The Amoral Nature of Capitalism
The free market doesn’t guarantee social outcomes, merely economic ones.Friedman
Think about it: corporations make money when bad things happen:
- addiction (alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, porn)
- ai-driven job losses (higher profit margins)
- disinformation (social media traffic > ad sales)
- economic decline (hedge funds, short-selling stocks)
- gambling (lottery, casinos, online gaming)
- obesity (fast food)
- pandemics (drugs, healthcare)
- planned product obsolescence (e.g., cars)
- poverty (credit cards, payday loans)
- violence (gun sales)
- war (weapons sales)
We live in and willingly accept a fixed social construct fine-tuned for thousands of years that has created a huge set of for-profit industries organized around our most addictive impulses. And then, we spend a huge percentage of the federal and state tax revenues generated by these industries to try and control, enforce, penalize, and rehabilitate the consequences our impulsive and addictive behaviors and social hangover which creates a massive negative social impact and cost, year after year, decade after decade.
- drug and alcohol addiction
- breakdown of relationships, marriage, families
- cognitive offloading and erosion of humanness and thinking
- damage to physical and mental health
- erosion of truth, trust, and the overall social fabric
- financial risk, dependency, bankruptcy
Unfortunately, the meek have not (yet) inherited the earth.
Many cities, states, and our federal government are on the brink of financial breakdown and desperate for more tax revenue. Mega-billionaire gambling opportunists are ready to step in and take advantage of this desperation by promising a flowing tap of cash squeezed from the weakest impulses and addictions of human beings.
Regardless of what Gordon Gekko said, greed will (not) be good in the long term for society with the exception of the 1% who will make big money from the transactions on both sides of this equation resulting in …..
….. a few big winners, and millions of losers.
As the pandemic has painfully revealed, do we need a new hybrid socio-economic model for the 21st century that provides for a more fair and equitable set of economic and social outcomes that an unchecked free-market capitalistic system cannot alone guarantee?
What works better: free trade or tariffs?
Was GM Too Big to Fail?
GM CEO Mary Barra took on the task of making a dent in the sprawling, dense and calcified GM cultural fabric which has deeply embedded within it the familiar dysfunctional qualities of a massive bureaucratic organization. In this regard, human nature repeats itself with disappointing consistency. In very large corporations, universities, government units, and the military, this is what we deal with every day.
GM was probably NOT too big to fail. Failure could have been the disruptive event necessary to purge the dysfunction and clear a path for renewal — a corporate reboot. Bankruptcy would have provided the platform and mandate for sweeping away all the dead wood, political toxicity, cronyism, greed, inbreeding and staleness that builds up over time inside society’s largest institutions. The aggressive pursuit of profit in BIG BUSINESS (with power and greed lurking in the headquarters’ shadows) has its dark side.
When it comes to too big to fail, we need to protect the common good, not just shareholders who have to take their risk/reward chances in our capitalistic free market. Unfortunately in this case, the taxpayers ended up paying for GM’s (and its shareholders) risk taking and poor business decisions, known as “privatizing profits and socializing losses.”
- crime and corruption: Kleptopia by Tom Burgis
- federal reserve: The Great Deformation Stockman
- free market:
- history: Americana Srinivasan
- how central bankers rigged the world: Collusion Prins
- predict/control behavior: The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Zuboff
- post-capitalism: Inventing the Future Srnicek
- progressive capitalism: People, Power, and Profits Stiglitz
- shareholders: The Shareholder Value Myth Stout
- stock market: The stock market is not the economy.
- tariffs: The Basic Guide to US Tariffs Smith
- world economic outlook: International Monetary Fund