BigBadBiz and the Cult of Capitalism

I am a happy capitalist. Businesses accomplish many great things and our society could not exist without their constant contributions.

But if you’re looking for examples of this, look somewhere else. That information is so abundant it has helped to form a mystique around the supposed healing powers of money – a Cult of Capitalism that believes the profit motive can solve any problem.

This belief touches all of us every day. It affects where we shop and what we buy, and influences what information we tune in and tune out. Based on the assumption of profit’s power, we select our associates and friends, what work we do, and even who we marry and how we raise our children. The Cult of Capitalism is as tangible in daily life as the weather, and unless you’ve planned an outdoor wedding, it’s more important.

It also affects how we vote and what we expect from our government – from the town council right on up to the feds. The notion that government should run more like a business has been stated so many times that it is now accepted without skepticism or question.

It assumes that the biggest issues in government are process problems resulting from some combination of ignorance, ineptitude, corruption and greed. It implies that society’s biggest problems can be solved by reframing them as business questions for skilled money-makers.

But that belief is wrong, and businesses prove it every day by doing things in the pursuit of greater profit that even go against their own self interest. The hothouse of capitalism may foster healthy competition and drive innovation, but it also allows ignorance, ineptitude, corruption and greed to flourish.

While businesses do many great things, many great businesses do terrible things.

Capitalism can be both wonderful and horrible – often at the same time. It should be respected, known and understood. But not worshipped or revered. And certainly not summoned to do work for which it is ill suited. There is a mystique about the all-curative power of profit, and exists to set the record straight.


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