Inclusive capitalism

June 3, 2014 

If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times. We should be good stewards of the environment. Take care of the planet. We should treat workers with dignity and pay them fairly. Income and wealth inequality have become a grave epidemic. We need to spread the wealth. The rules are made by the rich to favor the rich.

Those tree-hugging, bleeding-heart, latte-drinking, Volvo-driving, socialist, liberal, progressive Democrats never stop. Except this is not the sentiment of the usual suspects.

This was expressed at the Inclusive Capitalism conference held in London by Lynn Forester de Rothschild of the famed Rothschild banking family. An estimated 250 of the wealthiest people, who control $30 trillion dollars or one-third of the entire world's wealth, attended.

Rothschild said, "It's true that the business of business is not to solve society's problems. But it is really dangerous for business when business is viewed as one of society's problems. And that is where we are today."

But don't despair. This capitulation is not about renouncing greed and power but more as Ari Shapiro, columnist covering this event, says: "The titans of commerce and finance didn't necessarily fly to this meeting in London out of a sense of ethics or moral duty, though that may be a motivation for some.

For many, says Rothschild, "it's a sense of self-preservation." What she means is that you can only take so much before you have to give a little back (inclusive capitalism).

In 1981 Ronald Reagan said, "Government is not the solution to our problems, government is the problem." He had it wrong. Lynn Forester de Rothschild has it right.

Business is the problem. I'm speaking of businesses — not in the sense of those making an honest profit, but those like the Kochs and businesses behind organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council which dictates public policy for the private good. Without business tentacles in policy making and their false propaganda, we could truly solve our societal problems.

Take welfare, for instance. You can reduce the welfare burden by raising wages so people no longer qualify for welfare. Most businesses and their Republican advocates tell you it will kill jobs and raise costs. It's a lie. Here's a one word answer, Costco.

The average Costco worker makes $45,000 yearly compared to $17,500 for a Walmart worker. If the propaganda is true, Costco would have laid-off all their workers. It raises costs. If that's true why does anyone shop there? Costco workers aren't on welfare. Walmart workers are. Welfare problem solved.

John Boehner says "where are the jobs?" Republicans blocked the following job creation bills: Veterans Benefits and Pay Restoration Act of 2014; American Jobs Act; Bring Jobs Home Act; Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act; Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act of 2011. Unblock it and Boehner would have seen jobs. Job problem solved.

Prison overcrowding is another societal problem. If we got business out of the way, there would be no overcrowding problem. Privatization of prisons has become a cash cow. When prisoners become a profitable commodity, it's only natural that businesses want to get more of them. If you look at the lobbying of Corrections Corporations of America, a for-profit private prison company, you'll find they are pushing for harsher prison sentences for minor infractions, much of it related to possession of marijuana. Eliminate prison privatization and legalize marijuana – overcrowding solved.

We have an obesity epidemic. It costs us $190 billion a year. The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 established dietary standards for public schools and we've seen noticeable improvements. The Republican controlled House is pushing a measure to let schools opt out of the standard. Why? Could the answer lie in the food industry backing the House measure? We have a working solution for childhood obesity and business is attempting to undermine it.

Surely, solving these issues is more complex but I've kept it simple to illustrate Lynn Forester de Rothschild's revelation that business is the problem. Imagine a world of common-sense-policy solutions, putting people ahead of greed. That world exists in the land where money has minimal impact on politics or people are willing to see through the lies and propaganda and speak out.

The existence of the Inclusive Capitalism summit suggests that they hear us. What they do depends on how loud we get. Express yourself in a letter to the editor.

"Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul." – Edward Abbey.

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