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Published in: Society 1/2021

03-05-2021 | Featured article and Forum

Capitalism Needs to Be Re-encapsulated

Author: Amitai Etzioni

Published in: Society | Issue 1/2021

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Abstract

Capitalism, which has become the dominant economic system in the world, requires a strong political and social capsule, made out of regulations and normative restrictions. The capsule in the United States has weakened since 1980; major industries and corporations are engaged in highly unethical and often illegal behavior. It is not a case of a few “rotten apples” in an otherwise healthy barrel—but a barrel whose contents are decomposing as a whole. Public opinion polls and political preferences indicate that large segments of the public are disenchanted with the current form of the capitalist system, and there are some indications that the economic elites recognize a growing public demand for a stronger capsule. This article closes by raising a question about the long-run sustainability of this economic system.

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Footnotes
1
See also Sunstein, C. R. (2014). Why Nudge?: The Politics of Libertarian Paternalism. New Haven: Yale University Press. and Thaler, R.H. and Sunstein, C. R. (2009) Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness. London: Penguin Books.
 
2
The dearth of corporate punishments severe enough to serve as deterrents is not new. In 1993, I wrote that “[g]iven our present political reality, it is difficult to go after major corporations and penalize them on a level that would deter future crimes” (Etzioni, p. 151).
 
3
See, for example: Kassirer, J.P. (2005). On the Take: How Medicine’s Complicity with Big Business Can Endanger Your Health. New York: Oxford University Press. Abramson, J. (2004). Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine. New York: HarperCollins. Angell, M. (2004). The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It. New York: Random House. and Avorn, J. (2004). Powerful Medicines: The Benefits, Risks, and Costs of Prescription Drugs. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
 
4
This is not a new phenomenon. In 1975, the New York Times published “a series of exposés of serious and pervasive abuses in nursing homes” (Etzioni 1982, p. 27).
 
5
For more, see Ecenbarger, W. (2012). Kids for Cash: Two Judges, Thousands of Children, and a $2.8 Million Kickback Scheme. New York: The New Press.
 
6
See, for example: Piketty, T. (2017). Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Translated by Arthur Goldhammer. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press. Taibbi, M. (2014). The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap. New York: Spiegel & Grau. and Stiglitz, J. E. (2013). The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
 
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Metadata
Title
Capitalism Needs to Be Re-encapsulated
Author
Amitai Etzioni
Publication date
03-05-2021
Publisher
Springer US
Published in
Society / Issue 1/2021
Print ISSN: 0147-2011
Electronic ISSN: 1936-4725
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s12115-021-00565-z

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