At the margins of public discussion are serious, educated, people thinking for themselves about the direction our times are taking. David Ellerman is one:
This is a paper written to further Richard Cornuelle’s abiding vision of a more responsible economy and posted here to invite comment. The basic idea is revisit the whole idea of a market economy dominated by absentee-owned and publicly traded corporations (“Wall Street Capitalism”) that disconnect companies (“the Mother of all disconnects”) from the natural desires of the people working in the companies to improve their communities. Locally-owned family firms, worker cooperatives, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), and even Japanese-style community firms are alternative forms of enterprises that are naturally more socially responsible. The point is not to assume large companies run by disconnected managers who need to be trained or incentivized to be more “socially responsible.” The point is to look at forms of corporate organization wherein the company staff can use their organized capacities to improve their own communities so that markets will naturally operate in a more responsible manner. Instead of only trying to make the philanthropic sector work better to clean up after irresponsible absentee-owned businesses; the idea is to make enterprises and markets more responsible in the first place.
Among the marginal, or heterodox, thinkers who might engage with some version of this critque are Catherine Austin Fitts, Bill Schambra, Albert Ruesga, Lenore Ealy, James Howard Kuntsler, Dmitry Orlov, Jon Husband, Dave Pollard and others of very diverse political views, and from very diverse traditions. What is hard to ignore is that absentee capitalism, Wall Street capitalism, the world of hedgefunds, IPOS, and profit maximization quarter to quarter is not the capitalism of the Scottish Englightenment or Rotary. When I visit Bridgespan and see their clients I can see, that yes, this is philanthropy - the .000001%, who own or control most of the world, working with a former Bain guy and his growing team of MBA consultants extrapolating an ideology they have no motive or ability to question, as masters of the universe, running all by metrics, and largely from a distance. The coming disruptions, the real disruptions, are not among those Clay Christiansen talks about, nor does it lead to a techno-utopia; it is the breakdown of the fragile, over managed, and increasingly unjust and unsustainable absentee owner measure and manage culture of unchecked winners, and the ecosystems their approach has destroyed through negative externalities - the necessary ingredient in this witch's brew of double triple quadruple bottomlines. When it all falls apart and we are pushed back down into local communities it will be the guy who can repair a bicycle or grow tomatoes, or distill ethyl alcohol from corn or woodchips, or pipe methane from the town dump, or run a black market in pantyhose who will be the local bigshot, warlord, or philanthropist. That guy or woman may finally create a market for Moral Tutorials that is sustainable, on a small scale, I can only hope. I am sure not getting much traction with hedge fund managers, though one did call me about improving the morals of his gardener. There was not much I could do, though, since I do not speak Spanish.