Omidyar Network calls for reimagining capitalism to benefit the many

Omidyar Network calls for reimagining capitalism to benefit the many

Omidyar Network has released a blueprint for reimagining capitalism "for the benefit of the many and not just the privileged few." 

Part of ON's Reimagining Capitalism initiative, the report, Our Call to Reimagine Capitalism in America (13 pages, PDF), argues that markets are neither inherently "free" nor "self-regulating" but instead are shaped by a society's norms, values, laws, politics, and power dynamics. As an alternative to the current version of neoliberal capitalism, which is "failing most Americans," the report outlines a new economic paradigm in which working people, consumers, individuals, small businesses, and families have equal voice, power, and opportunities to improve their situation and succeed.

"[A] new economic paradigm must place individual, community, and societal well-being at the center, enabling everyone to meaningfully participate in our economy, democracy, and society," the report's authors write. "[W]e must equally ensure that people who have been historically and systematically marginalized by structural racism, colonialism, paternalism, and indifference will have opportunity, power, and the self-determination that comes from economic prosperity and a vibrant, fair, and responsive democracy."

To achieve that vision, the report argues that "any new economic settlement" must take into account new ideas, shared values, and inalienable rights; be inclusive and explicitly anti-racist; have counterweights to concentrated economic power; rebalance the relationship between markets, government, and communities; and be resilient. While not meant to be specific policy proposals, the five core elements of the plan underscore the need to shift the way  economic productivity is measured from GDP and growth to a broader set of measures more reflective of human well-being; eradicate systemic barriers that perpetuate economic disparities for historically exploited groups; strengthen real competition, checks on monopolies, consumer protections, labor unions, and civil society; bolster democracy and government's role in structuring markets in ways that prioritize the public good; and prepare for rapid and continuous change.

In May, ON announced a three-year, $35 million commitment in support of efforts to create new economic narratives, expand worker power, strengthen financial reforms, reshape corporate governance, and build grassroots infrastructure in a "post-pandemic era." In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ensuing economic recession, and the movement for racial justice sparked by the killing of George Floyd, the organization has accelerated its grantmaking and plans to award a hundred grants totaling more than $20 million by the end of the year.

"Capitalism, in its current form, has caused record income inequality, staggering racial wealth and wage gaps, sluggish productivity, and declining economic dynamism and innovation," said Omidyar Network CEO Mike Kubzansky. "These individual and societal ills are a direct result of the markets we created and the choices we've made. We can choose to build something better. We can reimagine capitalism so that markets are less likely to produce unequal outcomes. We can ensure that people who have been historically and systematically marginalized will have opportunity, power, and the self-determination that comes from economic prosperity and an equitable and responsive democracy."

(Photo credit: Omidyar Network)