The Occupy Wall Street protests are mostly over, but they have brought attention to the fact that 1 percent of Americans own almost half the country’s financial assets and other investments. Thanks to our openly capitalist system, it seems America is less equitable than ever.
On the other hand, more Americans are getting involved in co-ops and worker-owned companies. 130 million Americans are involved in a co-op and more than 13 million are worker-owners. America may actually be moving toward a cross between traditional capitalism and socialism.
Local and state governments are also changing the character of American capitalism. Nearly half of the states control venture capital efforts, taking part ownership in new businesses. In addition, 14 states began to consider legislation to create public banks and another 15 more are considering some form of single-payer or public-option health care plan.
Throughout the populist and progressive eras, an increase of public anger led to major policy shifts. Many of the local and state ideas were brought to the national level. Additionally, it has been shown how the takeover of auto giants like General Motors (NYSE:GM) and Chrysler can suddenly become an actuality.
The American public may be changing its support for the capitalist model too. A Rasmussen poll in 2009 reported that Americans under 30 were “essentially evenly divided” as to which they favored “capitalism” or “socialism.”
Interesting times …