Zen – Capitalism Hot & Cold

Where there are real owners responsible not just for making payroll but consider their workforce family and the community as their community then capitalism works fairly well.

When capitalism exists only to reap the greatest return in the shortest time without any concern for the general welfare of workforce or the local community then capitalism becomes perverted easily and predictably.

Capitalism is not inherently a ‘freedom’ oriented philosophy.

Fascism is usually capitalist-based, even dependent upon the efficiency of capitalism to make the ‘business friendly’ policies of the state work.

Crony capitalism is capitalism in the most perverse way. The U.S. system is full of crony capitalists. We call them ‘too big to fail’.

The military-industrial complex is capitalism. To justify its existence we discover ever more threats … as long as they require lots of money.

What capitalist country has ever held back from war when resources could not be bought? What cannot be bought will always be taken.

I am a capitalist and a business owner. But I do not believe capitalism to be any more friendly to freedom and liberty than some other forms of government.

Capitalism is efficient. It can be profitable. It can be merciless to those without bargaining power or resources. It usually seeks power to protect its value — often decrying government interference but seeking it at almost every chance to protect its privileges.

Where there are real owners responsible not just for making payroll but consider their workforce family and the community as their community then capitalism works fairly well.


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One response to “Zen – Capitalism Hot & Cold

  1. Capitalism is both all that is good and all that is bad. We wouldn’t be the United States of America without Capitalism. Likewise, we would have no history of exploitive labor practices or child labor without Capitalism. Adam Smith addressed this in his often overlooked book, “The Theory of Moral Sentiments” where he explores caring about the welfare of others. Ideally, any economic system includes compassion for our fellow men and women. I have observed that as our economic system grew more complex and private companies scaled to a size unimaginable 100 years ago that the “intimacy” that produced the “sympathy” for our fellow men and women was lost. The emphasis on shareholder value and profits came at the expense of labor.

    I have worked for some of the largest companies in the world (including Fortune 1 at the time). I have observed (in the companies for which I worked) that taking care of your people is “good business”. It contributes to both profits and product quality. Companies in my employment history have a culture of long term CEO Tenure (Bob Beyster – SAIC; Jack Welch – GE). I believe this results in a more compassionate environment with an emphasis on taking care of the people (that was the culture I experienced).

    I believe that companies with a short term CEO tenure (or a focus on profits and increasing shareholder value) lack the relationship with the company and its employees to care about their welfare. They are viewed as an “expense” or a “resource” (like the machines on the floor). Their mantra is “the best way to increase profits is to reduce costs”… and “people” are a “cost” (or expense).

    Economic systems evolve. Capitalism has evolved in a way that could not have been predicted 50 or 100 years ago. While Capitalism is both credited for our Country’s success and blamed for our social failures, it is neither. It is the nature (human nature) of those who own the means of production who determine its obligation to the labor force responsible for production.

    Personally, I favor employee owned companies. When the people who are responsible for the means of production also own the means of production, there’s a certain symmetry that changes the culture of a company. I have always favored this vice an emphasis on Unionization (which creates an adversarial relationship). I would propose that perhaps labor should organize with the goal of acquiring equity and ownership in the Company for which they work or perhaps organize to start their own companies. Wouldn’t it be interesting if instead of Unions negotiating for benefits, wage increases, and the retirement benefits that drove some our the largest companies in America out of business, they negotiated for equity, ownership, and stock. Management and labor would then share in the success (or failure) of the company.

    I don’t believe there is any one person who actually understands the math of economic systems. That includes me. As is the case in human history, we can only try different stuff, keep what works, and abandon the stuff that doesn’t.

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