - Tick Tock Timer January 28, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Good stuff. Enjoyed this presentation.


Jeb January 29, 2011 at 12:05 am

Thanks BF…


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