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Capitalism – Not a Zero Sum Game


In USA, a owner of a company that operated truck fleets went for a medical check up and the doctor suggested him to get checked for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a medical condition where your airway passages get blocked when you are in deep sleep. This happens when your jaw gets relaxed and slides down. So you snore loudly or wake up several times in the middle of the night. When you wake up, your jaw becomes tense again and you start breathing.

As a result, people with sleep apnea get very poor sleep. They may lie in bed for 8 hours, but the deep sleep, the real sleep, they get is very less, because they are frequently waking up. So they feel sleepy and irritated. These are the people who fall asleep on couch while watching TV. If this happens for a prolonged period of time, the lack of good restful sleep can cause several other health issues.

So, when this owner saw the benefits of curing sleep apnea, he realized that this could be a huge benefit for his trucking business. If any of the truck drivers were to have sleep apnea, he would always feel sleepy and was more likely to cause accident. The owner made it mandatory to get all his drivers checked for sleep apnea. Many of them were diagnosed with mild or acute apnea and when it was cure, all of them saw big improvement in their daily lives. Not to mention the number of accidents by the truck company was reduced by more than 50%, thus helping them cut down costs and increase reliability and safety.

This was a win-win situation where the truck drivers benefited in their personal lives as well as the company benefited by cutting down costs. The real challenge of a entrepreneur is to find a win-win area, to find an area of rational common interests.

Often times the discussion of capitalism in socialist societies involves examples of exploiters, companies causing pollution, bribing politicians, cutting of jobs to save money. Or to the other extreme, the typical urban population in capitalist countries associates capitalism with consumerism, skyscrapers, cars and supermarkets. Both are not the real pictures.

Not just capitalism, but for any institution, the easiest way to bring a change is to find a win-win situation.

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