Reconstructed Capitalism

There’s a lot of talk about how our economy can be fixed. The solution: spend a lot of money, whether it is done by the private (businesses and consumers) or public sector (government). I’m not an economist. I’m just an ordinary guy who goes to work every morning, pay his taxes, and goes home to his wife. But it seems obvious to me that any economy system built on massive consumerism, materialism and profit-gain has a death wish written all over it. The people cry, “Save our capitalism!” It is assumed that capitalism is absolute truth. So the solutions that our government and economists are conjuring is set not to solve the so-call economic crisis but to ensure the survival of capitalism. In other words, our ideologies are more important than the people who are suffering.

I heard a host on conservative radio talk about how there’s nothing wrong with capitalism. It works. It’s the people who don’t know how to use it and thus our economic problems. But here’s the problem with this piece of absolutism: people invented capitalism. Capitalism is flawed because people are flawed. And if capitalism needs to be reevaluated and fixed for the good of the people, then it must be done.

I believe that any economy system that elevates government or business or an elitist minority at the expense of others is ineffective and in the long-run, destined to fail. Our capitalism has little concern for people. Our capitalism’s goal is profit-gain, the bottom line. Obama is upset that executives gave themselves high bonuses and bought corporate jets with the bailout money they’ve received. He calls it shameful and irresponsible. Is that it, Mr. President? What do you expect from a system that keeps no one accountable. What do you expect from a system that allows companies the right to do what they please for the buck? Is it really a surprise that greed, which drives our capitalism, still exists even when you give the greedy help?

Perhaps, like any truths we uphold, we need to reevaluate our economic paradigms. I’d like to see a post-capitalism movement that calls for a balance between free market and social justice/fairness. I would like to see our capitalism resemble our view of freedom: You are free to be and do whatever you like so long as it does not harm another person. Businesses, I would argue, should be regulated when it comes to exploiting employees nationally and internationally. They should be regulated when it comes to hurting their local communities, economically and/or environmentally. Businesses need to balance not just their check books but also their social impact. I call for a holistic business model that makes the wellbeing of people a priority; that ethics and social awareness drive economical success. Haven’t we learned that when we take good care of people, in return, they take good care of us? It’s an ingenious business strategy! Like government, free market needs checks and balances.

I’m tired of hearing conservatives condemn big government but praise big business, as if it’s any better. And I’m tired of liberals applauding big government spending as if it’s going to solve an economic problem that has very little to do with currency and more to do with people’s ethics and priorities.

We’ve heard enough from governments and corporate businesses. Now let’s hear from the source of their existence and survival: the people who are hurting.