Traditional economics places capital first and people second. This site places people first; capital second.
By people I mean the economic roles people play. The word “people” means both workers and consumers. It also refers to entrepreneurs and others outside of the regular labor market. Of course, people are much bigger than these social roles.
By capital I mean capital goods such as machines, buildings, equipment, and raw materials used to produce new goods and services. The word “capital” also refers to the money that pays for these economic assets. For this reason capital is also known as debt.
“People first” means people buy assets and create debt as long as these assets produce useful things for the people. When capital is used in service to people it means everyone has opportunities to make the most of their lives.
“Capital first” means money is used to buy people (i.e., labor). Capital uses up labor just like it uses up inanimate objects called capital. After people are worn out by capital, they are discarded. When people are used in service of capital the result is poverty and wage slavery:
The golf links lie so near the mill
That almost every day
The laboring children can look out
And see the men at play
(Sarah Cleghorn, “Through the Needle’s Eye, 1916)
Copyright © 2010 Nancy K. Humphreys