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The Evolution Of Capitalism: A Cannabis And Psychedelics Investor's Proposal

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The Evolution Of Capitalism: A Cannabis And Psychedelics Investor's Proposal

Last week was a rough one for me.

I woke up on Monday morning with a severe case of vertigo.

Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.

The room was spinning so fast, and it didn’t take long for me to start freaking out.

I had no idea what was going on.

I managed to get out of bed and walk to the kitchen where I attempted to sit down, but ended up losing my balance and falling over.  

I really thought that something terrible was about to happen.  I thought I was about to die.  And as most folks do in such situations, I quickly started evaluating my life.  Getting somewhat philosophical, if you will.

Has my life had purpose?

Have I offered any positive contributions to my community?

Have I offered any real value to society?

Have I offered value to my friends, co-workers, colleagues, and you, as well?

I have close to 50 years on me, and I’m now looking back on nearly five decades, questioning whether or not I’m content or satisfied with what I’ve learned, what I’ve offered, and what I’ve contributed to the world.

Yes, these are big philosophical questions, and questions that I probably haven’t pondered since my college days.  Back when books and teachers and peers challenged my limited world view, and schooled me and exposed me to new worlds and ideas that ultimately made me the person I am today.

For better or worse, I’m content with the person I am today.

But is that enough?

If someone were to ask you at age 16, whether you’d like your life to be considered one of contentment or one of great joy and extreme fulfillment, which would you choose?

Sitting here today at my laptop, typing out these words, I’m forcing myself to face this question.  

Am I truly happy and fulfilled?  And if not, then why?

Truth is, I have no reason to complain.

I have an amazing family, great friends, and a job I absolutely love.

You know, I watched my father work two jobs for most of his working life.  And I can tell you, the man never looked forward to going to work.  As far as I know, anyway.

I don’t think he ever liked his jobs, but he had a responsibility to take care of his family.  He needed a paycheck, and didn’t have the privilege of time or inherited wealth that would’ve allowed him the opportunity to pursue any kind of real passion.  Yet, without much in the way of complaining, he took his responsibility to his family very seriously.  And despite spending more than 40 years working jobs he didn’t enjoy, he sucked it up so that his kids could have a good life.  I believe that he sacrificed his happiness so that I could have certain advantages he never had:  a stable home, a safe neighborhood in which to grow up, and a world where I never had to worry about having a roof over my head or food on the table.

Both my parents worked their asses off so I could have a good life. And yet here I am, questioning the value of this amazing life I’ve been gifted.

Honestly, I feel pretty shitty even talking about it.  How unappreciative I must sound.  The fact that I even have the privilege of questioning the value of my existence is because of what my parents did for me.

Of course, it doesn’t take a near death experience (or perceived near death experience), to be forced to confront our lives, goals, and purpose in a different way.   Certainly not over the past few months, anyway.

Being on lock-down, worrying about pandemics, watching my country come to terms with a long history of intolerance and violence in a way that we haven’t seen since the 1960s.  Or in my case, for the very first time.  This is all very intense.

I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot lately, particularly with how I’ve been watching the United States become further divided.  And I watch politicians use the recent uprisings in our country as fodder for sound bytes and re-election campaigns.  They use these crises to their advantages by manipulating us to fight against each other, when in fact, the things we seem to be fighting about are shared concerns.  Things that should actually be bringing us together, not separating us.

Are our jobs safe?

Do we have enough savings set aside for a rainy day (or many rainy days)?

Are our constitutional and civil rights still valid?

Is our personal safety at risk?

Is our food safe to eat, our water clean to drink, and our air safe to breathe?

These are not left vs. right issues.

These are issues that affect all of us, no matter which side of the aisle we call home.  

But instead of uniting to address these issues, we are allowing these politicians and opportunistic media pundits to play us against each other. 

How has this happened?

How did we get here?

I’ve had a lot of time to think about this, and I really believe that much of this has to do with economics.

I know, it sounds weird, but bear with me, because my argument is sound.
 

Flaws and Fixes

I’ve long been an unapologetic supporter of capitalism.  It’s just always made sense to me.  This idea where individuals and businesses freely produce, buy and sell goods and services based on voluntarily agreed upon contracts.

I grow apples. You want an apple.  I will sell you an apple for a mutually agreed upon price whereby we both benefit.  You walk away with the apple, and I am compensated for the time, energy, and capital it took me to grow that apple, and have the ability to continue growing apples.

Yes, this is incredibly simplistic, but I am not an economist.  So don’t expect more from me on this.

But generally speaking, this works. It’s a good thing, as such transactions are done voluntarily without interference or threats of violence, and with the goal of both parties gaining something of value.  

Although, like all good things, sometimes flaws can be found in systems we’ve always believed to be inherently sound.  The argument can be made that this is the case when it comes to what we understand as free market capitalism.

I’m not saying these flaws render this system irrelevant.  Quite the contrary, actually.  Identifying those flaws, and addressing those flaws to make the system better is beneficial for all of us, and can strengthen the bedrock of this system that has allowed so many people to not only be lifted out from under the burdens of poverty, but actually prosper.

 

Capitalism 2.0

About 15 years ago, I read a book called Natural Capitalism, which suggests that natural and human capital are not adequately figured into the equation of what we would describe as industrial capitalism.

“Human and natural capital are not free amenities in inexhaustible supply, but instead, finite and integrally valuable factors of production.”

The authors argue that the traditional system of capitalism "does not fully conform to its own accounting principles. It liquidates its capital and calls it income. It neglects to assign any value to the largest stocks of capital it employs – the natural resources and living systems, as well as the social and cultural systems that are the basis of human capital."

While I didn’t find all of the arguments made in the book to be entirely valid, the basic fundamentals of Natural Capital are completely on point. The authors don’t suggest that capitalism is ineffective or inferior to other economic models, but the points that are made serve as a reminder that our understanding of how economic systems work don’t have to remain static.  They can develop and evolve.

Look at our understanding of science, for instance.

The greatest minds once believed the earth was flat, fevers could be cured with blood-letting, and the earth was the center of the universe.

But as we evolved as a species, and continued learning and developing new understandings of biology, physics, and chemistry, our applicable systems and models also evolved.

While I maintain that the basic building blocks of capitalism are reliable, it is also potentially absent additional building blocks that could actually make capitalism an even stronger force for prosperity and freedom.  Not just in the way we understand it today, but in a way that also takes into account the value of health, wellness, and equal opportunity.

In other words, imagine a system of free trade whereby there are fewer negative social, health, and ecological effects resulting from the production and consumption of goods and services.

It may be a bit hard to wrap your head around this at first, as our general understanding of what capitalism is, has been limited by what we’ve been taught up to this point.

As I noted, theories and systems are not always static.  They can change and evolve.  And such is the case with a relatively new model of capitalism that has been dubbed Doughnut Economics.

Despite the somewhat silly name, the concept is actually quite fascinating, and further strengthens my argument that investors can do well by doing good.

 

Doughnut Economics

Doughnut Economics, in my opinion, is a more defined framework of what the authors of Natural Capitalism brought us, arguing that more prosperity can be created for more people if we're willing to look beyond the constraints of contemporary capitalism.

Kate Raworth, the architect of this model, proposed this framework to regard the performance of an economy by the extent to which the needs of people are met without overshooting Earth's ecological ceiling.

The main goal of the new model is to re-frame economic problems and set new goals. In this model, an economy is considered prosperous when all twelve social foundations are met without overshooting any of the nine ecological ceilings. This situation is represented by the area between the two rings as the safe and just space for humanity.

Here’s the model that illustrates what she’s talking about …

At first glance, it may seem counterintuitive, as this is a bit of a departure from everything we’ve ever learned about free market capitalism, but Raworth’s argument deserves some consideration.  That is, that a healthy economy shouldn’t necessarily be designed to just grow, but instead thrive.

Understand, I’m not saying Doughnut Economics is the perfect model for freedom and prosperity.  I don’t know.  And surely there are plenty of economists that could counter the arguments made by those who say Doughnut Economics is superior to what we’ve been taught for decades about the benefits of capitalism. But on its surface, it sure as hell makes a lot of sense to me.

I'm particularly fascinated by this idea of distributive economics, not by way of increased taxation or a centrally-controlled distribution of income (two things I find to be at odds with wealth creation and prosperity for all), bur rather “fair access to the wealth that exists in land and resources, the controlling of money creation, and owning technology and knowledge.”  

Certainly digital currencies, blockchain technology, and open source software have already given us a small peak at what the benefits of this could be.

Either way, I'm definitely looking forward to learning more about all of this in the coming weeks and months.

After all, if my life is to have any purpose, it must include educating myself on ways in which I can be an ally in the move to create a more prosperous and just world for everyone. Not just those born into privilege.  This could be a way to further accomplish that.

 

Photo by Marcel Strauß on Unsplash

 

The preceding article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.
 

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