American Capitalism is broken, and we need to fix it. What made our economy great, our country great, was a compromise many decades ago – Democratic Capitalism. A key part of that compromise was an agreement that we would all play by the same set of financial rules. One set of rules.
And it worked. Because we all played by the same set of rules, everyone had a chance to participate in our economy, and everybody had a chance to benefit from our economy. Until the 1980s’ the wealth our economy created was shared by everyone, wealthy, middle class and even the poor. Every income level got to participate in the benefits of capitalism. It was a rising tide that lifted all boats.
Since the 1980s’ the exact opposite has been true. Virtually all of the financial gains generated by our economy over the last 30 years, more than 21 trillion dollars in wealth, has gone almost exclusively to the very top, to the very wealthy. In the last three decades, the middle class and the poor have received only a tiny, tiny sliver the wealth created by our economy during that time.
This was NOT the natural result of capitalism. It happened because the Keepers of Capitalism allowed a second set of rules to be slipped into different parts of our economy that only benefitted a small part of our population. A second set of rules that allowed Corporate CEO salaries to go from 20 times workers wages to 300 times workers wages. A second set of rules that allows private equity funds to buy, strip and bankrupt healthy companies. A second set of rules that allow Wall Street to generate tens of billions of dollars in profits from selling and insuring things it doesn’t even own. A second set of rules that allows the very wealthy to avoid almost any scrutiny from the IRS.
We can fix all of these. We can fix the distortion that allowed CEO salaries to skyrocket. We can end the advantages of private equity. We can keep Wall Street from selling things it doesn’t own. We can make the IRS treat every taxpayer exactly the same. We can do it. We can get back to one set of rules for everybody. We can get back to an economy where EVERYBODY shares in the gains.
And we should do it, because capitalism actually works better if there is one set of rules for everybody.
Fixing American capitalism won’t be easy, because the people that are making all of the money don’t want the system to change. But we can do it. If we all work together, we can get back to one set of financial rules for everybody. We can get back to an economy where every American benefits. We can get back to Democratic Capitalism.