So what's a more healthy, humane capitalistic system look like? How do we fix our current economic woes? Thom Hartmann explores this in his new book by the above name. You can read some sneak preview-excerpts at this link. Here is one excerpt from the Intro:

Chapter 1, “Bring My Job Home!” covers how economies work and why we need to heed Alexander Hamilton’s advice. It points out that simply moving money around or creating a service economy (“Do you want fries with that?”) doesn’t produce long-lasting wealth in a country; only manufacturing does. Political economist Adam Smith pointed out that it’s the application of human labor to raw materials—his example was turning a tree branch into an axe handle—that fuels a growing economy. We’ve gone from more than 20 percent of our economy being based on manufacturing before Reagan to around 11 percent now. This has left us in the precarious position of being unable to make a missile or an aircraft carrier that we may need if we have to defend Taiwan from China without parts from the communist dictatorship of China. These “free trade/flat earth” policies are stupid on national security grounds as much as anything else, but their major impact has been to dismantle the American middle class and consequently put our democracy itself at risk.
Chapter 2, “Roll Back the Reagan Tax Cuts,” points out how when top income-tax rates on millionaires and billionaires are above 50 percent, not only does the gap between the very rich and the working poor shrink but the nation’s economy stabilizes and grows. One of the most interesting features of this chapter is a little-known study done by the chairman of the libertarian Cato Institute, which found that Ronald Reagan’s and George W. Bush’s tax cuts actually stimulated the growth of the size of government, whereas the higher taxes that had preceded Reagan and the increased taxes under Clinton (passed into law without a single Republican vote) actually shrunk the size of government.
Chapter 3, “Stop Them from Eating My Town,” covers the ground of monopoly- and crony-capitalism, an economic system born and bred when Reagan stopped enforcing the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. From too-big-to-fail to too-big-to-allow-competition, oligarchic corporations have come to dominate virtually every major sector of the American economy; the result has been the devastation of local economies and the prevention of new entrepreneurial small ventures. In the 200 years before Reagan, the downtowns and the business districts of every city in this nation were unique—and locally owned and operated. There was a certain inefficiency associated with it, but that inefficiency guaranteed healthy local businesses and communities. Only when we roll back Reagan’s hands-off policies on Big Business and re-embrace “trust-busting” practices of Republican Theodore Roosevelt will we see a revitalization of Main Streets across America.
Chapter 4, “An Informed and Educated Electorate,” begins by showing how badly our news media has deteriorated, how it only caters to what people want and not to what they need, and how important it is that we take our media back from the profit-hungry corporations that have abandoned the public-service mission of media. This chapter also tells the story of Thomas Jefferson’s dream—made explicit when he founded the University of Virginia as this nation’s first free college—that every American, regardless of birth or station, should be able to get an education from primary school through postgraduate university programs—at no cost. Spending on the education of young people pays back handsomely when they go on to make the society richer and, because of their higher incomes, provide higher income-tax revenues. When Reagan took a budgetary axe to the University of California and ended its free admissions policy, he handed to the countries of Europe and Asia the opportunity to overtake us in everything from patent applications to doctor-to-patient ratios to excellence in engineering and invention. And they’ve taken that opportunity. We need to take it back.
Chapter 5, “Medicare ‘Part E’—for Everybody,” points out how a nation that liberates its citizens from worrying about getting proper medical care is a nation of entrepreneurs, innovators, and stress-free families. It’s also a nation that can successfully compete internationally for manufacturing work, when companies are free of health insurance burdens. Instead of handing off trillions of dollars to for-profit health insurance companies—which are forbidden by law in every other industrialized nation on earth from providing basic health insurance—we have attached giant corporate leeches to our own backs. The salt we need to pour on them is a national single-payer health insurance system—simply by expanding Medicare to include all Americans and plugging the loopholes in it that have been drilled by corporate lobbyists and their wholly-owned prostitutes…er…politicians.
Chapter 6, “Make Members of Congress Wear NASCAR Patches,” tackles the problem of our private money–fueled electoral system and all the havoc it has wreaked. We need to fix—seal, really—the revolving door between government and industry; repair our monetary, investment, and banking systems; and change how we finance campaigns in this country. The idea of public financing of campaigns has recently been made very problematic by five Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court, who ruled in 2010 that corporations are “persons” with full “free speech” rights under the First Amendment. This chapter offers some workarounds, and chapter 10 takes on the problem of the Court’s decision directly.
Chapter 7, “Cool Our Fever,” shows the incredible problems that arise from our own addiction to oil, especially in transportation, and it calls out the corporations and the billionaires who are making fortunes by pumping carbon into our atmosphere, putting all life on earth at risk—including us. The solutions include a carbon tax, but we must act soon.
Chapter 8, “They Will Steal It!” is based on one of the greatest foreign policy insights I’ve ever gotten, shared with me by activist and comedian Dick Gregory at around 3:00 A.M. as we were well into our third glass of wine and about five miles above the Atlantic Ocean on our way to Uganda. It is about how we cannot force other countries through military might to adopt our values of democracy and an open society—and how they will steal our ideas and our values if we engage them constructively so they can see how they can benefit from those ideals. It’s high time that America became less dependent on the military by cutting back our defenses, by bringing back the draft, and by returning to a functional democratic republic like our Founders envisioned and most of the developed countries of the world enjoy.
Chapter 9, “Put Lou Dobbs out to Pasture,” addresses the problem of what’s popularly referred to as “illegal immigration,” when, in reality, it is a problem of economics and illegal hiring by American companies. The problem started in 1986, when Reagan granted a blanket amnesty to millions of people who’d come into this country illegally, declared war on unions, and broke down the main barrier to entry to the workforce for people here without citizenship. The result has been more than 10 million non-citizens flowing across our borders (from countries all over the world—many come in on tourist or student visas and simply stay after their visa has expired), producing a massive dilution of the labor market. Add to that incendiary mixture a few right-wing racists pointing out the immigrants and telling frightened American workers, “Those brown people want your jobs!” and you have explosive brew. We can fix all of this by cracking down on companies illegally hiring “undocumented workers” and by tightening the labor market to shore up wages for American workers.
Chapter 10, “Wal-Mart Is Not a Person,” tells the story of how back in the 1880s corporations—then the railroad corporations, the giants of the Robber Baron Era—turned to the U.S. Supreme Court to give them human rights under the Constitution. Although the Court didn’t actually do that, the court reporter wrote that they did, and for 130 years we’ve seen the creeping encroachment of the corporate form into the house of rights our Founders fought and died for to give exclusively to humans. The pinnacle of this came in 2010 when the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are people and have political free-speech rights to spend millions, even billions, of dollars for or against political candidates and ballot initiatives. The result—if not fixed soon—will be the complete transformation of this country from a democracy into a corporate plutocracy. We need to block the Court in this superactivist behavior by amending the Constitution to say that only people are people.
Chapter 11, “In the Shadow of the Dragon,” tells the story of a visit to the Mondragon Corporation headquarters in the town of the same name in the Basque region of Spain in late 2009. We saw one of the world’s largest worker-owned businesses, with more than 90,000 employees turning over more than $14 billion a year worldwide. There are alternatives to the traditional top-down investor-owned corporate form, and people around the world are increasingly embracing these alternatives because they are better for local communities, better for the workforce, and better for the environment. The only losers are billionaires, particularly those who own most of our media and thus never tell you that every corporation in Germany, for example, must have at least 50 percent of its board of directors coming directly from the ranks of labor.
The conclusion, “Tag, You’re It!” is about tried-and-true methods—most that we’ve used before in this country and all that we’ve at least flirted with—that can bring back a strong middle class and restore America to stability and prosperity without endangering future generations. It’s straightforward, easily understood, and the only obstacle to implementing virtually every chapter’s suggestion is the power of vast wealth (usually corporate wealth). Past presidents—most famously Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt—have openly challenged this corporate power, and the time has come for the current or next president (and Congress) to do the same. But they won’t if We the People don’t demand it.

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Granted this sounds more like social democracy, but SD is still a capitalistic form of economy.*  And all of which sounds much more in line with the likes of Adam Smith and US founders. And which seems more of a transitional hybrid from a strictly laissez-faire capitalism that began the industrial revolution toward a more socialist kind of economics.

* According to Wikipedia:

Social democracy is a political ideology of the centre-left on the classic political spectrum. The contemporary social democratic movement seeks to reform capitalism to align it with the ethical ideals of social justice while maintaining the capitalist mode of production, as opposed to creating an alternative socialist economic system.[1] Practical modern social democratic policies include the promotion of a welfare state, and the creation of economic democracy as a means to secure workers' rights.[2]

Speaking of the American Dream of the past, Rachel Maddow had this to say, from the transcript of her Wednesday 1/26/11 show, talking about Republican President Eisenhower. How times have changed:

"For the next hour, we begin with the president of the United States addressing the nation and calling for a massive investment in this country‘s infrastructure, rebuffing the idea of giant tax breaks for the richest Americans, and warning anyone who would dare touch Social Security to keep their hands off.

You want to talk about red meat for the base?  Listen to some of the language the president used.  'Workers have a right to organize into unions and to bargain collectively with their employers.  And a strong, free labor movement is an invigorating and necessary part of our industrial society.'  Wow.

How about this one?  'Only a fool would try to deprive working men and women of their right to join the union of their choice.'

Listen to the way he goes after the right here.  'Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.  There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things, but their number is negligible and'—and the president says—'their number is negligible and they are stupid.'

That is not what Barack Obama said last night.  That is way to the left of any national Democrat at this point.  That was all Republican President Dwight David Eisenhower.  That was all the stuff he said when he was president.

Republican President Dwight Eisenhower, president when the top tax bracket for the richest people in this country was 92 percent.  President Eisenhower defended that tax bracket.  He said we cannot afford to reduce taxes until, quote, 'the factors of income and outgo will be balanced.'  Eisenhower insisting there must be a balanced budget and that taxes on the rich are the way to balance it.  Dwight Eisenhower, you know, noted leftist.

The Republican Party platform of Eisenhower‘s 1956 called for expansion of Social Security, broadened unemployment insurance, better health protection for all of our people.  It called for voting rights—full voting civil rights for D.C.  It called for expanding the minimum wage to cover more workers.  It called for improved job safety for workers, equal pay for workers regardless of sex.

This is the Republican Party circa 1956.  The Republican Party.

The story of modern American politics writ large is the story of your father‘s and your grandfather‘s Republican Party now being way to the left of today‘s leftiest liberals.  If Dwight Eisenhower were running for office today, he would have to run, I‘m guessing as an independent, and not as some Joe Lieberman, in between the parties, independent.  He‘d be a Bernie Sanders independent.

In 1982, who passed the largest peacetime tax increase in U.S.  history?  That would be Ronald Reagan.

Who called for comprehensive health reform legislation during in a State of the Union address in 1974, a program that was well to the left of what either Bill Clinton or Barack Obama ultimately proposed?  That would be Richard Nixon.

Eisenhower and Reagan and Nixon—they were not the liberals of their day.  They were the conservatives of their own time.

But the whole of American politics has shifted so far to the right in the last 50 years that what used to be thought of as conservative, what used to be thought of as a conservative position, is now considered to be off-the-charts lefty."

Recall above Hartmann saying the only way change will happen is if the American people demand it. And how I wondered in the Arab world thread if Americans can re-learn how to demonstrate in the streets en masse, like during the Vietnam war. This article from yesterday's Huff Post wonders the same for us when discussing Egypt in "Where's the protest at home?":

"But where are the protests in our country? Where is the leadership connecting the dots... between the financial meltdown, the record profits and bonuses on Wall Street, the continuing collapse of home equity, the joblessness, and the assault on public services in the name of budgetary prudence?.... This moment cries out for a combination of clear leadership and mass protest.... I'd like to see citizens protesting the wreckage of American prosperity by Wall Street and the too feeble response by our government."

Can our current system change without such mass protest?

Since that last post above we found out where the protests are in the US, and there are more to come. And not just protests but the regressive backslide had motivated a lot of progressives to finally get active. But back to the book. Here are some excerpts from a review by Ian Fletcher in today's Huff Post:

"[The book] will please liberal readers, but it will also challenge them to revisit some of their own lazy beliefs. It will annoy conservatives, but the smarter ones will take notes and absorb some of his trans-partisan insights into their own politics.

"On the whole, this is an excellent book on substance, and nicely written to boot. Above all, it gives off that rare and somewhat old-fashioned aroma of genuine concern for the country's good, as opposed to the pie-in-the-face partisanship or ax-grinding agenda mongering most political books these days consist of."

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