Is “human capitalism” the solution to shrinking wages?

An article recently written in Forbes by a Mr. Ralph Benko proposes “human capitalism” as the solution to the shrinking wages and economic stagnation in the U.S.

Human capitalism, briefly described, is to treat investments in workers with the same seriousness and enthusiasm that investments in factories and machinery receive.

Simply put, the author argues that investments in the training and education of U.S. workers is essential.

He then goes on to praise Bernie Sanders’ sincerity in fighting for the working class while at the same time deploring the senator’s socialist solutions.

Socialism he argues, echoing the ignorant self-satisfaction of most neoliberal capitalists, simply doesn’t work.

He goes on to then cite Venezuela as an example of failed socialism, conveniently forgetting to mention the role the U.S. and it’s mega-corporations have played in it’s current problems.

Criticizing Venezuela without mentioning the role the U.S. has played is akin to kicking a man and then blaming him when he falls.

I find it interesting that Mr. Benko’s solution, investing in the workers, is remarkably similar to socialism.

Indeed, the entirety of the article is filled with socialist principles and solutions.

From the contrast between variable (human) capital and fixed capital (concepts popularized by Karl Marx) to the idea that investing in the education of the people is essential to the success of a nation, everything proposed is what you would expect under socialism.

Of course, what Mr. Benko forgets is that the reason why so many working people face chronic unemployment is not a lack of job skills and education.

Is is due to the mass exodus of jobs overseas combined with the automation of huge swaths of the American economy.

The idea that corporations are desperately wringing their hands and praying for skilled employees flies in the face of reason.

These corporations are not hiring because they do not need more employees.

Indeed, the reduced reliance on U.S. workers is one of the major reasons for the increasing profitability of the wealthiest one percent.

The mass underemployment of recent college graduates flatly contradicts the argument that people need to be better educated to find work.  

LIke all good capitalists, Mr. Benko believes we can have our cake and eat it too.

We can have record profits for the one percent while at the same time producing good jobs for everyone else.  

The problem is that record profits do not appear out of thin air but come from the wages, benefits, and labor that are no longer being paid for.

Capitalism is based on competition. For there to be competition there must be winners and losers. If both sides are winners then there was never a competition to begin with. While competition is necessary for capitalism to work, we have to ask if it is necessary for humanity to work.

The painful truth is we do not need winners and losers.

These winners do not offer anything to our economy that isn’t already being created by the millions of working men and women in retail, in factories, in schools, and everywhere else.

Finally, Mr. Benko argues that Sanders is advocating for a reappropriation of funds from the one percent to the rest of the country.

He, correctly, argues that this would only amount to about $208 more per citizen.

Of course, he intentionally misrepresents Sanders who never argued that wealth should be divided up equally among millions.

Rather, Sanders argues that, by way of taxes, these funds be used to benefit public projects such as education, medical care, job placement, etc.

Mr. Benko’s oversimplification is dishonest given that a man in his position is surely aware that Sanders’ never advocated for a simple reappropriation and equal division of funds between all citizens.

After reading this article I am left wondering if this is the best the right has to offer us.

A rebranded and watered-down version of pseudo-socialism called human capitalism?

Why not commit to the logical conclusion of your economic theory and embrace socialism wholeheartedly?

Why not only invest in workers education but also in their homes, health, and communities?

While I applaud anyone who believes in the importance of investing in workers, I question his sincerity and his understanding of socialist economics.

Human capitalism, like so many conservative economic policies, is a contradiction in terms.

There is nothing human about an economic process that pits human beings against one another and forces the weaker one to give the stronger one what he has.

There is nothing human about allowing one percent of the population to control forty percent of the wealth.

And, there is nothing human in pretending that the brutal outcome of this process is, somehow, the fault of the working class who should have been more educated and better trained.

Photo: For capitalists there is profit in shipping jobs overseas. For workers there is joblessness and suffering.   |  AP