Thomas Piketty (New Review) and Will Hutton ("Capitalism simply isn't working and here are the reasons why", Comment) argue capitalism isn't working. It has long been known, as Winston Churchill put it in 1945: "The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings."

In the efficient creation of wealth, capitalism works; in the efficient distribution of wealth, capitalism has not worked – which is exactly what we would have expected. However, it is not just in consideration of inequality where we must look beyond capitalism; in exercising the restraint required to limit environmental degradation, capitalism cannot work.

The application of simple economic principles shows that public goods, such as the environment or social justice, cannot be provided by the market. Such consideration highlights the need for states and businesses to adopt a triple bottom line: economic sustainability, social sustainability and ecological sustainability. Capitalism will, no doubt, play a part in this – the oversight of neoliberal discourse is in the suggestion no other part need be played.

Kevin Albertson

Manchester Metropolitan University


Link to article

Posted by

Professor Kevin Albertson

Professor of Economics