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Monday, May 14, 2012
The Moral Case for Capitalism

As a student of history and economics, I've long believed that capitalism is a much more moral system of human exchange than socialism or communism. Capitalism causes mutually beneficial relations between people. In the process it honors individuals, their talents, their ambitions, their choices and their values. To say that a system based on self-interests and the profit motive is more moral than one where government controls the means of production (through tight regulation or ownership) and redistributes private wealth is counter-intuitive to some people. But, it's true, though hard to effectively articulate.

The best explanation I've seen on this is a piece titled "An Audacious Promise: The Moral Case for Capitalism" by James R. Otteson. To set up his case, he dismantles the argument by President Obama that capitalism has failed. Don't be put off by what seems like a political statement because it's not really an article about politics. Otteson's real purpose is to make that case that capitalism as practiced over the past 200 years or so is a bright spot in an otherwise brutish 100,000 years existence of our species.

Posted by: David May @ 6:00:00 am  Comments (0)Read More»»
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Free Markets Lift People Out of Poverty

Government serves important purposes, but for some things, like creating economic prosperity, for example, the free market is far superior. As the communist economic model imploded in the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and China and India - the world's most populous countries - opened up their markets, the poverty rate around the globe shrank dramatically. In the past 30 years, the percentage of people living on less than the equivalent of $1.25 per day from 52 percent of the world population to 22 percent.

According to Guy Sorman writing in City Journal, the United States deserves much of the credit. You can read his article here.

Posted by: David May @ 12:00:00 am  Comments (0)Read More»»
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
America on the Rise

People over 50 will remember the dire predictions in the mid-1980s that the sun was setting on America, eclipsed by an ascendant Japan. We know how that ended, right? The American economy boomed while the Japanese asset price bubble burst, collapsing Japan’s economy. The period from 1991 to present is known as the Lost Decades in Japan. Oh, and in its spare time, America played the key role is defeating communism as famously illustrated by the fall of the Berlin Wall and the implosion of the Soviet Union.

Posted by: David May @ 12:00:00 am  Comments (0)Read More»»
Thursday, October 13, 2011
A Love Letter to Free Enterprise

“In a free economy, the pursuit of profits and serving people are one and the same. No one argues that the free enterprise system is perfect, but it’s the closest we’ll come here on Earth.”  -- Walter E. Williams, John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics,George Mason University.

Capitalism is a beautiful system of human exchange. Millions, even billions, of strangers spread across the globe, acting in their own self-interest help each other. This daily pursuit of self-interest is natural, constructive and largely overlooked as the underlying genius of capitalism.

The uninformed often point to profit motive as selfish and greedy, even manipulative. Basically, they opine, capitalism is about exploitation. That view ignores all sorts of dynamics including free will, the other party’s self-interests and competition. Customers (clients, patients, etc.) bring their self-interests to the table, too. If a for-profit entity doesn’t have what they want at the price the customer is willing to pay, the customer can walk away. They will do business with the company that does meet their needs (self-interests).

Far from being exploitive, both parties work to find some mutual accommodation within the boundaries of their self-interests.

I bring all of this up because free enterprise is under attack in the public square, most recently during the so-called “Occupy Wall Street” protests and their several offshoots. Apply your own values to those events. I’ll largely spare you from mine other than to declare that I love free enterprise. Dr. Williams’ quote at the beginning of this post captures my sentiments exactly.He made that statement in a speech he delivered a few years ago called “The Entrepreneur as American Hero.” It's a classic.

After a recent dose of inane anti-business rhetoric it was restorative to re-read it. If you need the same kind of tonic, I recommend Dr. Williams’ speech to you. You can find it here.

Posted by: David May @ 12:00:00 am  Comments (0)Read More»»
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Labor Day? How About Employers Day?

Labor Day Weekend has come and gone. Some people had to work, of course, but many people had Monday off, a traditional 3-day weekend for a last end-of-the-summer fling. (Technically, the last day of summer is September 22, but a manmade construct like the school calendar overrides the autumnal equinox!)

In theory, though most of us were hiking, at the pool or shopping, yesterday was about celebrating ‘labor,’ as in organized labor. Growing up in a railroad union family, I know how important the union movement was at one point in our nation’s history. Some of the benefits, work hours and safety regulations common today have their roots in hard fought battles of the past.

But the operative word there is “past.” Membership in private sector unions has plummeted over the years.

A friend quipped that we really should replace ‘labor’ with ‘employer.’

Posted by: David May @ 12:00:00 am  Comments (0)Read More»»