by Philip Kotler
With the fall of the Berlin Wall, one economic model emerged triumphant. Capitalism--spanning a spectrum from laissez faire to authoritarian--shapes the market economies of all the wealthiest and fastest-growing nations.
But trouble is cracking its shiny veneer. In the U.S., Europe, and Japan, economic growth has slowed down. China, for all its economic progress, is in a precarious position. Wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few; natural resources are exploited for short-term profit; and good jobs are hard to find.
The economic system is failing to deliver rising living standards for most Americans. Most of the gains from higher productivity are going to the rich. The middle class is getting smaller, the wages of the working class are lower in real terms than in the 1980s, and the really poor continue to constitute 15% of our citizens.
These outcomes are not necessary. Rather, they are the result of myopic policies supported by business interests and legislators who benefit disproportionately from the status-quo.
Are you worried about the growing role of money in politics? The shrinking middle class? Growing income inequality? Burdensome college debt?
What can we do to improve our economic system?
Our politicians are clamoring for your vote. Why not ask them where they stand on the real issues?
Do they favor raising the minimum wage? Raising the tax on higher incomes? Closing tax loopholes? Separating commercial banking from investment banking? Preserving Social Security, Medicare, Obamacare?
To that end, we're beginning a series of discussions on this site and on fixcapitalism.com on concrete proposals to address the 14 shortcomings of Capitalism.
The 14 shortcomings (there may be more) are as follows:
1. Proposes little or no solution to persistent poverty
2. Generates a growing level of income inequality
3. Fails to pay a living wage to billions of workers
4. Not enough human jobs in the face of growing automation
5. Doesn't charge businesses with the full social costs of their activities
6. Exploits the environment and natural resources in the absence of regulation
7. Creates business cycles and economic instability
8. Emphasizes individualism and self-interest at the expense of community and the commons
9. Encourages high consumer debt and leads to a growing financially-driven rather than producer-driven economy
10. Lets politicians and business interests collaborate to subvert the economic interests of the majority of citizens
11. Favors short-run profit planning over long-run investment planning
12. Should have regulations regarding product quality, safety, truth in advertising, and anti-competitive behavior
13. Tends to focus narrowly on GDP growth
14. Needs to bring social values, well being and happiness into the market equation.
Our main purpose is to get more Americans aware of these problems and aware of the many proposals to fix these problems. We need your participation.
In the weeks ahead, we will ask questions and look for real solutions - from readers, from experts, and from the policy makers and the politicians themselves.
Will you join us and share your ideas?
Philip Kotler is the S.C. Johnson & Son Distinguished Professor of International Marketing at the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management in Chicago. His most recent work is "Confronting Capitalism: Real Solutions for a Troubled Economic System."