Charles Darwins’ Natural selection theory maintains the ecological balance in the earth. Natural selection theory is an overarching biological algorithm and it operates across the spectrum of living organisms, from bacteria to blue whales. Gravity to physics is Natural selection to Biology. So it sort of takes care of the extreme vetting when it comes to what/who stays on the planet and what/who leaves this planet, because everything needs moderation at some level. This is in fact taken care of automatically without any manual intervention. (Sidebar: In ancient ages, clans like Spartans chose to kill their offsprings soon after the birth if a careful examination revealed that the offspring is deformed or wouldn’t make a fine Spartan otherwise. It is shown in the first few minutes of the movie 300, but it’s hotly debated on the internet. Try googling “did Spartans really kill babies“).
Chronicles of biology show how natural selection applies itself elegantly: Certain living forms like dinosaurs became extinct at some point. Similarly, chronicles of modern economics will show we are at an exponential age now. Companies which are not embracing exponentialism are disrupted and fast disappearing. While organisms becoming extinct and companies becoming disrupted are directly comparable, there is a big opening to look at another important and interesting aspect of capitalism – the quality of goods and services produced and released into the market by the incumbent companies. Nobody really is moderating the overall quality of goods. Even if the consumers are willing to moderate, the information revolution has left them with more misinformation than information. Capitalism and its poster child Industrial revolution have been using the entire world and the environment as a playground to experiment without worrying about its limits and negative impacts for more than a couple of centuries now.
The status quo of capitalism and what’s so wrong about it?
Capitalism and the free economy are based on laws of self-interest, laws of supply & demand and laws of competition as noted by Adam Smith a Nobel Prize-winning economist in his book Wealth of Nations.
So by design governments aren’t supposed to intervene. So who will moderate capitalism?
Production of goods has its own life cycle, It takes its own sweet time before goods are eventually knocked from the market based on consumer interests and profitability. But, not every product gets knocked out, remember its free market. It’s up to the producers to keep it in the market as long as they wish. Which is not the case in biology, the process is elegant and robust: when the time is up, the time is up.
Producing sub-standard or completely useless product lines, releasing it in the market, letting consumer use it and eventually chuck it, creating wastage out of it and recycling that wastage. Every step of it has a certain amount of carbon budget attached to it. We need to address this. Again practices like cap n trade exist both as an idea and as a practice for a long time now, but have we created a real deterrent? Cap n trade is a libertarian paternalism ideology and simply means do whatever you want but within your carbon budget but after the limit, you will have to pay to offend. While powering capitalism with clean energy as opposed to fossil energy is one path to address the environmental impact, it should not be the only path and it most definitely cannot give us the required pace and scale. (Here is a claim that clean energy won’t save us)
Extreme vetting for capitalism
Extreme vetting and background checks aren’t new. Countries have been long doing extreme vetting before welcoming refugees for pure safety reasons and to protect the homeland. Now, universal background checks are proposed to reduce gun violence in the US. These are few forms of extreme vetting but they involve the government, policymakers and certain policy changes. It is a very centralized approach towards extreme vetting, so it comes with all the disadvantages of centralization and concentrated power.
I am proposing a decentralized variant of an extreme vetting to keep the producer’s aisle of the capitalism responsible and accountable for every carbon molecule they emit into the world. We should put the power of extreme vetting in the hands of the consumers of the goods, a crowd-sourced vetting if you will. The economics of computing and physics of data diffusion are changing at warp speed, the world is hyper-connected. Now is the best time to equip consumers with tools to make better-informed data-driven decisions about what they are going to consume. Soon they have the right information to make informed decisions, producers will know their B.S will be called out rather quickly. A form of extreme vetting can be a powerful deterrent to sub-standard capitalism. This power to make informed decisions can create a notion of consumers being dictators of what can come into the market and what can not, a consumer-driven ‘natural selection’ if you will. To make this happen we need better and faster ways in which consumer experiences and sentiments about goods reaching across the globe.
After all Climate change is 100x worse than the most radical groups in the world today, we need a smart way to vet capitalists before they can become worst climate change offenders. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against capitalism, I just want it moderated. Its time we tilted the axis of capitalism !!
What are your thoughts?
Next up: Say we moderated capitalism and even if the quality of goods is great, choice and buying decisions are still hard, (imagine what you did to make a buying decision last time) which again can contribute to a lot of wastage and hence, worsens climate change. How do we handle that ? Stay tuned to know more !!