My friend Jamal Edwards (#demninefoes stand ALL the way up) has a daily live podcast called the Jamalcast, and today he spoke about the juxtaposition of compassion and capitalism in the healthcare field. He spoke of seeking services from providers that seem to lack concern for their patients experience and favor the faster and bigger method to healthcare, to bring in more money in a shorter amount of time. During his video he said (I’m paraphrasing) that while there is nothing inherently wrong with capitalism, that it could be practiced with a greater level of care and compassion. I concur emphatically!
In fact, I offer that this model is applicable across the spectrum.
In order to better understand these concepts and how they could meld, let’s start with the more complex of the two.
cap·i·tal·ism /ˈkapədlˌizəm/ noun: an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state( from Oxford Dictionary).
Capitalism is the economic system in America. A democratic republic is the political system. The very clean definition of capitalism above doesn’t really delve into its most intimate spaces. Capitalism starts with private ownership, sure. But in the middle parts, it creates a system of haves and have nots that need each other to survive. Capitalism is given this homemade, warm, fuzzy feeling by wrapping it in these three words : The American Dream.
The idea being if you work hard you can be and do anything you can dream of, because opportunity in America is limitless. That is certainly true for some of us. But you know damn well they never meant for a 3/5ths person to be able to have it all! More on that in a bit. But anyway, the fact is that if I’m a private owner, I need workers. Some of my workers will make a living wage. Arguably, some will not, in order for me to make a profit off of my goods and services.
About 40-80% of a companies gross budget goes to salaries. Amazon made 10.1 billion net profit in 2018, and it’s thousands of sales, delivery, customer service, and labor workers are bringing home a little over $16,000, which is poverty level for a family of two. The only way I can profit that much money requires saving money somewhere… and lower and entry level labor focused jobs are likely where. It’s a proven fact that these jobs are disproportionately held by minorities.That is one example of how this divide begins. Big business versus the people.
That’s not compassionate capitalism.
com·pas·sion /kəmˈpaSHən /noun: sympathetic concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others (from Oxford Dictionary).
I would like to believe I am extremely compassionate towards those who are less fortunate than me. I give of my money and time to charity, charitable organizations, and do my own person and family based giving during the cold Michigan winters. But if I had 10.1 billion, I’d be giving giving. As much as I like Gucci and I don’t like people… and a lot of them I don’t, I am against human suffering, hunger, illness, pain, and trauma. I would be doing all I could to help those who needed it if I had it. I could still be a have and bring some people with me there.
Be clear, I’m not promoting a totally free market, a socialist or communist framework, or any other type of economy. I do, however, believe that the a system based on the creation of wealth via supply and demand (capitalism) versus an exchange of wealth via supply and demand (free market) lends itself to the have and have nots more readily. If the demand of an item creates wealth, those with greater access will control the supply and leave out small entrepreneurs and underpay its labor force. And anytime you have a have not, there is someone suffering financially. Compassion is anti-suffering.
So what does compassionate capitalism look like?
Well I have an idea. Imagine that!
First, I don’t think there is inherently anything wrong with the notion that if you work hard you can take advantage of the wealth of opportunity in America. Compassionate capitalism would ensure that those opportunities are available to those that want them, offered wide enough for every segment of the population to access them (every segment… women, minorities, LGBTQ individuals, the handicapped, etc.), and based on a combination of diversity of thought and merit in light of that open access to ensure you are pulling from a wealth of experiences and backgrounds. Creativity depends upon the latter.
Second, I am a fan of a free market economy that has stop gaps for government intervention when the free market fails. In Hong Kong, likely the freest market in the world, healthcare is seeing its fair share of failures as its supply outweighs the demand of its aging population. In this instance, the government needs to have legislation in place that prevents these types of public health crises. The same would be true for education, housing, civil rights, environment and other areas of concern that could lead to human harm. I don’t see anything wrong with creating wealth, but not over creating humanity.
Third, and ultimately the bottom line, no 2% of any people should hold 50% of accumulated wealth, when 15% of the people cannot afford food, clothes, and shelter. The government should ensure that everyone has food, a place to live, education, and healthcare… even if it is only the simplest of those things. It is, after all, a function of the U. S. Constitution, which sets up the government, to “promote the general welfare” and those should include the economic welfare, social security and justice, and civil rights of the people.
Compassionate Capitalism is ultimately up to us to implement. I know when I’m an ever bigger have, I’ll be grabbing hands and pulling them up instead of grabbing legs and pulling folks down. We can create enough wealth to share and exchange…
Let’s get this money and this love y’all!!!!
Check out the Jamalcast : Opinions About Everything
By the way, I love Kid President. He’s more like a Young Man President now, but he was the bees knees! 😍