The Two-Minute Treatment series is for people who are too busy and need help now. As with all treatments, if you need to, please take time to research the links before just jumping in. If you don’t need lots of footnotes and “science,” just go for it.
Income inequity and capitalism are getting well-deserved scrutiny. Behind the trouble with each: greed.
Sure, it’s not fair. Nothing ever was. Let’s get over that right away so we can get to the real issue here: greed.
This two-minute treatment for capitalism will focus on its biggest pitfall: greed.
A capitalist mind game
Here’s a greed-based scenario we can work with:
If America were in economic danger, would America’s billionaires rush in with their wealth to save their country? Is America #TooBigtoFail? It’s a fair question, and one that some influences think is already an option inside the Washington DC Beltway: let’s just seize assets from the ultra-wealthy until the books balance.
Unless America’s billionaires “volunteer” to help, of course.
Social Security going bust? Nationalize a corporation or two (Amazon could deliver; Google already knows how). Are rents too high? Seize the property and apply rent control. Doesn’t the Patriot Act permit asset “forfeiture” in the name of national security? Big Brother knows best.
Now, here’s the game: how did we get into this mess? Ready…go!
Many have begun to answer that question in one word: capitalism.
Where it all goes wrong
Capitalism is about creating wealth. Socialism is about spending it. Both capitalism and socialism are very, very good at what they do. Let’s focus on capitalism.
There’s a huge incentive built into capitalistic systems to continue to increase the wealth they generate. That’s a good thing…until the amount of money flowing through the capitalistic system gets pinched off. Our default human setting is not yet altruistic, so capitalist societies generally trend more toward retaining wealth than distributing it, which is one big way that capitalistic wealth gets pinched off.
Like water, money works best when it’s in motion. One of the factors pinching off the huge flow of money generated by capitalism is greed. It’s our current default human setting: save for a rainy day. The trouble is, greed has created a kind of funding drought in many places in the world.
So our two-minute treatment for capitalism (properly used, it’s potentially a good thing) starts with greed (always a limiting thing when it comes to the flow of money).
What’s the opposite of greed? Generosity? There are probably other opposites, but let’s go with generosity for now.
The science on how we act is that we get more of how we act. That is, practice hoarding wealth and one finds it easier and easier to sustain greed. On the other hand, practice more generosity and one can expect more of that.
So, even though it sounds trite, but it’s true:
to de-activate capitalistic greed, activate capitalistic generosity.
Bet you can do that in less than two minutes. Best part? You can start being more generous without spending a dime. Offer more of your time. More of your attention. More mentoring. Start a ripple of generosity right where you are. But look out: generosity is contagious, and that ripple will spread and infect others. It can’t be hidden forever.
With this new generosity practice, you may become aware that you live or work in an environment that’s suddenly toxic. Nice. Time for a change. It’s either that or you, too, have thrown your lot in with greed. No middle ground here, sorry. There’s no way to be neutral. You can’t claim to be greed-less and generosity-less and expect to be a fulfilled member of the human race. The human race needs you to take a side. Besides that, it’s just crazy not to.
We get more what we practice.
The two-second treatment for capitalism and greed
Practice generosity. Take two seconds to smile at the homeless person outside the coffee shop. Take two seconds to thank a co-worker. Two seconds to lock eyes with your significant other and just be there together.
If you are a successful capitalist, start rolling back the perception that we’re all greedy. Buy that homeless person a cuppa. Better yet, spend a few minutes with them over coffee and learn what it means to be generous with both your time and your treasure.
Are you getting this?
Sure, there are plenty of ways to treat capitalism positively. Generosity is just one. But it’s a start. Try it.
Reach out. You’re not the only one dealing with road rage, whether its unwanted or completely justified. Contact us. Or pick up the book More Than Human – The Value of Cultivating the Human Spirit in Your Organization.