Monday, January 23, 2012

Capitalism and Economic Fairness

David Morris, in the opinion pages of the Sunday, January 22,2012, Minneapolis Star Tribune, has also responded to Mitt Romney's comments on the Today Show last week.  His five points about economic fairness show how envy of the rich may be an emotional factor, but there are other factors contributing to economic unfairness.  Mr. Morris spells it out in a clear, concise article I'd recommend all the candidates, all of them, to read.

Now why couldn't Gov. Romney have confronted the issue squarely and talked about economic unfairness in more than sound bytes about envy and class warfare?  This is what truly bugs me about all politicians now.  It doesn't matter which political party, they all act the same in public.  A confession: I haven't been watching the debates and perhaps they go into more detail about what's behind their sound bytes during them, but the clips I've seen look suspiciously like only verbal jousting without substance.  It makes me wonder just how intelligent these guys are, you know?  The purpose of political rhetoric in the present seems to be only to inflame emotions and prejudices rather than lead a civil, calm national discussion.  Sure, I want to listen, but please have something substantive to say that isn't just a collection of sound bytes.

Then I spot an article in the January 30, 2012 issue of Time Magazine about fixing capitalism.  Whoa!  Is that possible?  The author, David Rothkopf, wrote about the issues that will be brought up at the next World Economic Forum in Davos.  Fixing capitalism relates directly to the issue of economic unfairness, and in fact, Mr. Rothkopf writes about the effect growing income inequality has on American capitalism. 

Mr. Rothkopf talks about the rise of big stateless corporations that threaten capitalism, nations and governments as we've known them up until now.   He claims these corporations essentially have more power than governments and can call the shots, and they've become entities that have more rights than people.  How did this happen?  Aaaaah, yes.  Deregulation.  Regulation serves an important stabilizing purpose in capitalism and to turn companies loose without any regulation is asking for disaster.  Say, what?  Oh, yeah, the housing collapse in 2007-08 followed by all those "too big to fail" business entities that came very close to imploding -- we're living that disaster right now!  Where is the Glass-Steagall Act when we need it?!

I find it scary to think of large stateless corporations having their way with life on this planet.  The thought conjures images of indentured servants, dark cavernous skyscrapers, and Gordon Gecko.  To serve the god of capitalism, i.e. money.  Mr. Rothkopf makes a strong case in his article that we need to re-evaluate American capitalism, Adam Smith's theories, and other models of capitalism, e.g.what the Chinese have been doing, Eurocapitalism, democratic development capitalism (India and Brazil) and small state entrepreneurial capitalism (Singapore) in order to develop a new capitalism.  Other models favor a stronger state role in regulation, ownership and control of assets than American capitalism.

Greed is NOT good.  It's destructive to society as well as to human interaction and relationships...

Credit: Matthew Sherwood for National Post

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