Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Failure of Capitalism

Capitalism is a great engine for economic change and wealth creation, but it is a terrible tool to achieve social justice, i.e. a "fair" distribution of economic rewards. That is the claim of Umair Haque:

The details of the accusation that capitalism has failed:
  • The inability to create jobs

  • Median income is stagnant

  • The grotesque income inequality

  • Prosperity is an illusion

  • The creation of terrible pollution

  • The pervasive slums it creates
He is willing to admit that capitalism can take a pre-industrial society and provide a great rise in incomes, but once you get to a post-industrial society, capitalism fails us.

I hope he is right about us being in a period of "transformative change", but my gut level assessment is that he is a glib business school type, i.e. he is a snake oil salesman (e.g. "institutions creating thicker more meaningful more authentic value"). His ideas glitter but there is no substance. I would rank him up there with business consultant Tom Peters who published the book In Search of Excellence identifying so-called "excellent" companies to be emulated just as these very companies all began imploding and going bankrupt.

When I compare him talking about technology, business, and change I don't hear the solid discussion of concepts and history that I saw in Peter Drucker. Instead, I hear a smooth talker with words that sound seductive but have no real substance that I can identify. I hope I'm wrong, but the impression I get from the above interview is that Haque is a will-o-wisp.

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