I am neither an economist nor political scientist. What I am is an observant person who follows trends and trusts his instincts–and this is what mine are telling me about the future of capitalism.
Capitalism, arguably the greatest wealth creation system ever invented, has at least three tremendous tendencies embedded within it that cannot be suppressed. It’s desire to increase profits requires it to seek unlimited power and to eliminate people from the equation.
First, I believe labor, as we currently understand it, will not exist in the capitalistic markets of the future. A human workforce has any number of associated financial and non-financial costs which work against the goal of maximizing profits. These include living wages, insurance, safety, union organization, and psychodynamics to name but a few. Historically, factories locate in an area where labor is plentiful and inexpensive. When labor cost begin to rise they look for new markets to lower costs. It always helps if local governmental regulations favors business instead of workers. The El Dorado of management will one day arrive when the need for human labor may be eliminated altogether via automation and robotics. Already, computerized automation systems are being created that will eliminate the need for most pharmacists, burger workers, coffee baristas, insurance agents, college professors, and the like. I do not know what future peoples will be doing each day of their lives–but I feel certain that most will not have jobs as they do today.
Secondly, capitalism is always seeking to expand its base of power. As corporations seek to gain advantage in the market place, it uses profits to gain influence and control over the political environment. There are many ways legal and illegal ways it can do this–though most do not have to resort to illegal methods since politicians are more than willing to create partner systems that benefit both. Increasingly in America, corporations are given extra-judicial power from combat fighting in foreign lands to red-light cameras in almost every municipality. Corporations have used their influence to pass laws which favor them and allow them to avoid paying taxes at home. Many corporations have budgets which exceed small and moderate nations. Many have their own banking system. In the future, corporations will have resources and authority that rival today’s superpowers. In the most recent financial crash, the capitalistic system found a way for citizens to monetize its financial losses and keep it’s financial profits through favored legislation.
Capitalism is impersonal. It exists for itself and gives benefits to others only when it is clear that it benefits profit. In the pursuit of profit, corporations routinely deny medical care, insurance coverage, increases in wages and benefits to the people who work for them and the community in which they reside. Its logic exists only for increased profits and power. They use their financial resources to bring lawsuits against any who oppose them. They insist upon violating the privacy rights of those who work for them and cooperate with national and international authorities in providing extra judicial personal information. This impersonal nature of capitalism will continue to devalue the human experience. Today, capitalism seeks to reduce it’s responsibilities toward labor and people. In the robotic future–where no human employees are needed, capitalism will resent the resources required to sustain and support local communities–and will look for ways to assume little, if any, personal responsibility.
In the end, the capitalistic wealth system will find a way to eliminate most, if not all jobs, control all national and personal wealth while enjoying the blessings of the state to wield most all authority–in service to itself. If it isn’t already too late, we are fast approaching the time when it will be too late for concerned citizens to create a system of checks and balances to stop the juggernaut.