Opinion: This Long-Standing Tenet of American Capitalism Must Change — Now

The idea that companies should focus on profit alone is now woefully inadequate given the massive problems we face as a society.

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Illustration by Kelsey King

What if the market is built on inequality and coercion? “Unanimity” now reads as upholding the white supremacy and patriarchy that has underpinned our economy since its foundations in slavery, and systematically excludes and discriminates against women and people of color.

To be sure, companies need profits to survive, and our current stage of capitalism has delivered wealth and innovation to many. But at what cost? It has lifted millions of people around the world out of poverty just to put so many of them on the brink of falling back into it and irreparably damaged Earth in the process.

Some still argue, as Friedman did, that company managers are unprepared to solve social problems. We agree this is often the case — but it is a ludicrous and dangerous abdication of responsibilities to accept this status quo.

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Ensia is a solutions-focused nonprofit media outlet reporting on our changing planet.

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