-Carlo Brovero, Founder & CEO, StorEn
Are we living in a capitalist society?
I often hear people questioning whether we live in a capitalist society or whether capitalism is the best economic model to deliver growth and well-being. Such questions have always triggered my curiosity. Given my commitment as CEO of an energy storage start-up, intending to pursue the typical path of all innovative technology ventures from an idea to an IPO, others may assume that I am a great believer in a capitalist society. In fact, I strongly believe that a capitalist model of society, one that supports a free market, can lead to growth and increased well-being.
Are we living in a “real” capitalist society? What are the aims of a true capitalist system? The starting point is ensuring the subsistence of a free market where market competition ought to be safeguarded, with equal business opportunities that facilitates new market entrants — a society in which individuals can also benefit from the provision of equal opportunities that are consolidated and defended. This way, everyone can contribute to growing his or her own well-being, as well as the society in which they live. A capitalist system must support and promote the distribution, rather than the concentration, of wealth. Achieving the above objectives is not easy, and only appropriate legislation can deliver this, avoiding overregulation common with left-wing governments as well as the pro-corporation approach typical of right-wing governments.
Unfortunately, I feel we live in an age of distorted capitalism. I believe big corporations and private interests are able to leverage the power of governmental regulation to protect their own economic position. Money is made primarily by “rent-seeking” using their advantages of being part of an oligopoly. We have witnessed a concentration of wealth and the impoverishment of the middle class.
The focus of big corporations must change to promote future growth in a stagnant economy. They must return to the pursuit of social objectives rather than market value, such as the well-being of their employees and shareholders. This is possible via a different distribution of the company’s economic benefits.
Further growth and economic development can also come through the provision of universal opportunities to those who have been left behind and are willing to work harder to contribute to society. Access to affordable, high-quality education is essential to implementing the skill shifting that is needed by the high-tech industries. Education will fuel personal ambition, and with it comes one’s contribution to further economic development.
Finally, the interaction between health and economic growth is a proven fact. Health status and economic performance are interlinked. A healthier population becomes a positive production factor contributing to economic progress, as much as capital and technology. We need to achieve the view that universal access to healthcare is not a cost to society, but rather an investment towards a wealthier, successful society.