Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The great capitalism cop out

Capitalism is great for certain things.

An open marketplace can foster competition, spark innovation and keep prices at a manageable level for most consumers.

But there is one thing that capitalism has never done well—morality.

Hey wait a second, I thought the market was supposed to be perfectly neutral, uninvolved in matters of right and wrong?

Exactly. Which is just a fancy way of saying the market is an amoral pussy.

50 million without healthcare? Hey, the market's just doing its thing, you dig?

Your family is losing its home? Calm down, that's just excess inventory working its way through the system, bro.

You cant find a job to support your wife and kids? Chill, dude, you just don't have the skills the marketplace is demanding right now.

As moral dodges go, it's about as perfected it gets.

I'm not fucking you over, that's just the market. You can't get mad at the market—it's not a person with feelings or motivations.

Oh, okay. But what about me? I'm a person with feelings and motivations. And I feel like I don't have a job or a home. And I'm motivated to tell your precious little market to go fuck itself.

Ooh, that's harsh, man.

Yeah? You wanna know what else is harsh? The fact that the ultimate capitalist creation, the corporation, gets treated like a human being when it comes to donating money to politicians, but when it comes to being held accountable for any wrongdoing? Not so much.

A corporation, we are told, has but one responsibility—to improve shareholder value.


I guess the well-being of our society isn't high on the list of things that shareholders value.

Our factory poisoned the water supply? Guess the shareholders don't value public health.

Our car is a death trap? Hmm, I suppose our shareholders are willing to take some risks with others people's lives.

Our bank destroyed the wealth of virtually every middle class person in America? That's odd, because our shareholders seem super happy with how well our high-value clientele are doing.

But again, we can't blame the corporation, it's just doing what it was created to do. It has no emotions.

So where does that leave us? You know, the people, who actually do have emotions? How do we work to create a better society when our institutions seem hell-bent on not giving a flying shit?

Perhaps it's time to create better institutions and kick the old, destructive ones to the curb. Hell, they won't mind. After all, they don't have any emotions.

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