Time Heals All Wounds.. And Then Kills the Patient
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Tue Feb 8 00:10:29 2011
Intuitions of Ethical Capitalism

I am not a capitalist; I don't believe that capitalism, as a system, is a suitable way to serve the variety of interests that compose the public good. However, if I were to imagine a form of capitalism that would be less bad, I have some intuitions as to principles that would guide that. (I present one here; It may not be very different from ideas I've expressed before)

One of the problems with lassiez-faire markets is that they take a usable mechanism (incentivise productive labour by providing privilege) and implement it in a way that is dehumanising. In a previous writing, I sketched a transitional socialist model using this mechanism; here I suggest an ethical capitalist system; one with adjusted mechanisms for incentivisation.

The basic form of the intuition we consider is that productive labour leads to increased privilege. This privilege may be material, but it may take other forms as well. Labour is not necessarily physical labour; innovations and process improvements also may merit privilege. Capitalism as it exists in America does not lead to what I'd call absolute privilege; there are areas of our society where there are either minimums afforded to everyone (such as access to a lawyer) or where money cannot buy additional privilege (such as police protection, generally speaking). Ethical capitalism would take this further; the basics of health, safety, and dignity would be either given guaranteed minimums or afforded to everyone. On the other side of the intuition, activities that are not easily understood as productive should not generally need to rewards. In a capitalist market system, value is significantly decided by the market; it challenges the suppositions of such markets more seriously to attempt to harness them towards particular public interests, and few representative democracies would be capable of managing this through legislature without much better safeguards against corporate influences than any government we have today. Instead, having an active system of plebiscites to either ban certain business practices (such as short-selling) or adjust taxes associated with them would make them accountable directly to the people (and give industries organised around them reason to make very public arguments as to why they help the public good).