Is it time to embrace Community Capitalism?

Those grand times when some people made lots of money ceased forever when the Great Financial Crisis hit the world in 2008. It is a lie to promise people that it will happen again in its old freewheeling way.

Capitalism in the form that we once knew it actually died that year, and rigor mortis set in rapidly. It is beyond resurrection and will be replaced gradually by something more meaningful to the era in which we live.

Thankfully, neither Communism nor Socialism will make a comeback, as both have been tried, often in brutal fashion, over a long period of time, and have failed miserably.

The strongest possible basis for a renewal of prosperity is via a new type of economics that is best described as Community Capitalism.

US President Obama has touched on some elements of it in his current election campaign. He envisages a marketplace that is designed to operate on a level playing field, where hard working and honest people all have a fair chance to compete.

However, the majority of participants in the market will accept that they have a personal responsibility for the alleviation of poverty and the preservation of the environment as a fundamental core of good market economics.

They will also have an opportunity to inject much more private capital into health, education and infrastructure on a basis that offers them a fair return on their investment — replacing the role of governments in those fields.

Outstanding features of this community marketplace will be the active presence of not-for-profit corporations, as well as State Capitalism based on an improved version of the current Chinese model.

These institutions will have far greater capacity for growth than traditional corporate structures and, as a result, there will not be a very wealthy one per cent dominating the scene while most of humanity misses out. It will, however, develop a powerful middle class that is far more likely than the wealthy to generate the economic enhancement of those living in poverty.

Community Capitalism will evolve steadily. Barack Obama appears to have absorbed the message of change, and seems to be heading in this new direction.

Unlike Romney, he acknowledges that there is a new world out there dominated by rapidly changing technology, which gives little guys a lot of power in the social media as well as new found opportunities in an online marketplace. His challenge in leading America through a period of change will be to bring the Congress with him on the journey.

Sadly, most of them are so far to the right, and so lost in the past, that they refuse to accept the obvious fact that the world has undergone a transformation where no sensible person now believes that wealth trickles down from the wealthy to the masses. In truth, it has never done that.

It is, therefore, important for us to ask how an Obama-led America, as a world leader of Community Capitalism, will influence our life here in Australia?

Firstly, we should partner with him in achieving the successful establishment of Community Capitalism worldwide. In fact, we must establish a partnership of equality with the US in all facets of life, instead of continually relying on Americans to defend us if something goes wrong.

The main partnership must be to work with America — and China and India — in solving the financial mess in Europe where the lack of leadership and financial acumen is appalling. The Euro nations have the capacity to destroy us all if their irresponsibility is not corrected by someone with Obama’s power.

While we are sorting out the European tragedy, it will be essential that we partner America on all matters relating to energy. The future stability of the world could depend on it, as half of humanity does not have power to their homes, or even their workplaces, and controversy reigns as to how the world can achieve clean energy.

Australia can play a big role in this by encouraging Obama to make this a priority item of his Presidency by showing that we have the resources, expertise, and environmental responsibility to be a significant contributor to this enormous energy challenge and opportunity which will increase as the world’s population grows and ages.

The same recommendation applies to infrastructure. It has fallen into neglect worldwide, with Australia and the US being particularly guilty.

The greatest neglect is with railways. Aussies and Yanks have the doubtful pleasure of experiencing the gross inefficiency of the worst rail systems in the world and, while we must massively upgrade our railways and rolling stock here at home, we have a wonderful opportunity to get involved in railway joint ventures in America — if Obama will declare rail to be another major priority, recognising that automobiles have reached their zenith as the favoured means of transport and will slowly decline.

While we are talking to him, we should ask that he gets his budget into surplus in a hurry by cutting defence expenditure to the bone. No-one is going to invade them and their Department of Defence is riddled with corruption and rotten to the core.

The same slashing must be done to farmer’s subsidies. American farmers are disgracefully inefficient, and are actively encouraged to remain so by the unjustifiable hand-outs that they receive year after year, so they can export cheap produce to the world and kill the economies of emerging nations whose non-subsidised farmers are thereby rendered uncompetitive.

A significant part of Obama’s less-than-inspiring first term record appears to have been caused by his belief that governments must dominate the economy rather than guide it.

He must now operate on a basis that no government can accept financial responsibility for the failures of the marketplace. Banks that are irresponsibly managed must go to the wall — automobile companies likewise.

Despite a disappointing first term, which failed to live up to the expectation that he created, plus the current lacklustre re-election campaign, I reckon that Barack Obama will win a second term when Americans go to the polls on Melbourne Cup Day — Tuesday, November 6.

Americans rarely fail to give their Presidents a second term. We have to go back nearly 40 years to find one who missed out: Jimmy Carter, a decent man who did not understand politics ,but later became a statesman of renown, capably supervising elections in many emerging democracies.

Obama does understand politics, but he is still learning to govern, having painfully discovered that it is easier to promise than it is to deliver. One must hope that he will now use the tough experience of his first term to do immensely better in his second stay at the White House.

Why do I think he will win? More importantly, in what ways will it help the world if he does win?

A good place to start is by studying Obama’s opponent, Mitt Romney. He comes over as a show pony with no intellectual or ethical depth, and no strongly held convictions — his agenda constantly changing according to his reading of the polls.

Of particular concern to me is his background. He has led a privileged life as one of the wealthy one per cent, never ever having had to worry about paying the rent on Friday. You really don’t have a clue what life is about unless you have struggled with an empty bank account on a regular basis.

Even more crucial is the fact that Romney belongs to an era that is past — pedalling promises to voters that he will take them back to happy old days of endless prosperity — a commitment that he cannot honour.

Unfortunately, Community Capitalism has not been even remotely present on Romney’s agenda, and he will resist it if he wins the election. He will want to run the world in exactly the same manner as he operated Bain Capital.

The future of humanity may depend on the Tea Party being mercilessly thrashed at the November 6 polls and sent back to the dark places from whence they came.

Just as bad as the Tea Party, but in a different way, are some of Obama’s own team — Timothy Geithner and Ben Bernanke, as well as some of the other retreads from the Clinton era, must go. They are incompetent and should be replaced by people who understand that small business is the backbone of a free market, and they are not helped by the printing of money.

So, we come to the crunch point. The Republicans should be winning the US election by the length of the straight, but they are a political party that constantly looks backwards, and they have chosen a candidate who is a good project organiser, but will never ever understand that humanity needs hope, not economics that is based on a list of doubtful dreams put forward by Wall Street.

They are a party that has no future, and Tony Abbott should take note of the fact that there is now a desperate need for a revolution in conservative politics worldwide.

I hope that the role of the second Obama government will be to create a marketplace where there are considerable incentives for participants to serve humanity, but provides absolutely no incentives whatsoever for anyone to become wealthy.

Financial independence, combined with an enjoyable lifestyle, should be the accepted norm for a fair society. If Obama genuinely embraces Community Capitalism, he will go down as one of the great Presidents of American history.

It is always wise to learn a few new lessons from Abraham Lincoln, who is acknowledged as the greatest of all American Presidents. He gave freedom to the slaves instead of leading an economy that was based on slavery.