Throughout history, mankind has struggled to establish a socioeconomic system that is fair to all. This despite centuries of human history evolving into the capitalist liberal democracies, that is accepted as an end to the evolution of governance.
Socialism, while being noble at addressing issues of fairness and equitable distribution of wealth, is marred by two key problems—the determination of fairness is done by a select few, and most importantly, it works against the basic human nature of achieving self-actualisation. We live in a world that has evolved into a global economy where the power of self-actualization is given to all, where the most competitive thrive and the value of a commodity is set by market forces.
The system is far from perfect. This is most evident when we saw the British people voicing their grievances by voting to leave the free trade system of the European Union. They had opted to sacrifice their market access to the bloc in return for self-actualisation within their borders. It is at this point in history we have, perhaps, reached an impasse between the laissez-faire economy and government policies that intervene when the equilibrium on economic access reaches an imbalance.
While the capitalist economy presents opportunities for all, equal opportunity often does not equate to equal access to the said opportunities. Social upbringing and exposure to ecosystems, as well as inherited personal burdens may render some people unable to thrive, despite continuously working hard.
The dilemma emerges in addressing such imbalances, where the main points of contention lurk between regulation and installing economic freedom with the issue further exacerbated by limited resources within government coffers to establish fair economic distribution through state-sponsored welfare and development programmes.
The key to solving the problem is inculcating social responsibility in our society. In a capitalistic world, where it is every man for himself, we tend to forget that the access to opportunities is never something we can credit solely to ourselves. Along the path to success, something or someone pushed us in the right direction, gave us a resource to stay ahead, or taught us something we never knew would help us attain an upper hand.
We must realise that it is in our best interest to sometimes step outside our comfort zone and uphold the principles of helping others to improve themselves as it is the right thing to do. Business owners and managers that bring out the best in their staff will also bring out the best in their productivity, and eventually their profits.
However, taking a profit-first approach and looking at investments from a monetary point of view will cost more in the long run. In advanced economies, the disenfranchisement of those with limited access to the capitalist economy has led to the emergence of new concepts, such as social enterprises and circular economies.
These ideas bridge the harshness of the unhealthy competitiveness of the laissez-faire economy with new business ownership models that promote corporate social responsibility as a product towards profit, rather than a by-product of profit. As explained in my previous articles, the automotive sector will evolve into the “mobility sector”, and with that comes a premium on human talent to emerge a leader among a vast pool of players in a multitude of sectors. Therefore, we must prioritise human developing. After all, we must be bold in changing our mindset and do the right thing for everyone’s sake, including our own.
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute