Capitalism has received an astonishingly bad rap this week. Let’s review the facts.
First, the Washington Examiner uncovered a prepared presentation to the House Democratic caucus and staff that details their new rhetorical strategy: If you argue for free-market solutions, you are a racist. Seriously. You can’t make this stuff up.
Well, as Milton Friedman once said, “The great virtue of a free-market system is that it does not care what color people are; it does not care what their religion is; it only cares whether they can produce something you want to buy. It is the most effective system we have discovered to enable people who hate one another to deal with one another and help one another.”
Or to not quote Milton Friedman, where would sandwiches be without peanut butter? (Washington Carver). Or how about “the real McCoy?” (Elijah McCoy, inventor of McCoy’s oil-dripping cup for trains. African-American). Or try the first African-American millionaire – self-made, SHE invented a hair lotion in the early 20th century. Capitalism has always been an American bastion for any person to earn security for themselves outside of legal or social restrictions.
In fact, keeping an institution wholly public practically ensures that outdated rules will remain, while innovation will remain scarce. For example, in regards to private education, Middlebury started accepting African-American students as early as 1823 – compare that to the famous Brown v. Board of Education ruling declaring segregation in public schools unconstitutional. In 1954. As soon as government gets involved, racial minorities have historically encountered formidable legal setbacks as opposed to surmountable interpersonal ones.
Then in The New York Times on Saturday, the opinion section featured an editorial by William Deresiewicz titled “Capitalists and Other Psychopaths.” In it, he cites a study that indicates 10 percent of Wall Streeters are “clinical psychopaths,” and says humorously, “I always found the notion of a business school amusing. What kinds of courses do they offer? Robbing Widows and Orphans? Grinding the Faces of the Poor? Having It Both Ways? Feeding at the Public Trough?”
Sidenote: Deresiewicz, coincidentally, is the author of “The Jane Austen Handbook,” in which he treats the idea that Jane Austen bears a moral component as a revelation. It is a tiresome book, and indicates where this man’s “independent thoughts” take him – that is, not far enough.
So Deresiewicz proposes government step in to monitor the corrupt capitalists, because nature abhors a vacuum, there must always be an answer, etc. etc. But why would political greed be better than financial greed? His base assertion is flawed, because he assumes that one type of man/woman/she-man enters the private sector, and that their nature is inherently worse than those persons who enter the public sector. This is a gross, unacademic generalization – there are no more psychopaths in finance than there are inherently unproductive bureaucrats, or rageaholic cops, or paedophilic priests. Into every profession some freaks fall, and as Tracy Morgan once said, “Freaky-deakies need love too.”
What’s more, nonprofits and charities and churches are all the direct result of someone earning some money and deciding to spend it a certain way. Without financial freedom, people may not surprise you with their deeds, and that perhaps denotes security for frightened Ivy League professors like Deresiewicz and other timid souls. But the fact remains that all progress is the direct result of an individual working with another individual, freely and in concert. Without capitalism, progress is both suspect and short-lived.