3.14. Our Great Global Crisis

There are big, big problems with unrestrained global capitalism. Here’s how to fix them.

The people of the world need to be able to hold their governments accountable.

But at least in democratic countries, there are ways we can do that.

Right now, though, big corporations have a frightening advantage that essentially makes them untouchable…and to make matters worse, it can’t be fixed within any one country.

The problem is big corporations have the flexibility to move operations to any country they want—and so they can basically force governments to adopt the policies they want by threatening to take their jobs and money elsewhere.

Say what you want about the pros and cons of other economic systems—but there are big, big problems with unrestrained global capitalism.

It’s exploitative. It’s vicious. It kills people.

It might even end up killing us all.

So many of our biggest social problems—from global warming and the obesity epidemic, to the exploding costs of education and health care, to the global recession we’re still recovering from—are the direct result of our inability to rein in our corporations.

There’s nothing complicated about business. It’s about the bottom line. Make money, however you can. Minimize costs, maximize profits—any way you can get away with it.

You have to keep growing. You have to keep outcompeting your competitors. Or you’re going to go out of business.

As Ursula Le Guin has observed: “we have, essentially, chosen cancer as the model for our [socioeconomic] system!”

After decades of our governments putting the interests of businesses over people, people are really angry.

But no matter which flavor of populism you subscribe to in your own country, you’ve got to understand this. It’s so, so important:

No amount of policy changes in one country alone can take away the unfair leverage our corporations have over our governments and us, the people.

If one country toughens up on corporations, but all the others don’t…the long-term result is going to a bad one. Because businesses will just go somewhere else, cut that rogue country out of the global economy, and keep chugging along.

So the solution to this has to be global.

It has to involve the people of the world coming together—in a way they haven’t yet done in human history—to compel the governments of the world to take a unified stand against this exploitative, underregulated, out-of-control brand of global capitalism.

It has to be unified. It has to be coordinated. It has to take away the ability of corporations to just move somewhere else, whenever they have to comply with policies they don’t like.

Is it going to be a challenge? Oh yeah.

But extrapolate the anger and frustration people feel right now ten years into the future.

Extrapolate ten more years of rising temperatures and sea levels.

Ten more years of economic exploitation and stagnation.

Ten more years of people dying because of the way this system works.

It’s hard to get 200 countries to do anything together—but they’re already most of the way there on global warming. Is it really so outlandish to think we, the people of the world, can’t pressure them to do more?

I think that’s exactly what we need to do.

And our very survival might depend on it.


This is the 58th in a series of over 150 videos about how to create real, lasting social change. Click here for a list of all titles, videos, and transcripts.

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