Pocket Books £8.99
Creative Capitalism, ed Michael Kinsley
Sunday 21 February 2010
"Creative capitalism", the brainchild of Bill Gates, is the idea that capitalism can and should be used to solve the world's problems. In fact, Gates argues, capitalists should be much better at doing so than governments: they can "[match] business expertise with needs in the developing world to find markets that are... untapped." This book is drawn from a web-based discussion of Gates's idea, with economists, journalists and business people weighing in; some supportive, some acidly sceptical.
The paradox of creative capitalism is that, if capitalists help the Third World because there's profit in it, then there's nothing philanthropic about the enterprise; but if they do it for philanthropic reasons, then they're not being good capitalists. The economist Abhijit Banerjee answers simply: capitalism is about choice, and if capitalists choose to do good works, why shouldn't they? If shareholders don't like it, they can take their money elsewhere – but they won't if the company is profitable.
I'm with Banerjee. Any sign of capitalism developing a conscience is to be encouraged.
To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthdaybooks
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