Does capitalism have a nature?

Notes from Planet Earth

It seems to me that empathy is often lost in the hustle and bustle of corporate management. The short-term result of this empathic failure is often human misery of one sort or another (such as injury, environmental degradation, or loss of livelihood). A consequence of this latter result is often pressure for public action in the form of regulatory legislation - the bane of many capitalists. But without some regulation the economic benefits of capitalism can be significantly diminished over the longer term by what are termed the “externalities” of the operation, often experienced as increased health care costs and/or increased costs of doing business in the future. (Think of the costs of repairing the damage, both human and environmental, done in the Love Canal area by the unregulated disposal of toxins.)

Could it be that in this crowded world raw capitalism has outlived its usefulness and some new system may be needed which, while keeping many of the benefits of capitalism, generates much less human and environmental pathology than we are experiencing at present?

Questions and suggestions from readers are welcomed and will be responded to in future editions of this column. Contact me at cwdingman@frontiernet.net.

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