Social capital

Dear Editor:

Finally something both our left and right politicians agree upon: The ladder of opportunity in the U.S. has almost disappeared for the ordinary citizen. So, let’s ask the obvious question: Should Darwinian capitalism be dead?

To be fair, pure Darwinian capitalism produced success for a few and jobs for the masses. And that was good … right? Or did it just lead to labor unions and next to retrograde industrial retards (now, now, they’re not all Republicans). I think choice was the best outcome of this economic tactic. But the dilemma of choice is failure. The conundrum for most of us is the more choice we have, the more we want higher quality simplicity.

So, who and what systems today offer simplicity? Clearly only the religious fundamentalists or far right politics offer minimal choice with holy grail-like rewards. But, to obtain their rewards you have to believe in pure fantasy.

All agree that the primary drivers for a stronger ladder of opportunity are social capital (strong support for all levels of individuals, families and groups; city layout (access to jobs) and public policy (oooh, more nasty government). Those nations and cities (Salt Lake City, Utah) that are today investing heavily in all their children (including immigrants) have the strongest ladder of opportunity. Canada has more foreign born citizens and a more accessible ladder.

Is individual innovation the last best hope for Darwinian capitalists? For the past two decades, the majority of innovation is coming through an individual’s idea, assisted through collaboration of others (think Microsoft or Google). E. S. Phelps calls this “Mass Flourishing.” Before you throw yourself on the floor, I admit government is a limited answer. But culture and tradition can only take us so far as a nation and then it must be supported by strong social capital — and that can only come from cooperation of intelligent, insightful, public minded government and private leadership. As long as it’s me, me, me and tax havens, failure is imminent.

Dave Blake

This story was posted on August 22, 2013.