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America needs a socially responsible capitalism

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  There is good capitalism and then there is bad capitalism. Good capitalism is socially responsible. It serves and benefits society at large. Bad capitalism is the corpocracy's socially irresponsible economic policies and practices that benefit only itself and was largely responsible for the 2nd Great Depression, or Economic Katrina that began a few years ago and is still taking its toll on us. The modern version of bad capitalism in America got its start in the early 1970s with the publication of Lewis F. Powell's manifesto in defense of the free enterprise system and with economist Milton Friedman's free-market ideology (I wrote about Powell's legacy in an OpEDNews article, December 3, 2011).


In moving toward socially responsible capitalism, nine characteristics of bad capitalism need to be recognized and eliminated: 1) free market ideology; 2) fear mongering over national debt; 3) privatization; 4) economic disparities and poverty; 5) shut-out capitalists; 6) financial speculation; 7) exploitative globalization; 8) unsustainable development; and 9) elitist pay without performance.


Because bad capitalism is so enter twined with it, the rest of the corpocracy will also need to be eliminated and that requires a host of sweeping political, legislative and judicial reforms, not just economic reforms per se (I have already given an overview of all the reforms needed in my article about Powell's legacy). The intent of the present article, therefore, is just to discuss very briefly each of the nine bad characteristics and also needed changes that would add up to the kind of capitalism we deserve to have and must have.


In discussing the changes needed I will occasionally refer to a nationwide taskforce on economic reform. It doesn't yet exist, but let's assume it has been commissioned by some nongovernmental group and charged with polling the opinions of middle class Americans, the socioeconomic group absolutely essential to any true democracy and viable economy, and then melding the solicited public opinion with the taskforce's a) consideration of new ways of thinking about capitalism; b) enunciation of a proposed new national economic policy; c) design of a socially responsible form of capitalism that has none of the nine bad characteristics; d) proposed objectives and initiatives to implement the design; and e) report on the findings and recommendations to the administration, to the Congress, and to the American people.


There would be no economists on the taskforce who were blindsided by Economic Katrina that swamped Main Street and left Wall Street high and dry yet nourished it with their free-market ideology, and who are still in the dark and disagreement over economic policy changes. As recently as late summer 2010, economist Thomas Friedman was saying that after talking to senior economic policy makers he came away concluding that "things are getting better, except where they aren't. The bailouts are working, except where they're not. Things will slowly get better, unless they slowly get worse. We should know soon, unless we don't." Who needs his or those policy makers' advice? Instead, taskforce members should include some prominent and innovative thinkers about the reform of capitalism but who aren't economists. In my book, The Devil's Marriage, is an Appendix entitled, "Creative Economic Thinking from A TO Z Minus E for Economists."   The list of non economists begins with Aristotle and ends with Danah Zohar and Ian Marshall, who wrote a book on "Spiritual Capital" that has no religious connotations but instead refers to a "self-sustaining wealth that enriches the deeper aspects of our lives."


1. Free Market Ideology


Adam Smith's espousal of a free market has been far overblown. The putative "father of capitalism" made only a passing reference to "the invisible hand" in his Wealth of Nations and never once in it used the term "capitalism." A moral philosopher, he understood the importance of morality, which he believed was manifested in a person's sympathy for others. He would have recoiled at the very idea of the corpocracy and its capitalism, for he thought the emerging corporations of his time posed threats to society If only that prescient man along with Aristotle could join the taskforce!


The proof is already in the flattened pudding, flattened by Economic Katrina, that free-market theory is utterly unworkable, destructive, and a hypocritical ploy by the corpocracy. The so-called Chicago School of Economics, where Friedman once held forth, is hugely responsible for touting the virtues of the free-market. And it is especially noteworthy and satisfying to learn that another influential member of that camp, lawyer and economics writer Judge Richard A. Posner, has since turned heretic and is now debunking the free-market ideology. He ought to be the honorary chair of the     taskforce, and it should include in its proposed national economic policy a debunking of free-market theory! The policy also needs to delineate government's proper obligations and role both in society and in its market place so as to strike a balance between total government rule on the one hand and total market rule on the other. This policy would do well to reflect Abraham Lincoln's view that the proper role of government "is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do at all, or can not so well do, for themselves-in their separate and individual capacities."  


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Gary Brumback Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Retired organizational psychologist.

Author of "911!", The Devil's Marriage: Break Up the Corpocracy or Leave Democracy in the Lur ch; America's Oldest Professions: Warring and Spying; and Corporate Reckoning Ahead.

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America needs a socially responsible capitalism

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