What drives us humans to do what we do, whether it is good or bad? If we can find the right motivations and rewards, maybe we can change our collective behavior for good. The for-profit model of capitalism promises us wealth and prosperity which most people welcome and desire. When the Western business world spreads the gospels of capitalism, how much do they also spread the myths that money is the most valuable object in the world and the accumulation of it is the be-all and end-all solution to any problems in the world? Deep down inside, we know money cannot be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or the panacea for all ills, but somehow, we act and behave as if it is.
To most people, money definitely is a proxy that conveys decent livelihood – food, shelter, clothing, comfort, security, stability, education, health care, retirement, freedom, mobility, self-worth, self-esteem, future, etc., none of which is considered too grandiose or even too unreasonable judged by the Western standards. Wishing for a decent livelihood is not morally wrong, so seeking money to support a decent livelihood is also not morally wrong. So, what is wrong in making money following the capitalist model?
We believe that money by itself is not the culprit. Money is just a currency, a medium or a means to an end. We have much deeper and more intractable problems with excessive profit-seeking and greed that misguide and misdirect the economy under capitalism. Capitalist opportunists co-opt the promotion of profit and greed.
Capitalism builds on the premise that the more money exchanges through commerce and trade, the more wealth it can create to benefit more people. From one end of the spectrum, one can see that it is a giant pyramid scheme that ensnares the participants in this endless cycle of eternal consumerism through perpetual indentured servitude (paid employment) as admission fee while ignoring the collateral damage to everything else in the process. From the other end of the spectrum, someone else can see that it is the only perpetual growth engine that can guarantee to bring progress, advancement, prosperity and mostly good things to the swelling human population of the world with certain imperfections but definitely with the ends justifying the means.
The two contrasting views are both true to some extent. Money and profit are in the front and center of both the driving and destructive forces of our current economy. How do we take money and profit out of the capitalist equation and still make it work to bring progress and prosperity? We think it is time to introduce new equations. With profit being the ultimate motivation and reward in any economic endeavors but also landing our planet in the current hot mess, the capitalist equation is ripe for revision and worth revisiting. We recall the equation that demonstrates how businesses actually make money and have some suggestions to update it.
Out comes the old:
Revenue – Expenses = Profit
Motivation + Reward = Profit + Money
In comes the new:
Motivation + Reward = Purpose + Beauty
Purpose + Beauty = Happiness
Happiness > Profit + Money
We need to motivate people to work, to produce and maintain our livelihoods, to occupy our time meaningfully, to make the best use of our productive labor, and to contribute and build progress and prosperity continually, but also to make the world a better place for everyone, all sustainably. We have falsely hoped that the capitalist economy will achieve all these goals, but it has not succeeded, especially with the last one.
Currently, we feel that we need the capitalist economy to sustain us, but it is simply not true. Capitalism is a theory that espouses a certain set of rules and regulations that we artificially develop and follow to conduct our economic activities and inform the workings of our economy. Capitalism is not immutable. We constantly add and change those rules and regulations that ultimately make capitalism worse or better for certain portions of the populace. With or without capitalism, we have been around and we will be around. We have created capitalism and we should be in the driver’s seat. We can create, adopt and practice a new theory to adjust to our new requirements, if and when we choose to. We are the catalysts to make the change for it to work for us all and we can make it happen in NATORZ.
Let us imagine what if…