Capitalism in it’s purest form, puts profit before people.
Capitalism tempered or alloyed with socialism, depending on the magnitude of socialism, can balance between the two.
The US Civil war is the beginning of the battle of how much to temper capitalism – the heady days of the robber barons and a slave based economy have not quite left the world stage.
The US civil war was not about slavery in terms of human rights; the US civil war was about economics and how slave labour gave the south an economic advantage – and that the south wasn’t wanting to be lesser than the north.
The north only freed the slaves to reduce the southern labour pool and in hopes of the slaves rising up and creating a second front inside the southern lines – and revisionism doesn’t help resolve a matter when only by acknowledging it, can it be actually dealt with.
The founding fathers were more enlightened than most of their day, but do not impose modern sensibilities and make them into that level of visionary; as most founding fathers owned slaves, so slavery was never an issue for them – all the people they thought of as human had rights – white male landowners, like themselves.
If the founding fathers had a more modern sensibility, then gender would have been explicitly made equal and it wasn’t – women didn’t get to vote in the US at first and have they ever passed the ERA?.
Slaves were not going to get more consideration than free women.
I was kindly reminded that the North’s industry was based largely on textile manufacturing, which was profitable because of cheap southern cotton. Yankee mill owners were deeply complicit in the slave trade, because they well knew that while they piously outlawed slavery in northern states, they made their money from a system that only worked because slavery existed in the south.
Of course, in colonial times, the ancestors of the mill owners were even more directly involved in actually importing slaves as one leg of the “triangle trade”. England was supporting the south because English cotton mills were in direct competition with New England’s mills, and the English saw an opportunity to open a new supply source cheaper than the existing one.
One of the often overlooked keys to the Union’s victory was the naval blockade of southern ports that kept the south from financing their war effort with the profits of foreign cotton sales…..
This confirms my point that the civil wasn’t about the north being upset over slavery – since they continued to benefit from it indirectly – the south wanted to leave and that would have increased the cost of doing comparatively slave free business in the north.
So why do I say that the US civil war and the central issue of slavery is still being fought? Because we haven’t learned the lessons as multinational corporations outsourced jobs overseas because labour was cheaper than in the US – because there were no human rights, unions, environmental protection act that increase the cost of labour.
Why didn’t anyone consider that the US was effectively still struggling with the issues that caused the civil war – labour vs management – in fact, it’s a battle over the form of capitalism – pure capitalism, uncaring of the people who power the economic engine and unwilling to share the profits with the labour that produce them.
So who is it that has the jobs to buy these cheaper products of what is essentially still slave labour? At what cost do we continue to produce cheap goods that are cheaper to replace than repair? Especially when the warranty costs nearly as much as the product?
Or does the world follow on Canada’s model of socialized capitalism, where there’s environmental, labour and consumer protection?
The reality is that the few who benefit, benefit the most in the short and immediate term by the exploitation of the masses.
We can’t keep pumping poo into the environment or burning through the labour forces; after a while, all of this comes back on us – the pollution, dead zones in the oceans, desertification of arable land, increased cancers, shorter lifespans.
There isn’t a god who’s going to fix all our bad behaviour – and, if there was a god, we would all be collectively condemned, not rewarded for how we’ve treated the planet – as a personal playpen filled with poo.
Capitalism needs to be re-framed from it’s bad rap of greed/exploitation.
Part of the problem, I think is that many CEOs are diagnosable as sociopaths (not violent, but lacking compassion) who make decisions based on what’s favourable for the wrong group – the stockholders instead of the workers who produce the goods or provide the services of the company that generate the capitol the company earns.
Stockholders provide capitol that is not directly associated with the company’s production, although I suppose stocks could be viewed as an ancillary product.
But stockholders are much more fickle than employees – stocks are bought and sold all the time – it seems like not many stockholders have the idea of buy and hold on for the long term.
Capitolism can be reframed to benefit not only those who invest the capitol or the ones who create the opportunities for capitol to be made, but also those who produce the services or labour that creates the new capitol.
I think capitalism doesn’t have to be viewed as greed centred, because capitalism is not solely motivated by greed – but also the drive to innovate, to invent, to better people’s lives and contribute to society and to leave one’s mark on the world.
For a company to function, it needs many groups of people from employees, suppliers, consumers and investors – and all of these people need a job to ensure that they can take care of their basic needs as well as creating personal wealth and quality of life.
When capitolism works well, all the participants benefit, which in turn benefits society.
To work well, capitalism needs to include heart and compassion. And it’s in a company’s interest to be a good corporate citizen, since consumers are increasingly not only concerned with a good product at the lowest price.
Consumers want to know that the company is not polluting the environment, has fair employee practices from demographic hiring and promotion policies but also not using a slave workforce in less regulated countries, is creating a product that is safe and is not engaging in creative accounting.
Capitalism has long since stopped being about enriching the robber baron at the top.
But is a system of interconnectedness.
The company needs employees (who also need jobs) and consumers (who need jobs). For those times when companies act like consumers are replaceable and employees are expendable or outsourceable.
There’s also government regulators and enforcement – more people with jobs!
The more people who have jobs, the more people are consumers, are taxpayers and are benefiting from capitalism.
Is this naive or Utopian?
Maybe – and I think more needs to be understood about ‘greed’, and perhaps how to control, mitigate or redirect it – as I think it is an extension of a survival instinct.
Buy why can’t we rethink greed from “Me instead of you” to “Me and then you” ?
After all, you can accumulate so much wealth that it’s beyond your comprehension – and then what? What challenges do you have left to face when money solves or eliminates survival issues and pretty much ensures that any whim can be satisfied?
I’m not saying that three’s nobility in being poor – I don’t buy that at all – but there is something to be said for having just enough to be comfortable and not worry about the basics – but still having to work and problem solve for less essential things.
It seems to me that in many ways, having a huge amount of money takes you out of the world, since you can create your own little bubble world.
Humans are social creatures and I don’t think we generally do okay in bubble world.
Look how many celebrities die young from drugs and alcohol, unable to cope with too much money and not enough challenges.
The robber baron descendants and hereditary wealthy who live in their own bubbles seem to not understand that the power they have in bubble world doesn’t pass into the real world, which isn’t structured to suit them.
And that laws and rules still apply to them when they step outside their bubbles.
The dangerous ones who try to remake the world over into their bubble by funding terrorism is the darkest side of wealth.
Concentrating wealth in the hands of the few skews the world.
Redistributing the wealth through capitolism – employment and consumerism as the redistribution methods – would avoid the concerns of redistribution by purely socialist or communistic methods.
Wealth redistribution must remain connected to innovation, to labour, and to contribution.