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Fast Company’s End of Capitalism

Fast Company - End of Capitalism Starting?

[I'm still incredibly lazy and not accomplishing much. I'm still riveted to the news on the hurricanes but it looks like the latest one will definitely NOT enter the Gulf. So maybe now I can stop the binge watching and start doing other things. I have begun to do some art work and readings again this week, as well as do some research.]

Recently, I read some interesting articles on capitalism which I thought I would expound on a little here. As one who used to do a lot of FP&A/project controls work, I still keep in touch with the topic, although right now my situation is different. So Fast Company's title "The End of Capitalism is Already Starting - If You Know Where to Look" caught my eye as something provocative from the magazine. I think of Fast Company as being vehemently pro-capitalism so an article about its end stopped me.

The writer says that here and there, a type of worker's coops are forming. But I'm not sure that is really new. I think there has always been some form of workers' coops, just maybe not in the structure that is forming today. I used to work for a company that was employee owned, although when I joined, it had gotten large

such that employees did not really direct their own work or set schedules. But they did have ownership of the company. So, I'm sure there were a few here and there that were a version of a workers' coops.

"...inequality experts Jason Hickel and Martin Kirk launched a conversation on this site when they posed the theory that capitalism is at the core of the many crises gripping our world today." Fast Company, "The End of Capitalism - If You Know Where to Look for It", 9.18.2017

So, again, it sounds like people are grappling for ways out of the kind of capitalism we have today that serves the few at the expense of the many.

"Americans getting closer and closer to understanding that they live in an economic system that is not working for them, and will not work for their kids,” Wolff says. Growing awareness that wages have been unable to keep up with inflated costs of living have left younger generations particularly disillusioned with capitalism’s ability to support their livelihoods, Wolff says, and with CEOs out-earning employees by sometimes as much as 800 to 1, it makes sense that public interest should be swinging toward a workplace model that encapsulates shared ownership, consensus-based decision making, and democratized wages. " Fast Company, ibid.

Of course, it took almost 10 years for us to reach this stage.

But I feel like the end of capitalism will come from the relentless technological progress that will replace people with software and machines. Even though the authors of The Second Machine has an idealistic view that it will be the combination of people and machines that will be the most successful in the future, I still can't help feeling that the current capitalistic thought of profit making and shareholder value takes precedence over the warm fuzzy feelings of humans working with machines. Unless we change our value system and culture, the pull of the short term bottom line is too strong. Back in the 80's and 90's, whenever companies announced layoffs, shareholders would cheer by increasing the stock price. They were happy that people were losing jobs because it meant money will be diverted into their pockets instead. So during these last 30 years, shareholders and corporate executives cared more about the bottom line than about the people who were losing jobs. The only time when there is interest in the human aspect is when they needed the people to produce the goods, sell the goods, or whatever other activity required to run the business. That was the only time people were hired.

What I found interesting in this article is that the financial executives are starting to take note of the feeling of angst in the air. They are uneasy and know that unless they and other companies start treating their employees more equitably, they may face troubles down the road. The author called it the "dethroning".

 

And, there was another article by David Brooks called "The Coming War on Business". He wrote about a writer who more or less predicted the populist and Trumpian values of nationalism and America First. This is a really interesting article that provides reasons why the regular American folks are fed up with the establishment. I feel for the underlying issues that are driving Middle America toward Trump (globalism is not working for the average American, Republicans are in a bubble and don't understand what is happening, and politics is no longer about left versus right but about religious versus secular, nationalists versus globalists, white versus non-white), but I don't 100% agree with all aspects of the issues, especially the cultural ones. I feel for them on the globalism but I don't feel for them on the cultural. I don't think ganging up on the poor immigrants is going to solve their problems. The real source of their problems are the big corporate chieftains who are offshoring or automating jobs, and that will happen, whether there are immigrants around or not.

"Trump is nominally pro-business. The next populism will probably take his ethnic nationalism and add an anti-corporate, anti-tech layer. Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple stand for everything Francis hated — economically, culturally, demographically and nationalistically." David Brooks, "The Coming War on Business", New York Times, 9.22.2017.

But the really interesting thing about the article is that the author thought that the next populism uprising will focus on the technology firms.

Yes, the technology firms will be in for a world of hurt and I think some of them know it. (I think Facebook and Microsoft are the ones furthest long in sensing the future troubles. IBM and possibly Amazon may be tone deaf.)

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