There was once a man who bred monkeys. They were eventually going to be pets so he needed them to be co-operative and kind. The breeder decided to base his work on free market principles. He allowed the biggest meanest animals to hoard most of the food and then tried to introduce restraints that would protect the vulnerable members of the community. To the man’s surprise, his method kept breeding meaner and meaner monkeys. Whatever restraints he tried to build into the system were thwarted by clever bullies who quickly learned how to get around the restraints with bribes and threats.

If anyone came from a different planet and heard our defense of capitalism, they would feel we have much in common with the foolish monkey breeder. The richest 1% of Americans now hoard 25% of the wealth of our nation. They maintain their status by making workers compete with sweatshop and prison labor overseas. So while profits have never been higher, worker wages are stagnant or shrinking. If workers organize, the work is taken overseas where there are no government protections against wage theft. Capitalism is not only enslaving workers, it is destroying the planet. The hoarders would rather deny science than curb their ambitions. So even the melting of the planet’s ice caps is seen as a business opportunity as capitalism lures us into the path of certain oblivion.

Sanity means realizing what we reap we will sow. Only a fool still believes in the invisible hand of the market. If we build an economic system that rewards co-operation, we can yet save our planet. Worker owned co-ops are the fastest growing economic model and represent a new hope of transforming capitalism from master to servant. But if we continue to surrender responsibility to an economic system that rewards the meanest and cleverest hoarders, we should not be surprised when we wake up one day to be their slaves. Even worse, if we are successful in that system, we wake up one day, look in the mirror, and find the biggest meanest monkey of all.