Capitalism has hit a crossroads

Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

This is morbidly fascinating.

Without usย even knowing it, we’ve stumbled across one of the most critical moments we’ve ever reached with regards to our economic ideologies. For decades, the unbridled, free market bent of capitalist thought has dominated society, with the capitalist ethos themselves being the key to the “good life” in the words of John Maynard Keynes. But while it remains the key to ensuring economic prosperity for as great a number of people as possible, its critics have been slowly growing, and people are slowly becoming aware of the gradual damage it’s doing to our societal values. The old Keynesian notion of the good life really doesn’t stand up when we take into account that the Western world is now gradually becoming unhappier and unhappier. The pursuit for material goods and relativist, superficial wealth has resulted in the average person becoming far more preoccupied with their money than ever before, and hence unhappier. Really, though, who can blame them? When laissez-faire capitalism, which in itself rewards the accumulation of capital above all else, hasย changed all our lives in some way, we’ve no choice but to conform. And that, in itself, is the problem. That is why capitalism needs to change.ย 

Being regular citizens, there isn’t much we can do as central bank governors and heads of government and state pursue policies that lead to the furthering of the monopoly that capitalism (in its current state) has on all of our lives. As purported by many left wing thinkers, the endless search for the most “efficient” outcome and not the one that is fair per se has led to the dramatic oversimplification and overlooking of many of the issues that plague and will continue to plague humanity in coming generations. Let’s look at Donald Trump, arguably one of the greatest beneficiaries today of the capitalist system. He’s a billionaire that claims that a loan of “a million dollars” from his father was a “small” amount, and given his wealth, for him, it probably is. Notwithstanding the fact that Trump may not have been intellectually superior to others in order to accrue the massive amounts of wealth that he has accrued, he has asserted that “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” When someone’s materialistic ideals have corrupted him to the extent that he disregards reputable scientific knowledge, it’s only rational to question what exactly has gone wrong. Given Trump’s substantial popularity in America, serious questions have to be raised about what capitalism has done to today’s generation: is this type of life the one we really want to live?

It’s certainly not the one the poor can sustain for much longer. Recent data has shown that income inequality is rising at unprecedented levels, with the gap between the rich and the poor only continuing to widen, particularly in Western democracies such as that of the US and the UK, two global stalwarts of today’s capitalism. Even more worrying is the fact that up and coming powers such as India are gradually becoming more and more influenced by the Western perception of an ideologically perfect society; they are leaning more and more towards the sort of system that’s ramifications will take us decades to clear up. Lower levels of income for the poorest in society also manifest themselves in other deficiencies further down the line, such as a lack of quality education and a lack of good healthcare. This domino effect culminates with the poor not being able to reach their full productive capacity, leaving a country’s output waning and their productivity slowing, which can only be corrosive to further economic and social progress. While laissez faire capitalism can be a good beginning for any nation, it most definitely should not be treated as a means to an end; the Western world is already seeing the initial consequences of this broken system: the top 1% of Americans earn more than 20% of the country’s national income.

The final and most damning indictment of capitalism today lies in the people themselves. Newspapers such as the Telegraph have suggested that relative wealth, whereby people have large amounts of money in comparison to their relatively poorer colleagues, makes people happier than absolute wealth, whereby they have enough money to fill their stomachs and live a relatively untroubled lifestyle. On the surface, this doesn’t seem so bad: encouraging competition and therefore boosting a country’s productivity. However, it’s also important to note that for every person that is “happy” at having relative wealth, there are large numbers of people who look up to that person and feel frustrated and disillusioned at not having acquired the material and superficial wealth that their more financially successful colleague has. Indubitably, this further leads on to a decrease in productivity as more and more people stop working as hard due to the sheer futility of it all, which is exactly what has been occurring in America. Productivity has decreased for many of the past few quarters, with it again reducing, according to the Wall Street Journal, in the first quarter of 2016. Again, these figures lend more credence to the claim that the problem with the capitalist system today is not only a social one, where people are unhappier and unhealthier, but also an environmental and an overarchingly economic one.

Thanks, capitalism, but no thanks: you’ve helped us get this far and so we applaud you. However, you’ve corrupted our people, beatenย our economies and damaged our environment – it’s time for you to change.

Shrey Srivastava, 15

 

27 Comments Add yours

  1. Gaurav Srivastava says:

    Agree 100%, well written.

    Like

  2. Very interesting and thoughtful perspective. Continue with the great words, facts, and evidence. Keep it up!!

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  3. Very great perspective (from a financier)!

    Jenna from http://www.visionsofvogue.com

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  4. Reblogged this on Africa-Fight-Now .ORG ! and commented:
    This is a brilliant analysis of the inadequacy of capitalism. The choice now is socialism

    Like

  5. Creigh Gordon says:

    Capitalism has one value: profit. Humanity has many values: “family values,” justice and fairness, other quality of life values which capitalism sees as secondary to profit if it sees them at all. There’s your problem right there.

    BTW, I commend you for being able (at 15!) for being able to see beyond finance – that the economy exists to serve people, not the other way around.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much and I completely agree ๐Ÿ™‚

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  6. Scottie says:

    Reblogged this on Scotties Toy Box and commented:
    When I was a young man, I met an older Welsh man. HE told me that in the future not all people would work, and those that did would work much smaller hours, trading their job off to others. He said the problem we had developed was people got their sense of self worth from their job, and a secondary was the inability of those not in a certain economic level to gain access to needed goods and services. He said we needed to teach people to be productive in their non working time, their day , with out being destructive as we were then with off time. We needed to produce without regard for others to want our production. That was we would have productive behaviors to occupy us and not engage in the most destructive parts of society. In a way the internet has done part of that for us. I can not work, yet I feel I have something to do with my time each day. I blog. I am adding to my blog which has some small following and I read as many blogs as I can get to in the time between sleepings. So now we have to address the issue of those not working enough hours to earn a “decent” living and those working all the y can and not having a living wage. I often wondered in Star Trek TNG when they said they got rid of money and the need for it, and people got their satisfaction doing things that interested them.. those who had desires and wants fulfilled them in their pursuits, how they paid for the goods and services they wanted. Yes doctors were doctors because of the love of healing or so, but who did the crap jobs, and was there extra for them? Who made sure everyone could eat, go to the bathroom, wash, and all the other things humans must have. Were all goods free, if so who paid for the material to built them, even if the labor was free? I admit it takes more than I have to figure out these problems. But someone better, because the way of people not really working unless it pleases them is coming. More and more automation, more self serve. Hope they figure it out soon or it will be people against people to just live, and all will lose. Hugs

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    1. Thanks for the extended comment, I always appreciate them ๐Ÿ™‚ Your visions are always so insightful. How have you been doing recently? ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Scottie says:

        Pretty good for an old geezer who’s major form of exercise is going to the doctors. LOL ๐Ÿ™‚ I am making, how about you, is this a busy time of year for you now? Be well and happy. Hugs

        Like

      2. No, not really, it’s my summer holidays right now ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks, you too! ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Yilun Zhang says:

    you definitely has an interesting perspective on this. Totally agree with you about the quality of the economy today is not ideal. I think the problem lies more in the lack of government policies that provide social safety net. It’s also not helping that the world is changing much more quickly through technology that significant number of people are displaced by machines and algorithms. However, I don’t necessarily think that capitalism is bad, as long as you also have a strong government that provide a good social safety net. To me, they aren’t mutually exclusive and you can have both.

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    1. I completely agree! Thanks for the comment ๐Ÿ™‚

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  8. jbuc61 says:

    We don’t actually have capitalism in Canada or America though so you can’t say it doesn’t work. If we really had capitalism then we wouldn’t have governments who force us to pay into their pension plans, employment insurance plans, force us to pay minimum wages, force us to pay property taxes and prevent us from having full ownership of our land, we wouldn’t have central banks that set interest rates, we wouldn’t have socialist healthcare systems, we wouldn’t have rental ceilings and other government enforced price restrictions, etc. This is not capitalism. Yes the system is very corrupt but corruption can come in any system. In real capitalism, however, it prevents the corrupt governments from intervening in the market more than they need to.

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    1. Thanks again for this comment! I think that it’s impossible to have a “real” form of any economic ideology; there will always be elements of something else mixed in. Largely, I feel America is largely capitalist, hence why I referred to America occasionally in the article.

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      1. jbuc61 says:

        True enough. America is largely capitalist but to blame capitalism for it’s problems would be misguided. That would be like blaming a particular diet for weight gain when you never really followed the diet strictly at all.

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      2. Well, if you largely followed it, you could blame it, I guess ๐Ÿ˜›

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  9. akboogy says:

    Thoughtful observations young man. It seems you’ve triaged much of the illness, what thought have you given towards a remedy?

    It’s encouraging to witness youth thinking beyond the trappings of consumerism and celebrity culture. I look forward hoping your mindfulness encourages more of your peers likewise with curiosity and taking ownership of free thought.

    Take care, Lucas

    Like

    1. Thank you so much ๐Ÿ™‚ I may dedicate a post further on to a remedy, I’ve done a sort-of one here, but it doesn’t directly address this directly, you may be interested in reading it though: https://shreysfinanceblog.com/2016/05/01/want-companies-to-change-make-them/

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  10. noblethemes says:

    I certainly agree with your perspective. The late Pope St. John Paul II argued against “unbridled capitalism” as much as he argued against socialistic-communism, and in so doing pointed out much of what you write in your article. Bravo! Yes, we badly need an unadulterated reformation in capitalism!

    Like

  11. I recommend studying the work of “Robert Reich” in order to get his perspective. Also, you should watch “The One Percent” by Jaimie Johnson, It is a good documentary that exposes some wealth inequality. And then continue to study up on Capitalism vs Socialism vs Marxism etc etc (Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman) And then you want to consider things like “Bias” or “is there a skewed view?”

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