Four TEDx talks – from a journalist, a moral psychologist, an activist / political economist and a social entrepreneur – on what capitalism is and how we could/should evaluate it.
“There is growing pressure for investors to factor morality into business decisions. In Current Anthropology, scholars Marina Welker and David Wood take an anthropological approach to dissecting how the tension between shareholding and personhood has played out in different corporations.”
“A free-market economy epitomises the traditional concept of solidarity. No system ever devised has been as conducive to peace, prosperity, and the deconstruction of social and cultural barriers as capitalism.”
“Interest fuels the financial world. […] But under Islamic law, interest is explicitly forbidden. In fact, the guidance comes directly from the Quran. So how do finance, debt and all of the ways we get money in the conventional banking system work if you can’t charge interest?”
“the Australian Bankers’ Association (ABA) has been running a national advertising campaign in which bank branch staff talk about who benefits from bank profits. […] The ABA says bank profits ‘don’t belong to the banks, they belong to everyday Australians like you.’ Is that right?”
“Peter Kolozi’s new book Conservatives Against Capitalism showcases a conservatism uncomfortable with free-market capitalism – which adherents see as revolutionary and disruptive of tradition – and traces its origins from the antebellum South, to the election of Donald Trump, profiling a remarkable coterie of thinkers who rejected the tenets of capitalism and urged a conservatism based on humane values, smallholding, and even a more powerful state.”
“One of the first things economics students learn about is Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP is also a central concept in many political debates, including Brexit. Will it rise? Will it fall? What effect will this have on our lives?”
“Because knights were strong, so knighthood was celebrated in songs and poems, and yet the violent culture that underpinned their position only led to further bloodshed – until the rise of the merchants swept them away. Although a number of things contributed to the huge decline in violence of the late medieval period, among them the Catholic Church and the legal system, the development of capitalism, and the rise of a merchant class whose wealth was not won with a sword, played a huge part.”
“Two questions: is it good or bad that professional athletes earn 400 times what nurses do, and is string theory a dead end? Each question goes to the heart of its discipline. Yet while you probably answered the first, you’d hold an opinion on the prospects of string theory only if you’ve studied physics. That annoys economists, who wonder why everyone feels free to join economic debates instead of leaving them to the experts, as they do with physics or medicine.”
To more fruitfully discuss the morality of markets it may be a good idea to learn more about markets: what are they, how do they work (and possibly fail)? In the sixth post in this series some massive open online courses (MOOCs) in economics on the workings of markets.
“On one hand, the core of his message rings true: We are consuming and abusing resources that are, by definition, finite. On the other hand, the book is too pessimistic and sceptical – it underestimates the power of new and innovative technologies and overemphasises the negative impact of consumerism.”
“When major construction company Carillion collapsed, much of the attention was focused on issues specific to its business model and corporate governance, or on the UK’s PFI model of funding large infrastructure projects. Yet such explanations miss the broader lessons of this tragedy. […] the view that competition among public service providers will necessarily lead to improved services at lower costs is no longer tenable.”
“Nobel laureate Kenneth Arrow once described trust as a ‘lubricant of a social system’. Economic exchange, in particular, is virtually impossible without at least some level of trust. […] Trust can affect people’s ways of communicating, their workplace etiquette and their organisational hierarchies, all of which may constitute important stumbling blocks in international collaborations. And so to ensure success of global trade, we need to understand and make allowances for cultural differences in trust. In our latest research, we set out to do just that.”
“There is a widespread perception that mental ill health is on the rise in the West, in tandem with a prolonged decline in collective well-being. […] In particular, there is growing concern that the conditions and effects of neoliberalism – the enervating whirl of relentless privatisation, spiralling inequality, withdrawal of basic state support and benefits, ever-increasing and pointless work demands, fake news, unemployment and precarious work – is partly to blame.”
“Despite the huge difference capitalism has made to our standard of living, capitalism has its detractors. Socialists and progressives want to regulate it, control it, or eliminate it, but capitalism’s biggest enemies are those who claim to support it.”