Why you should be a capitalist
... From the dawn of history until the 18th century, every society in the world was impoverished, with only the thinnest film of wealth on top. Then came capitalism and the Industrial Revolution. Everywhere that capitalism subsequently took hold, national wealth began to increase and poverty began to fall. Everywhere that capitalism didn't take hold, people remained impoverished. Everywhere that capitalism has been rejected since then, poverty has increased.
Capitalism has lifted the world out of poverty because it gives people a chance to get rich by creating value and reaping the rewards. Who better to be president of the greatest of all capitalist nations than a man who got rich by being a brilliant capitalist?
Yet it hasn't worked out that way for Mr. Romney. "Capitalist" has become an accusation. The creative destruction that is at the heart of a growing economy is now seen as evil. Americans increasingly appear to accept the mind-set that kept the world in poverty for millennia: If you've gotten rich, it is because you made someone else poorer.
What happened to turn the mood of the country so far from our historic celebration of economic success?
Two important changes in objective conditions have contributed to this change in mood. One is the rise of collusive capitalism. Part of that phenomenon involves crony capitalism, whereby the people on top take care of each other at shareholder expense (search on "golden parachutes").
But the problem of crony capitalism is trivial compared with the collusion engendered by government. In today's world, every business's operations and bottom line are affected by rules set by legislators and bureaucrats. The result has been corruption on a massive scale.
Sometimes the corruption is retail, whereby a single corporation creates a competitive advantage through the cooperation of regulators or politicians (search on "earmarks"). Sometimes the corruption is wholesale, creating an industrywide potential for profit that would not exist in the absence of government subsidies or regulations (like ethanol used to fuel cars and low-interest mortgages for people who are unlikely to pay them back). Collusive capitalism has become visible to the public and increasingly defines capitalism in the public mind.
Another change in objective conditions has been the emergence of great fortunes made quickly in the financial markets. It has always been easy for Americans to applaud people who get rich by creating products and services that people want to buy. That is why Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were American heroes a century ago, and Steve Jobs was one when he died last year.
When great wealth is generated instead by making smart buy and sell decisions in the markets, it smacks of inside knowledge, arcane financial instruments, opportunities that aren't accessible to ordinary people, and hocus-pocus. The good that these rich people have done in the process of getting rich is obscure. The benefits of more efficient allocation of capital are huge, but they are really, really hard to explain simply and persuasively. It looks to a large proportion of the public as if we've got some fabulously wealthy people who haven't done anything to deserve their wealth.Wealth envy is a self defeating feeling. It gains you nothing while denying the efficiency of the marketplace which actually creates more wealth. I had the opportunity to work for some wealthy men, although not all of them remained wealthy because of market dynamics they were not able to foresee. That is an interesting aspect of capitalism. It is not always easy to stay rich. Unfortunately, the Democrats like Obama are pushing policies that will destroy wealth.
By destroying wealth, they are destroying opportunity to millions.
It is ridiculous to suggest that Steve Jobs or Bill Gates should "give back." Jobs and Gates have created more jobs alone than Obama's trillion dollar stimulus and the product of their efforts have made thousands of jobs more efficient and productive. Our problem is not that they have not "given back." The problem is that government is getting in the way of the efforts to make us more productive.
Obama has been propping up old labor organizations rather than challenging them to become more efficient and productive. The UAW deal with GM was a disaster for the company coming out of bankruptcy and was a terrible investment of taxpayer funds. Obama has been trying to strangle the domestic production of energy on federal sites while exporting those jobs to other countries some of which are hostile to our interest. He has been pushing inefficient energy projects many of which have failed rather than allowing our own domestic energy business to invest and thrive.