Creative Capitalism

December 9, 2011

Political Theory


In one of my classes, I was required to watch an interview between Bill Gates and the editor of Time Magazine, Rick Stengel. During the interview, Gates provides possible solutions on how to fix capitalism in our society. In some ways agreeing with the ideas of Karl Marx, Gates admits that capitalism is creating an increasingly large gap between the rich and poor in our society. However, instead of relying on government aid or socialist reform, Gates believes that the idea of creative capitalism is a valid solution to our problems. Below is the link to the interview.

Creative capitalism is the process of utilizing the innovation power and abundant resources of large corporations to provide aid for the poorest people in our society. Gates believes that, “Companies should devote 5 percent of their innovative people resources to solving the problems of the world’s poor—who are their future customers. Drug companies, cell-phone suppliers, banks, and food companies all could do something by tapping their “innovation power” (http://harvardmagazine.com/). In the interview, Gates also sheds light on the fact that poor people have very little voice in the product market compared to the rich. This causes corporations to produce products that benefit those who need it the least, and leaves those who are in need helpless. He gives an example by saying that corporations are more likely to produce products that prevent baldness than they are to produce products that prevent malaria simply for the sake of making better profits. In my opinion, this is wrong, and one of the main problems with capitalism.

As we have learned, Karl Marx believes that capitalism will eventually fail because it is a system that is led by the upper class acting out of self-interest. In many ways, capitalism is failing today. An illustration of this in the United States can be seen in the recent occupy Wall Street protests. One of the main complaints of the 99% representative group is that big corporations are holding all of the wealth in America. Much like Marx hypothesized that it would, capitalism is causing rising tension between the classes in our society.

So the question is, is the idea of creative capitalism a valid solution to help reduce the current economic gap and class tension in our country? Do you think that corporations have a responsibility to act towards alleviating the suffering of the poor?

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2 Comments on “Creative Capitalism”

  1. jordanwylie Says:

    I don’t know if I believe that corporations have the responsibility to help alleviate poverty. Corporations are created in order to make a profit. I think the only organization that is required to help the poor would be the government because they are working for the people, including those who are poor. Even though I don’t think corporations are required to help, it would be nice for them to help. If we took Gates advice and companies put forward 5 percent of their innovative people to help end poverty, they could really make a difference. 5 percent is hardly anything in the big scheme of an entire company like Microsoft or Google. Also if they started working more for the community it would create a good rapport with people and their customers would probably be more supportive. In the end it might even boost business. I think creative capitalism could be the answer to solve the economic gap. People who work at these big corporations are extremely intelligent and they could probably come up with some brilliant ideas to help a lot of people at one time. It could create some real solutions, but companies shouldn’t be required to do it, they should just want to help out.

  2. blevz Says:

    Creative capitalism seems only to prolong the capitalist system, not entrench it to the point of eternal survival. According to Marx, Capitalism will perish due to overproduction, which is essentially the mission statement of creative capitalism. If every company gave 5% of its products to third world developing nations at sharp discounts it would certainly increase the innovative power in these countries but that only leads to more consumption, both as a result of the new consumer goods developed in these regions and the increased spending on current consumer goods that comes as a result of prosperity in developing countries. To supply this increased consumption, companies produce even more, utilizing the dwindling resources such as petroleum, clean water and tillable earth. As resource shortages begin, workers must work even more efficiently in order to make the same amount of goods, shifting wages lower but increasing the price of goods forcing the workers into even greater poverty relative to those at the top. Creative capitalism may allow some poor people a small chance at become the bourgeois it does nothing to address the underlying class distinctions which, according to Marx, will fracture and cause capitalism to destroy itself.

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