The laziest form of persuasion on the internet
My 15yo has taken to arguing economic systems with my wife and I (both economists). There is a strong Ugh, Capitalism vibe. OTOH, my 15yo is debating economic systems. I'll take the W.
Have you read any C4SS or Markets Without Capitalism? Might interest you.
As soon as I saw the headline, I thought of the Bono sticker.
In capitalism wealth pools at the top. The folks at the top use that wealth and power to manipulate markets and influence policymakers. This is why we have antitrust laws to guard against that sort of thing. Those antitrust laws haven’t been heavily enforced for like 40 years. Wealth began to use its power to buy our politicians after the Citizens United ruling. The corporate consolidation of America has led to de facto oligopolies where competitors can all raise prices tacit parallelism style under the guise of inflation — it’s also led to a situation where the closure of a single factory caused formula shortages for the mothers in America.
I get some of your criticisms of some of the stuff you posted here. But seriously, you don’t have to look far to see that corporatism is killing American capitalism. These things can be fixed, but not by denying there’s a problem that is, at least partially, related to capitalism. It needs some tweaking so that the people controlling the money do not control every aspect of our lives.
While I agree with this article that many critiques of capitalism today are of this variety, I actually think there's a more steelman way of conveying how many people feel (I don't think it falls into one of the three buckets).
People feel like the modern world over-indexes on money as the main form of measuring self-worth. When working in tech, there are these metrics called Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Every major business unit has a handful that are reviewed weekly and they are intended so that the leadership team can review a manageable subset of KPIs every week and measure the performance of the individual teams. The tricky part is getting these KPIs right *and* knowing when to change them. There are perverse incentives at stake whenever you try to distill complex phenomena into simple numbers (sometimes you get people hacking customer service metrics so that unhappy customers don't even leave feedback). It is important to do it otherwise it's impossible to measure progress.
In the case of society, those numbers are often bank balance and income for individuals and GDP/growth rate for nations. It gets very hard to separate out money from worth when the KPIs are set up this way. In most companies, you can alleviate the pain of bad metrics by re-evaluating KPIs once in a while, throw away the ones that don't make sense and adjust how things are measured. In the case of society, we've had the same KPIs for over 400 years and it shows its age.
Could be a cope in itself but we've had human society for over 4000 years and capitalism for only a 400 of them so critiques will come, most will be bad, some will be valid and a few will help guide us to enough change that future systems may look very different than what we have now.
This article has suddenly made me connect the dots for something I’ve been noticing for some time, but until now I’ve merely puzzled over. I watch videos on YouTube, and I often read some of the comments. More and more I see commenters blaming “capitalism” in situations where it makes little or no sense, or at the least portrays a very poor understanding of both politics and the economy. Sometimes the comment is several sentences, blaming capitalism for whatever the subject of the video is, sometimes for reasons or in contexts that baffle me. At other times the entire comment consists of nothing more than the word, “Capitalism”, as if that explained everything. Sometimes I have let myself get pulled into replying, writing something along the lines of, “Do you realize that capitalism, for all its faults, has created more opportunities, more wealth, more jobs, more prosperity, more innovation than any other system humans have come up with so far? It’s imperfect, but which system is better?”
The other day I watched a short video of interviews of young people in Japan answering questions about Japanese customs of what is considered good manners in Japan and how well foreigners understand such customs in Japan when they visit, and what they think of the customs of other countries. (I know, but it was actually kind of interesting.) But there were comments that just said, “Capitalism.” Huh? But after reading this, now I get it!
Good article. I think it's fine to complain about a system while also taking part in it. I have a high paying, white collar job, but I don't like seeing people living in filth on the street while endless amounts of Teslas and SUVs roll by. The contrast makes me feel... icky. Not saying that homeless people didn't exist before capitalism, nor am I saying that there is a better system, but when you see a disparity like that it's easier to say 'Ugh, Capitalism' instead of 'I dislike observing huge wealth disparities.' Maybe I'm part of the problem.
I think part of this is coalition management. If I say that health care is too expensive because capitalism, it means I'm not saying "health care is too expensive because doctors charge too much", which doctors might have problems with.
See also: “the deep state,” “the patriarchy,” “whiteness,” “loss of family values,” etc.
The jerseys that the people wear are different, but the lazy argumentation is nearly always the same.
What others am I missing?
Pemex is still a for-profit business. Why do capitalists pretend it's not capitalism if a government is involved? It's no different than if Pemex were wholly-owned by a private equity firm.