Long-Term Capitalism

What We’re Reading: October 2020

October 27, 2020  • Creating the Conditions for Long-Term Capitalism

What We’re Reading is a roundup of current news and commentary on the challenges and opportunities of aligning business decisions with the long-term health of society. As the U.S. and Europe face the third wave of COVID-19, we offer an expanded set of readings exploring the pandemic’s effects on the economy, workers, and inequality. 

The Economy

The Peril and the Promise (The Economist) How will COVID-19 change the global economy for years to come? A special report from The Economist reveals the dangers and opportunities ahead.

8 Million Americans Slipped into Poverty Amid Coronavirus Pandemic, New Study Says (Stefan Sykes, NBC News) The authors of a new study reveal: “Increases in monthly poverty rates have been particularly acute for Black and Hispanic people, as well as for children.” (For a view of those who have not fallen into poverty, see: New York Times’ Recession’s Silver Lining: American Households Are Doing Better Than Expected.)

Women Are Exiting the Labor Force En Masse—And That’s Bad For Everyone (Abby Vesoulis, Time) “Women’s decisions to exit the labor force this year will likely impact their own professional and financial goals for the rest of their lives.” Stunning data and analysis about women’s forced departure from the labor force and its many negative consequences for workers, families, and also businesses.

The Shock and the Slog (Alex Williams and Skanda Amarnath, Medium) “We also see in the September jobs report a labor market that is getting more unequal as it stalls.” In this blog post, two economists connect the many divergent trends of the ongoing economic crisis of 2020.


Google’s Defense against Antitrust Lawsuit? You (Brian Fung, CNN Business) This month saw one of the most significant Congressional antitrust hearings in decades. It could reshape America’s tech titans—and perhaps, antitrust theory itself.

How Uber and Lyft Are Buying Labor Laws (Alexander Sammon, The American Prospect) Last year, California passed legislation that would require gig economy workers to be classified as employees, with all the share of profits and benefits that would entail. Now, gig companies are spending vast sums on Proposition 22, a ballot measure designed to ensure that the 2019 law won’t apply to app-based rideshare and delivery workers.

Worker Voice 

I’m a Software Engineer at Uber and I’m Voting against Prop 22 (Kurt Nelson, TechCrunch) “Workers are subsidizing the product with their free labor. I’ve decided to speak out against my employer because I know what it’s like to work with no benefits.”

Collective Bargaining Belongs at the Center of Our Democracy (Erica Smiley, PRISM) A challenging read with a call for business to do more on equity and empowerment.

Purpose of the Corporation

Remote but Inclusive for Years, and Now Showing Other Companies How (Steve Lohr, The New York Times) What does it take to create “a safe space that allows everyone to be heard,” no matter who (or where) they are? A company called Ultranauts offers plenty of inspiration.

Wall Street Drills Costco Stock because It’s Paying Workers $2 More an Hour During COVID-19 (Brian Sozzi, Yahoo Finance) At a time when companies are embracing a movement toward “stakeholder capitalism” and frontline workers in retail are celebrated as heroes, why is Costco being punished for doing what many would say is the right thing?

Warby Parker Co-Founder Dave Gilboa: How Businesses Can Help Protect Democracy (Sophie Downes, Inc.) As this issue of What We’re Reading goes live, the U.S. Presidential Election is just days away. Read how one leading company is engaging with some of the deepest challenges in U.S. democracy.

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.)