Long-Term Capitalism

What We’re Reading: February 2019

February 22, 2019  • Creating the Conditions for Long-Term Capitalism

What We’re Reading is a roundup of breaking news and commentary on the challenges and opportunities of aligning business decisions with the long-term health of society.

Amazon Will Pay a Whopping $0 in Federal Taxes on $11.2 Billion Profits
(Laura Stampler, Fortune Magazine)
For the second year in a row, Amazon will not pay anything in federal taxes. Corporation-friendly tax cuts and loopholes “allow profitable companies to routinely avoid paying federal and state income taxes on almost half of their profits.”

American Segregation, Mapped at Day and Night
(Alvin Chang, Vox)
Look around your neighborhood. Who is not there?

Engineering the Intelligent Enterprise
(Joseph Byrum, ISE Magazine)
This piece, by a 2012 Aspen Institute First Mover Fellow, de-mystifies AI and human capabilities. Added bonus: a chart linking per-capita consumption of mozzarella cheese and the number of civil engineering doctorates awarded each year.

Extracting Human Value 
(Harold Jarche, Jarche.com)
Jarche questions the very idea of ‘human value’: “The issue is not re-skilling or a focus on new work competencies. The issue at hand is how our government policies and economic models treat people. Is each individual a unique, complex being with multiple facets, or just a self-driving unit that contains bits of work to be extracted?”

After the Deluge: Business and the Effects of Global Warming
(The Economist)
“Nature has always disrupted business. But global warming is making the task of dealing with it more urgent.” This in-depth article discusses climate’s increasing impact on corporate risks and rewards, and how companies can do more to future-proof assets.

Wealthy Black Executives Take on Racial Inequality
(Jordyn Holman, Bloomberg)
“African American households still have half the income of white families.” How is one group of black leaders working to address disparities in work, wealth and health?

Jeffrey Skilling, Former Enron Chief, Released After 12 Years in Prison
(Matt Stevens and Matthew Haag, The New York Times)
From spectacular rise to stunning fall, Enron holds an unenviable place in the annals of corporate fraud. Have the rules changed enough since Mr. Skilling’s conviction?

How a ‘Monster’ Texas Oil Field Made the U.S. a Star in the World Market
(Clifford Krauss, The New York Times)
The Permian Basin has gone from a declining region to a market-changer. Krauss takes readers on a fascinating tour through the positive and negative implications of this shift.

What Happens When Techno-Utopians Actually Run A Country
(Darren Loucaides, Wired)
A look at how business can serve as an incubator for methods of control and influence that will later upend a country’s politics.

Capitalism’s New Clothes
(Evgeny Morozov, The Baffler)
This review of Harvard Professor Shoshana Zuboff’s new book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, asks: Is something “truly rotten in the digital kingdom”? 

Google Will End Forced Arbitration for Employees
(Marrian Zhou and Richard Nieva, CNET)
“This victory never would have happened if workers hadn’t banded together, supported one another, and walked out,” organizers wrote. How are new forms of worker activism changing corporate policies?

For more on our work to align business with the long-term good of society, sign up for our monthly newsletter and visit our website. (Please note, the purpose of this newsletter is to highlight what Aspen BSP staff are reading, and is not intended as advertisement or endorsement of content or viewpoints.)