Jul 19, 2018

Are We Facing the Decline of American Capitalism?

Every American has heard that our country was founded on capitalism. It’s a system so enmeshed in our history and legendary success stories that many of us simply take it as a given. Roll up your sleeves and build a business in your image. Work hard, because the sky’s the limit. And competition is always healthy.

But while many aspects of capitalism are cherished by Americans, especially older generations, the economic system is losing ground with younger Americans. According to Bloomberg.com, less than 40% of Americans aged 18-29 say they support capitalism.

As Fast Company succinctly puts it, “young people are really over capitalism.”

It’s been speculated that this loss of love may come from Millennials being less connected to the harsh realities of the Cold War. Or that they’re more idealistic and less experienced in life.

Others insist the younger generation is simply tired of growing inequality. And while it’s often small businesses that most feel the unequal brunt of capitalism, small business owners still “make up one of capitalism’s core constituencies.” If inequality continues to worsen, however, the lack of business opportunity could lead to a broader swath of the country embracing socialism.

“That America itself may become a socialist country must be abhorrent and foreign to the many who have fought, and to those who still fight, for free markets, traditional values, and capitalist ideals,” writes Dave Nammo in the National Review. “Conservative and traditionally minded Americans can no longer assume that their neighbor believes what they believe or that he defines the terms of political discourse the same way. The country has changed.”

The thing to remember is that it’s possible to strike a balance. Many modern companies have attracted the young demographic that’s apparently “over capitalism” by employing an approach known as conscious capitalism. Rather than focusing solely on profits, these companies share a social and environmental responsibility that in its best forms can actually make a positive difference in the world. In this way, they keep their eye on a triple bottom line comprised of people, planet, and profits.

While this may sound to some entrepreneurs like a burdensome approach that would stretch resources and hurt profits, businesses that embrace conscious capitalism often see stronger customer engagement and larger financial reward.

If you’re not currently using this strategy but think it could be a good fit for your business, don’t worry about biting off more than you can chew. Start by identifying the positive things you’re already doing, then come up with effective ways to share them with your customers.

As your efforts grow, you can then look for new ways to make an impact in your community and the world at large. Massive corporate initiatives aren’t required. Just thoughtful actions that will resonate with socially-minded customers who want to feel that their money is doing more than just buying a product.

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About the author

Grant Olsen
Grant Olsen is a writer specializing in small business loans, leadership skills, and growth strategies. He is a contributing writer for KSL 5 TV, where his articles have generated more than 6 million page views, and has been featured on FitSmallBusiness.com and ModernHealthcare.com. Grant is also the author of the book "Rhino Trouble." He has a B.A. in English from Brigham Young University.

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