. . . Historically speaking, capitalism has proven itself time after time to be the most viable system for generating wealth. If you can study 20th century history and not end up a capitalist in some sense, I don’t know what to do with you. Yet because of a few . . . “weirdo” capitalists, the system itself has understandably fallen into question with many. When such skeptics hear “capitalist” they conjure images of men like Ken Lay or Jeff Skilling, former Enron execs who bled their workers dry in order to preserve their own wealth. Or they think of a man like Bernie Madoff, who conned countless people out of millions before finally being caught last year. Thinking more historically, they might imagine the slave holders of the United States and Great Britain or the colonizers of Africa, all groups that used capitalism to justify their horrific actions.
Yet before these men were capitalists, they were something else: greedy, self-absorbed fiends whose sole objective in life was to satisfy every hedonistic whim with no regard for the good of other people. And in a few cases, you can add to that self-centered hedonism a heaping helping of religious arrogance. Such attitudes are, needless to say, a recipe for disaster, which do to capitalism what men like this week’s street preacher and Osama bin Laden do to Christianity and Islam, respectively. Capitalism in conversation with an external moral code regulating it is not an evil system. What is evil is capitalism in a vacuum, devoid of any external guidance. In short, consumerism – the sort of capitalism exemplified by Lay, Skilling and Madoff.
So I call myself a capitalist with a seat belt. . . .
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Jake Meador writes in the Daily Nebraskan (citing Claar & Klay along the way):