The New Capitalism Isn’t Really Capitalism

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Economics was the only course I ever failed. It just didn’t make sense to me. I pay a bit more attention to it now but I can’t say I understand it much better now.

No one will ever invite me to places like the World Economic Forum in Davos but I read an article from the 2022 event that mentioned “New Capitalism.”

From what I read, this concept comes from Japan where well-being has expanded “from a personal state of happiness to an inclusive shift in the way society and the economy operates.” Their government’s “new capitalism” aims to balance growth and redistribute wealth.

I have heard the idea of redistributing wealth used in U.S. economic discussions but it seemed to be a more literal wealth rebalancing. This Japanese new capitalism doesn’t really sound like the general American concept of capitalism at all. It puts greater value on well-being, people, and the planet, and not just profit.

“Well-being” always seemed to me to be a medical term. The “wellness office” became a term I saw given to a medical facility in an institution that might have been called the infirmary or the nursing station in the last century. In the new capitalism, well-being is more comprehensive and includes fulfilling emotional and physical aspects and the safety and enrichment of culture, food, and the environment.

Klaus Schwab’s book, The Great Narrative (The Great Reset) considers how the world has evolved since the pandemic started and what solutions can make us more resilient, equitable and sustainable. Schwab said at Davos that “As the world inevitably moves in a direction that uses a different lens to measure progress and becomes more conscious of the need to preserve what GDP doesn’t measure (like biodiversity and social cohesion), we may take the view, at least in rich countries, that living with a few basis points of lower GDP growth doesn’t amount to a catastrophe”.

But this new form of capitalism does not ignore profit and capital and Japan is strategizing to use it to revive its economy. Better awareness of well-being among individuals, organizations, and society, sounds like a good thing. It also sounds like a radical shift.

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A lifelong educator on and off the Internet. Random by design and predictably irrational. It's turtles all the way down. Dolce far niente.

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