Capitalism is dead! Or is it? A recent article in Time Magazine, “Saving Capitalism” by Rana Foroohar, tackled the topic head-on, highlighting a concern as old as the system itself: with Wall Street now more invested in its own force than in actual people, financial wizards conjuring a quick million faster than Mom ‘n Pop can wave a white flag, and “corporate greed” widely accepted as “status quo” – is the system that once propelled young dreamers to new heights so lost to self-interest and gross margin that it no longer serves its primary purpose of sustaining the American economy?
Capitalism is not a dying system, but a flawed one; a system that has served the United States well over the past two centuries and should now stand up to scrutiny. Changes in the financial sector force Capitalism to work only in certain favor, when benefits should be reaped economy-wide. Foroohar lays out several indicators and solutions that accurately depict the future of Capitalism – both grim and promising. However, it is her detailing of the decline in research and development that stands out and captures what we stand to lose when we as a society surrender to the politicians and billionaires that attempt to convince us they are acting in our best interest.
“Firms with more than 10,000 employees accounted for 73% of non-federally funded R&D in 1985. That share dropped to 54% in 1998 and to 51% in 2008,” according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.
So yes, the decline is slowing – like a flesh wound that doesn’t stop bleeding until the whole limb is amputated. The largest corporations in the United States have decided they can no longer afford foresight, certainly not when a slight of hand stock trick guarantees inflated third quarter earnings! Long term strategy, most will attest, is not glamorous. It requires, well, research and development, along with thought, planning, possible losses, and the dreaded R-word – RISK.
Without an incredibly un-sexy, black and white strategy by OUR corporations – a long con should that be more palatable for CEO-types – to invest in the future and extend financial influence, we the masses, already burned out from debt, and fine print (“in a democracy, complexity breeds exclusion”), and just plain old not getting what we were promised – we get conned. “‘The idolatry of money’…in which ‘man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.'” The Pope said that, and His Holiness drives home a good point: we cannot allow ourselves to be diminished into nothing more than a pocket to pick. [ASIDE: That is about as much shade as His Holiness is permitted to throw.]
“Crises of faith like the one American capitalism is currently suffering can be a good thing if they lead to re-examination and reaffirmation of principles.”
Can Capitalism be reformed? Will it? Or is a Bernie Sanders-style socialist revolution the only remaining course of action?
Excerpts sourced from “Saving Capitalism,” written by Rana Foroohar for Time magazine.