the New Year has renewed my cravings for new visions and new paradigms. This is
singularly imperative since the old ones are not serving us well. Finishing the
book ENTERING THE SHIFT AGE by David Houle about this time has helped me
crystallize these ideas. Houle notes that societies have progressed through
“Shift” as he defines the coming age.
He means a shift into a more conscious, or more socially responsible,
cooperative way of living.
Perhaps “Consciousness,” or “Cooperative” age might have been more to
book, added to the recent exceptional article “How 21st century capitalism is
failing us (BMJ
2014;349:g7516) should give you reason to ponder as you too look into your own
Before you read, on please understand that like the rest of you I am a Capitalist. The
problem today is not Capitalism, but Crony-corrupted Capitalism. It is not
serving us well anymore. This article was published in a medical journal by
doctors who understand that our dysfunctional Health Care system is but a
reflection of larger economic, social, political, and even spiritual problems
rotting our society.
use the same tools I do to arrive at their conclusions: books written by the
best thinking minds of our time. For those who follow my radio show you will be
familiar with the three books highlighted in this article. And now, let’s step
aside and quote from it:
“[Capitalism] requires a thoroughgoing democratic transformation. It leads to unfair inequality
1. “The popularity of Thomas Piketty’s book Capital
was perhaps the publishing surprise of the year, but it is paradoxical for
Firstly, its 700 academic pages are hardly an
inviting bedside read.
Secondly, its appeal was primarily to people
already worried by rising inequality.
Thirdly, slower economic growth leads to faster
rises in inequality.”
2. Naomi Klein’s latest book, This
Changes Everything–Capitalism vs the Climate
“Large corporations, particularly fossil fuel
companies, have bought off governments and many environmental groups, watering
down policy proposals, legislation, and international environmental agreements.”
3. Nicholas Freudenberg’s Lethal but Legal.
“Food, alcohol, tobacco,
automobile, pharmaceutical, and gun industries are now the main sources of
damage to public health.
Endless conflicts between
public and corporate interests.
Corporations use their huge
advertising wealth, media, and political influence to defend themselves.
They pack regulatory systems
with people who will defend their interests, they buy politicians, and continue
to maximise the sales of their products in the face of massive evidence of
harm—from obesity, drunkenness, smoking related disease, environmental damage,
and so on.”
“Antisocial behaviour of big corporations is a
large political problem, their record on tax evasion provides it.
In 2008, the US Government Accountability
Office reported that 83 of the country’s biggest 100 corporations had
subsidiaries in tax havens.
“[There is a] status competition among consumers… Status anxiety is intensified by greater income inequality… more unequal societies give higher priority to buying status goods. They also work
longer hours, save less, get into debt more.
“Rather than benefiting from further economic
growth, health and happiness in rich countries is now better served by
improvements in the quality of social relations and community life.
“Greater equality would reduce consumerism and
improve the social environment.
Production is undertaken in the service of the
public good, humanity, and the planet.
The obstacle is that large corporations are so
powerful that our democratically elected politicians are afraid to touch them.
“Lobbying politicians and regulators by
pharmaceuticals, food processing, arms, energy, alcohol compromises the
democratic political process.
Solution: companies owned and controlled
directly or indirectly by some or all of their employees, companies with
varying degrees of employee representation on boards, consumer cooperatives,
mutuals, and credit unions.
Around half the member states of the EU have at
least some legal provision for employee representatives on company boards or
“Democratic companies not only have smaller
income differences within them but also enjoy higher productivity… Wholly
employee owned companies are also part of the solution to the increasing concentration
of capital ownership… More democratic businesses are more ethical.
Perhaps then our salvation lies in a thoroughgoing democratic transformation of capitalism.”
This is the only way we will
fix our broken health Care system.