I took a couple of days to attend Conscious Capitalism 2013 in San Francisco, CA. I was very excited to go. I'm not excited any more.
Why I Attended
I believe that in the course of trying to be responsible for my actions in life, the fact that some of those actions are wrapped up in an entity called a corporation doesn't make them any less mine. So as an employee, a director/officer, and a shareholder, I want to do my best to live ethically, for some definition of that word. In addition to that specific purpose, I am just generally interested in the extent to which business as a whole impacts lives. I believe it can be a force for good, but also that it can amplify harm. So as a person in this big collective we call society, I want to make sure I'm also being a decent chap. Finally, as the CEO of Verilab, I wield a bit more power than the average person in terms of directing its force, good or bad, so I want to make sure I'm discharging my responsibilities well in that respect too. The Conscious Capitalism conference seemed to present an opportunity to mix with people wondering about the same things, and in particular to learn about possible answers to what I consider are some very tough challenges.
What I Expected
Tension at the heart of capitalism itself
- There is a person who owns a particular piece of property known as "the means of production". This person is the Capitalist
- There is a (usually) different person who will operate that means of production to produce a certain amount of wealth. This person is the Worker
- The Capitalist pays the Worker an amount -- a "wage" -- for their efforts, that wage almost always being less than the wealth the Worker produced
- The remainder of the wealth, after the Worker is paid their wage, is called profit and it is kept by the Capitalist
- CRUCIALLY: The Capitalist gets to keep that profit even if, as is extremely common, they are "absent" -- i.e. even if they did not participate, with the Worker, in operating the means of production to produce the wealth
Ideas as that "means of production" -- Intellectual "Property"
What if the means of production is stolen property
Are we locusts?
What I Got