Recently Andrew Yang has announced his run for the 2020 Presidential election. He calls himself a "human capitalist"

Now, I like his ideas generally - but I do not understand what exactly "human capitalism" means. On his website, he stipulates "The unit of a Human Capitalism economy is each person, not each dollar" What "unit" is he talking about? Is he referring to labour here?

His core tenets also state the function of human capitalism is to improve "human welfare" which I presume is the mental health, economic stability, et cetera., of the people (one could broadly say "quality of life"), and for the market to be more interested in quality services rather than maximum profit.

Given this picture, is human capitalism even possible without undue government interference considering capitalism inherently functions by private owners of namely, trade and industry?

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    If something is "undue" seems like a really subjective question, but this page seems to cover what he means by Human Capitalism, or Human-Centered Capitalism: yang2020.com/policies/human-capitalism – Alexander O'Mara Feb 18 at 2:15
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    I guess it would mean that goods and services are priced in humans. Like, instead of "apples cost $2.32 per dozen", it would be "apples cost 1.67 nanohumans per dozen" or something like that. – PyRulez Feb 19 at 7:37
  • Somewhat tangential, but he's paralleling Alexander Dubček's "Socialism with a human face" – user4012 Feb 25 at 23:31

The term “human capitalism” does not have an agreed upon definition or general understanding. “Human capitalism” as Andrew Yang uses the term, is whatever Andrew Yang says it is.


Yang is not the first person to speak about "human capitalism". There are plenty of other sources, even a relatively recent book Human Capitalism. Maybe he has been inspired by their usage of this word, but in the end it's simply a statement that he wants to reconcile capitalism with human needs.

On his own Internet page as candidate, one can read:

Capitalism as an economic system has led to unparalleled innovation and improvement in the human condition. Many consider it to have “won” the war of ideas against socialism, but that simplistic view ignores that there is no such thing as a pure Capitalist system. And our current version of institutional capitalism and corporatism is a relatively recent development.

Our current emphasis on corporate profits isn’t working for the vast majority of Americans. This will only be made worse by the development of automation technology and AI.

We need to move to a new form of capitalism – Human Capitalism – that’s geared towards maximizing human well-being and fulfillment. The central tenets of Human Capitalism are:

Humans are more important than money The unit of a Human Capitalism economy is each person, not each dollar Markets exist to serve our common goals and values The focus of our economy should be to maximize human welfare. Sometimes this aligns with a purely capitalist approach, where different entities compete for the best ideas. But there are plenty of times when a capitalist system leads to suboptimal outcomes. Think of an airline refusing to honor your ticket because they can get more money from a customer who purchases last-minute, or a pharmaceutical company charging extortionate rates for a life-saving drug because the customers are desperate.

Thus, he is likely to pursue policies which will be decried as "Socialist" by a large part of the political spectrum in the USA, while he is distancing himself from real Socialists who don't believe in free markets. I think that this program looks rather "European". In fact, I think it falls perfectly in line with the tenets of the "soziale Marktwirtschaft" ("social market economy" aka. Rhine capitalism) in Germany.

  • Yang is not the first person to use the two words "human capitalism" together, but he is the first person to use them to refer to the thing that Andrew Yang is talking about. The book Human Capitalism that you cited is written by a different person whose solutions to the problems posed by modern capitalism are likely to be very different from Mr. Yang's. – Joe Feb 19 at 2:41

It is a strange idea. Capital is generally understood as money which in its usual definition acts for example, as a store of value and as a medium of exchange amongst other properties. It is essentially a referent to property for without that reverent it has no value.

To consider human beings as ‘capital’ per se is to treat them as property, as commodities, that is as slaves. Lenin for example noted on his reflections on the causes of the First World War that ‘imperialism’ was the highest form of Capitalism and slavery was one of the forms that Capital took on that era, as well all colonialism.

The term is sometimes used in business - aka human capital or Human Resources - but it has no legal definition and nor any political value.

  • I think the point of saying that people as capital is to have a psuedo-intellectual, moralizing way of saying "we should favor people over profits." You are correct though to point out how this sounds to people who are informed on these things. – Joe Feb 20 at 17:56

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