Post-COVID Economy Re-imagining Capitalism in America

Axios on Wednesday September 23, 2020, hosted a conversation on how people are working to change the status quo and start building a truly equal, democratic society. The live streamed conversation featured Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Director of Harvard’s Democratic Knowledge Project, Danielle Allen, Director of Harvard’s Edmond j. Safra Center for Ethics and John Hope Bryant, founder and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Ventures.

One of the guest was Mike Kubzansky – CEO Omidyar Network who believes that markets are not laws of physics, they are actually built by political economy and interest and power and ideas which means they can also be rebuilt in different ways and unbuilt in important ways as well.

When asked whether we need lot more regulations in terms of our mentality of governance, he commented, “It’s not simply about regulation. We will take it one step further up, which is to say we comment this as a capitalist who want to reimagine capitalism – and so underneath that, we think that there are five pillars. They are not specific policies, but the aspects of the economy that need to be brought into a different balance then they are now.

So first of all he said “before you get to the idea of regulations, we will organize the economy around a narrow set of values, around shareholder primacy and efficiency, that’s insufficient doesn’t reflect how Americans lived their life today. We need to also anchor the economy around shared values and ideas, around dignity, economic security and freedom to engage in the economy and our democracy.”

Second he mentioned “before the NLRA, we need to build an economy that’s inclusive and takes actively on an anti-racist position to undo the legacies of the past.”

“Third and this is what your question gets out, we need to do some rebalancing of government markets and community. We struck the balance in one direction heavily and that has led us to under regulate – frankly – harmful economic monopolies. Once concentration is up in 17 of 20 key economic sectors in the American economy, that’s not good for competition, that’s not good for dynamism,” said Mike

Fourth, he added “that need to be active counter-weights both in economy and elsewhere to concentrate its power, to govern where it happens, but also to corporate power. And so that’s why we see issues like worker power being important.”

And finally he concluded, “we think we need to modernize the economy to take into account today’s massive disruptions which weren’t in account 50 years ago like climate, pandemics and technology. And so the way the AI rolls out in the workplace, right now is the choice we have made by the way, we prioritize shareholders. But it doesn’t have to be that way.”

John Hope Bryant, founder and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Ventures while commenting on whether it’s possible for most people to live in dignity under a capitalist system, said “I would say it’s almost impossible to live in a system where you cannot express your self-determination. Capitalism is a horrible thing just like democracy. So I think it’s entirely possible. But without the tools, the game is even painful.”

Danielle Allen, Director of Harvard’s Edmond j. Safra Center for Ethics while commenting on the best way to curb the growth of income in equality, commented that “What we really need to do is to shift our focus in our economic policy from questions of distribution and redistribution to production i.e. we need to re-empower labor in the context of production so that the solvents made as firms, structure employment, are already in themselves, fair. If we can do that, we can start shifting productivity gains back in more egalitarian direction, already as the part of the process of production. So, rather than accepting structure of employment, that in its self, delivers inequitable results, we want to re-organize the structure of employment.”

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