FROM STUART COOKE
The news media talks to the news media and not to laymen and what the film director Roberto Rosselleini called the spread of "semi-culture." Semi-culture is the fact that people talk about things they don't know. They use words like "inflation", "balance of payments", "unemployment", "communism", and "capitalism' but they don't know anything about them. (Me, too, haha)
Branko Milanovic defines capitalism as "privately owned capital, hired labor, and decentralized coordination". But before exploring this further, it's important to know or ask first, "What is Capitalism for?" It's a way to organize material things and services so that human beings can provide for their earthly needs. What's called a "mode of production."
To make it more concrete, the capitalist model requires: land, money, gold, other assets which are owned by individual entities—people or companies (private capital) combined with employees (paid labor) and a social/political environment where people are free to set up any business they like (decentralized organization).
The alternative models we've had up to now are the communist model and the feudal model. Both of those models failed because it did not produce enough of the the things and services people needed. (Will explain how other models might become possible 200 years from now, but for the time being capitalism is it.)
While economics has been around forever, it was Adam Smith, a Brit, who developed the general framework of what we think of as economics today in his 1776 book "The Wealth of Nations." He defined the inputs of economics as land, labor, land, and capital. Henceforward until the early 20th century, economics belonged to the field of what was called "Political Economy", meaning the work of economists and other thinkers focused on both money and politics, how the two could work together to provide maximum benefits for people. Afterwards the "political" part gradually disappeared and with it the field became focused on money only. (more on this later)
What's important i think to understand now is that capitalism or the free-market economy has run wild and free since it came into its modern form in the 18th century. It's raped the planet, produced global warming, killed millions of people, and produced world chaos and gross inequality. The reason is that there's not been a countervailing human, non-materialist, moral, value-based force to guide it. it's like a child in a toy store or in front of a table of desserts. It has no idea what it's doing. It grabs and eats as much as it can, not knowing it's making itself sick.
The only exceptions i know to this are in the northern countries of Denmark, Sweden, Holland, and the Netherlands where those governments have stepped in to prevent the excesses of the rest of the world though government regulation.
Me and Dad canoeing - in the early 80s I'm guessing. East coast somewhere near Washington DC.
My father Stuart Cooke lives in Jakarta, Indonesia where he works on urban planning projects, writes, tells stories and emails me answers to questions and thoughts on global politics, art and the human experience.