As originally published on NYTimes.com
The current system has led to profound inequality. To fix it, we need businesses and executives to value purpose alongside profit.
Capitalism, I acknowledge, has been good to me.
Over the past 20 years, the company that I co-founded, Salesforce, has generated billions in profits and made me a very wealthy person. I have been fortunate to live a life beyond the wildest imaginations of my great-grandfather, who immigrated to San Francisco from Kiev in the late 1800s.
Yet, as a capitalist, I believe it’s time to say out loud what we all know to be true: Capitalism, as we know it, is dead.
Yes, free markets — and societies that cherish scientific research and innovation — have pioneered new industries, discovered cures that have saved millions from disease and unleashed prosperity that has lifted billions of people out of poverty. On a personal level, the success that I’ve achieved has allowed me to embrace philanthropy and invest in improving local public schools and reducing homelessness in the San Francisco Bay Area, advancing children’s health care and protecting our oceans.
But capitalism as it has been practiced in recent decades — with its obsession on maximizing profits for shareholders — has also led to horrifying inequality. Globally, the 26 richest people in the world now have as much wealth as the poorest 3.8 billion people, and the relentless spewing of carbon emissions is pushing the planet toward catastrophic climate change. In the United States, income inequality has reached its highest level in at least 50 years, with the top 0.1 percent — people like me — owning roughly 20 percentof the wealth while many Americans cannot afford to pay for a $400 emergency. It’s no wonder that support for capitalism has dropped, especially among young people.