09.30.2009 0

The Barstool Economist: Where Are the Defenders of Capitalism?

  • On: 10/21/2009 09:55:46
  • In: Economy

  • The Barstool Economist: Where Are the Defenders of Capitalism?

    By Justin Williams

    When the “New Deal” is taught in public schools around the nation, students are told that Franklin D. Roosevelt’s big government programs were there to “save capitalism.” And when George W. Bush pushed for bailouts and stimuli at the end of his term, he stated, “I’ve abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system.”

    Now, Americans have elected a president who has taken the stance that private companies have failed at healthcare, pollution control, automobile manufacturing, banking, and fiscal solvency during this recession. And Barack Obama has threatened a government healthcare takeover, costly cap-and-tax restrictions, and draconian bank regulations along with more bailouts and trillion-dollar, deficit exploding stimuli.

    So now the left and Michael Moore are helping Obama bury the free-market system by asking rhetorically, with a clear alternative in mind, “What is the price that America pays for its love of Capitalism?”

    But the real question should be: “Where are the defenders of capitalism and free-markets?”

    Capitalism assumes that markets have “free competition.” That means for a business to succeed, it does so without the help or hindrance of government coercion.

    Many of those who blame capitalism for this recession use businessmen and capitalists as their scapegoat. But the truth is, these powerful individuals are anything but champions for the system that has made them rich.

    For example, in last week’s Slate column Eliot Spitzer wrote “The chamber [of commerce] remains an unabashed voice for the libertarian worldview that caused the most catastrophic economic meltdown since the Great Depression.” When the truth is, as Timothy P. Carney at the Washington Examiner reports, “The Chamber lobbied for the Great Wall Street Bailout, lobbied for the $787 billion stimulus bill, and supported a bigger Cash-for-Clunkers.”

    The unprecedented massive new growth in government has changed “market-entrepreneurs” into “political-entrepreneurs.” In other words, money-hungry businessmen can do far better lobbying a few politicians with the power to allocate billions (now trillions), then trying to please millions of private individuals who each may spend thousands.

    In the past, the champions of capitalism become winners by satisfying consumers with products that people want to buy. The apologists for the new big government system become winners by satisfying politicians by delivering bribes and campaign contributions (but, I repeat myself) that directly result in votes.

    In short, the real culprit is not true capitalism; it is the political “pay-to-play” perversion of capitalism.
    The reason big government destroys productivity and wealth is that it causes efficient resources and capital to be shifted towards political favoritism and lobbying. Every single dollar that is spent taking a congressman out to dinner or a junket (excuse me, “fact-finding trip”), could have been used to expand production or create a new and exciting product.

    During the Great Depression it was Objectivist Ayn Rand and economist Ludwig von Mises that stepped up to the plate to defend capitalism. So, where are our defenders of capitalism today? Well, you needn’t bother sending Diogenes to Wall Street.

    Justin Williams is the Senior Commentary Editor of ALG News Bureau and, as always, he accepts questions and comments at [email protected]


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