Equality and Capitalism
Good afternoon from Westminster, MD!
I am a conservative and a believer in the power of Capitalism when it operates with a conscious. I am also a believer in equality for all and would now consider myself an “Antiracist”. To many people these two sentences seem to be in conflict. This fact is both saddening and interesting to me. This perceived dichotomy is earned in some cases and unfairly attributed in other cases. However, in whichever way this perception came to be, conservatives and Conscious Capitalists (the concept of Conscious Capitalism is described in John Mackey and Raj Sisodia’s book by the same name) need to change it. We need to become Antiracist Conscious Capitalists.
The problem with Capitalism at it pertains to racism is not inherent. In other words, Capitalism as a system is not built on a premise of racism. I strongly believe Capitalism is the best system for creating true opportunity and solving issues of poverty. Conscious Capitalism says all stakeholders should be taken into account, including employees, humanity, and the environment. It is a “socially responsible economic and political philosophy” as described by Mackey and Sisodia. Capitalism has allowed many people to build businesses and change lives, including my parents who have been blessed by and been a blessing to others through the business they started over thirty years ago. The problem is not Capitalism itself, but rather who has had access to the benefits of Capitalism.
As a white male, I have had full access to the benefits of Capitalism as did my parents. This does not mean it has always been easy, but it does mean that the system has provided me and my family with an incredible amount of opportunity over the years. I recognize that every person’s story is different and that some white people have not had the same opportunities I have been afforded. However, in general, the white community has been allowed to benefit from the fruits of Capitalism for many generations.
The story is different for many People of Color. Whereas my family had access to capital in various forms and were treated fairly by the system, many People of Color and Black people in particular have been systematically and/or functionally excluded from the system. This does not mean that some Black people and other People of Color have not benefited from the system, but the road they have taken to get there has been considerably harder than mine as a white male. By not allowing People of Color to equally benefit from Capitalism over the years, we have created injustice, inequality, and pockets of hopelessness and poverty. When we say People of Color should just “pull themselves up by their boot strings” we ignorantly discount their story and reality. Conscious Capitalism can work for all, but everyone needs to be given equal access to the opportunities it creates.
Our inability to recognize the systemic racism issues in our system as Conservative Capitalists is making our voice irrelevant and giving Capitalism a bad name. When we dismiss the impact systemic racism has had of People of Color, we reinforce the narrative that Capitalism is inherently racist and unjust. If we are unwilling to comes to terms with the fact that People of Color and Black people in particular have been excluded from the benefits of a Capitalist society, we are writing our own death sentence as influencers of society. However, it does not have to be this way.
We can choose to stand up and be Antiracist Capitalists. This means recognizing the injustice and inequality that exists, and equaling the playing field so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of Conscious Capitalism. This will require real steps and investments as a society, but the benefits far outweigh the costs. Imagine a society in which flourishing was possible for everyone? I see no downside – economically, social, emotionally – to a society in which everyone has the opportunity to thrive.
Racism costs everyone, not just its victims. You cannot sit on the fence. You are either against racism or for it, whether by commission or omission. I choose to be an Antiracist. I choose to be a Capitalist. I choose to believe they do not have to be mutually exclusive. Do you?
Very well written James. I do have a question though. Which companies will be willing to provide capital to someone without a good credit history? Do you have any thoughts on that?
Hi, thanks! That is a great question. I would say it could be multifaceted. The Federal Government could create an insurance fund to allow banks to provide capital to borrowers lacking good credit history. I could also see community-driven sources of capital similar to what is done in some micro-financing situations. For example, the government and/or an organization could provide the initial capital and people within a particular community could hold each other accountable. Basically, people are motivated to payback funds and hold others accountable to do the same as any defaults reduce the capital available in the future. I could also see crowd-funding options such as Kiva. This allows individuals to invest in someone directly. I will keep thinking about it, but those are some initial options that come to mind. Thanks!