Scott Galloway is professor of marketing at NYU’s Stern School of Business. He is a prolific writer, commentator and provocative analyst of America’s economic successes and failures.
The following is an excerpt from a much longer December essay on current trends titled Prof G Person of the Year:
The real Person of the Year in 2023? A: Money.
I’ve experienced this firsthand, watching as faculty who can’t teach or pen relevant research create a weapon of mass distraction from their mediocrity: DEI. But that’s not what this post is about.
America is becoming more like itself every day: Money is the arbiter of … everything.
There’s a view that the rise of money is a good thing. Or at least not all bad. Human society has never been fair, and as long as people are status-seeking, competitive animals in a world of scarce resources, it won’t ever be. Historically, many of the lines that divided society traced innate characteristics like race or sex, were based on inheritance, or were determined by the exertion of physical strength.
Money doesn’t care about any of these things, and it has washed away barriers in ways that potentially make institutions more accessible. There are now nine Black American billionaires. Good news — and their rise is correlated to an increase in civil rights.
What stops this from being a Hallmark channel version of capitalism is that money, when not reinvested/redistributed (pick your word) quickly pools and concentrates, and innovation and competition decline. “Competition is for losers,” is how Peter Thiel puts it. And he’s following through, buying Senate seats (his protégé, J.D. Vance, is leading the charge to defund Ukraine) to secure the influence of his money.
We aren’t going to end the power of money any time soon. In an economy increasingly run on financialization, with so much wealth in circulation, our objective should be to ensure that it keeps circulating. Money = power, and power should be distributed as widely as possible. . .
Galloway’s critique is one of the reasons for cooperatives such as credit unions in a capitalist economy. That is until the alternative begins to act like capitalists.
I believe the greatest challenge for credit unions is not external–competition, economic uncertainty or technology disruption–but rather internal. That is, the loss of confidence in who we are and how we try to counter the inevitable goals of more and more money and power, not for members, but for our personal and institutional ambition.
The greatest challenge is how do credit unions re-engage with members, not as mere customers, but as real owners in the “distribution of power” as Galloway describes it.