In the latest installment of the Next American Economy, Senior Fellow Bo Cutter’s guest David Rothkopf seems to channel Occupy Wall Street’s frustration. Pointing out many of the grievances of the 99%, he asks the tough questions of our economic system: “Why do we have a society, what is it we’re trying to do? Do we want to have the biggest economy? Do we want to have the best place to live? Do we think equality matters?” The answers that our current structure would offer are disheartening. “We’ve lost sight of the purpose of organizing ourselves into a society,” he says. “It’s not about the abstract creation of wealth.” Watch an excerpt of his talk:
We tend to pride ourselves on our system, but the knee-jerk worship of capitalism can lose sight of our values. “I think it says something about American society that the biggest insult you can offer to somebody in political life is to accuse them of being a socialist, which is a system of belief organized around society as the central element,” Rothkopf points out, “and the biggest compliment you can offer somebody is to be a capitalist, which implies a system of belief organized around money.”
In a later one-on-one interview with Bo Cutter, he goes further. “I would define myself as a capitalist, but I don’t think the underlying principle that society ought to be the central focus of the way that we order ourselves is one that we ought to cast aside,” he says. And as he points out, “We’re an outlier among the five or six different forms of competing capitalism” in the world by lacking this focus on society. Watch the interview:
So if we’re not good at building infrastructure or taking care of the vulnerable, what is the output of the American capitalist system? “If you look at the results, if you look at what we’re producing, you would come to the conclusion that we’ve created what you might call the great American inequality machine,” he says. It is high time for a robust debate about what we really want our economy to produce without throwing ‘socialist’ around as a dirty word.
Watch his full lecture: