How to get away from capitalism, and how to hold it accountable

I worry a lot. It’s easy to be disheartened. First-world life is good-looking, safe, soothing, and rather nicely catered to the eyes. Its farmers feed the world by producing enough food and clothing to satisfy a growing appetite. We have shops that, for many, provide the world’s most secure way to acquire all the food that we need to feed ourselves.

Yet do our farmers and clothes producers really have the capacity to grow the quantity of food and clothing necessary to provide the goods and services that people around the world need? I’m not just talking about such primitive necessities as clothing and food, which are easy to buy and dispose of. I’m talking about basic necessities such as the basic clothing of the 12 billion people now on earth. We do have a clothing production system that operates in two main paradigms: the trickle down economy of massive unproduced wealth flowing into the hands of the governments that govern us, and the largesse of the people, both rich and poor, who send their surplus earnings in such economic activities as aquaculture.

The two paradigms are very different, and that fact is perhaps the most important one about human life on earth today. One of those paradigms was so obvious to many thinkers that it was called capitalism, and other architects in our past used that schema to justify themselves with self-righteously flippant: “Who am I to say that I can control the growth of peoples and the stock markets!” (Karl Marx), “The growth of an empire is the ruination of nations!” (Thomas Jefferson) or “Emancipation isn’t for slaves: It’s for the people!” (George Washington). Capitalism enabled many people in the past to forget that the profits that human beings provide to non-human companies and governments are a fraction of their profits to humans.

I’m not talking about measures in this essay that would provide a more just distribution of wealth: a bit more power for the electorate on a national, state or local level, for instance. In this regard, at least, I am grateful to those political leaders who always remind us that wealth does not have to be at the expense of the people. And I am grateful to those investors who understand the value that all things wealth add: a continued economy of growth and a stable system of taxation that benefits and sustains human beings and communities. But a wealth system that promotes and reflects human beings and human communities, on the other hand, will seek to insure that prosperity does not solely go to people at the very top.

Governments, for their part, do need to provide the best, safest and most productive forms of government services possible so that investors and those of us who run companies can continue to conduct business. However, ensuring that we as citizens can work and have satisfying lives and be able to afford the resources and products needed for it, are difficult tasks that must be taken on by the governments not simply as temporary and temporary offerings of charity and charity-tax-extracting foundations.

It’s very difficult for the largest companies to think in ways that support jobs and good conditions for working people — even if those working-people are small-business owners in America and start-up or growing companies. Such thinking is almost exclusively practiced by institutions that belong to a profit-maximizing economy, such as banks, hedge funds, venture capitalists, and public and private employee unions. Their companies’ biggest employers, by and large, pay themselves more than 20 times more than the average American worker, as explained by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is because profit-maximizing companies are, in fact, nonprofit organizations that operate on many paths. Their largest payouts are mainly to make themselves even more profitable, with a more open dividend policy. That result is well-timed, but the end result is not that well-thought-out.

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