I’ve been spellbound in reading the poet Carolyn Forché’s memoir of traveling to El Salvador in the late 1970s before a civil war that would last 12 years. What You have Heard Is True does what the best memoirs do: ask what the F are you doing with your life?
One sentiment in particular knocked me. A mysterious figure, Leonel, has shown her photos of what is happening in El Salvador. He explains how the cycle will likely play out like Vietnam before American interference. He wants a poet like her, rather than a journalist, to witness the violence. Over coffee in a kitchen, he says, “You can’t make a difference in the world by going to parties.” (pg 53).
This echoed in my mind when I read the brilliant Darren Walker’s article today in the Times, “Are You Willing to Give Up Your Privilege?” I highly recommend reading the entire article, but one aspect that really struck me:
Reforming capitalism also requires policymakers to transform a financial system that favors short-term returns, gives companies incentives to take on huge amounts of debt, and protects the special tax treatment for carried interest, a gift for private equity.
We must further ask: How can we create new policies that advance long-term, sustainable investment? How do we encourage investment in people and their skills, not just in automation and robotics? What does it mean to write a tax code that reduces inequality?