A too-simple answer to a complicated problem
The problem: how can we get people what they want and need?
It turns out that the simple short-term answer is the market.
The marketplace makes it possible to buy a nail clipper made of hardened steel for just four dollars, but only when you’re ready. The marketplace offers some people a solid brass set of the cups and balls magic trick and other people a hand-blown glass vase.
The marketplace is hyper-alert and never tires of finding overlooked corners of desire.
But the marketplace is not wise.
It’s blind, short-term and fairly stupid. Because it has no overarching goal. The market is nothing but billions of selfish people, trading this for that, without regard for what’s next.
Left alone, capitalism will devolve into corruption, bribery and predatory pricing leading to monopoly. Left alone, capitalism will pollute rivers, damage our health and create ever greater divides.
Capitalism gets us an opioid epidemic, the dark patterns of social media and doom scrolling.
Because the market isn’t wise. It has no sense of time or proportion.
The only way for the simple answer to solve our complicated problems is for it to have guardrails, boundaries that enable it to function for the long haul.
That’s something we need leadership to get done. And it’s more likely to get done if we acknowledge that we need to do it.