EppsNet Archive: Capitalism

A Lesson in Free Markets

20 Mar 2016 /

A lesson in free markets


Who Will Be America’s America?

1 Mar 2016 /

And do not forget that nearly all of the countless 20th-century innovations and industries that made the rest of the developed world so efficient and comfortable came from America, and it wasn’t a coincidence. As long as Europe had America taking risks, investing ambitiously, and yes, being “inequal,” it had the luxury of benefiting from the results without making the same sacrifices. Who will be America’s America?

— Garry Kasparov

Talking About the Benefits of Socialism is a Capitalist Luxury

1 Mar 2016 /


‘I Am a Marxist’ Says Dalai Lama

2 Feb 2015 /
The 14th Dalai Lama

The 14th Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama identified himself as a Marxist on Tuesday while addressing capitalism, discrimination and violence at a lecture on world peace in Kolkata, India. This is not the first time that the 14th Dalai Lama has spoken about his political leaning – in 2011 he said: “I consider myself a Marxist…but not a Leninist” when speaking at a conference in Minneapolis . . .

The Tibetan spiritual leader partly blamed capitalism for inequality and said he regarded Marxism as the answer: “In capitalist countries, there is an increasing gap between the rich and the poor. In Marxism, there is emphasis on equal distribution,” he said.

— Newsweek

Hello, Dalai? An emphasis on equal distribution is not the same thing as equal distribution. In practice, there never seems to be equal distribution, because whoever gets to be in charge of actually distributing the goodies equally acquires a dictatorial level of power that would be wasted were it not used to make sure that most or all of the goodies get distributed to themselves and the people they like. This is followed by shortages, starvation and mass murder.


A Spectacularly Bad Job of Rigging the System

19 May 2014 /

If you nevertheless believe that the capitalists have been busily rigging the system in their own interest, you’ve got to admit they’ve done a spectacularly bad job of it. How else to explain the quintuple taxation of capital income, where you can invest a dollar that was taxed the day you earned it, then pay corporate income taxes, dividend taxes, capital gains taxes and inheritance taxes on the income it throws off? Surely any concern that the rich are calling the policy shots should melt away in the face of actual policy.

— Steven Landsburg

More People I’m Sick Unto Death Of: Angela Davis

8 May 2014 /
Angela Davis

I still believe that capitalism is the most dangerous kind of future we can imagine.

Alternatives to capitalism have resulted in shortages, famine, mass murder and societal collapse (cf., Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, the Soviet Union, Communist China, North Korea, Cuba, Libya, Venezuela … I could go on and on but I think we both get the point).

Can anyone list a few capitalist countries where this has occurred? If not, what does the word “dangerous” mean in this context?

Angela Davis is now 70 years old. Can anyone list a few well-known Angela Davis-style radicals who lived a long life in any of the aforementioned countries?


Regulating Markets

13 Feb 2014 /
Markets, Firms and Property Rights: A Celebrat...

The arguments for regulation of the market for goods and the regulation of the market for ideas are essentially the same, except that they’re perhaps stronger in the area of ideas if you assume consumer ignorance. It’s easier for people to discover that they have a bad can of peaches than it is for them to discover that they have a bad idea.


Twitter: 2010-09-12

12 Sep 2010 /
Twitter
  • RT @NikkiGlaser: Tell me I'm not the only one who has to get drunk to look at my checking account. #
  • RT @eddiepepitone: Capitalism's last ad- "Since the nuclear devastation we are slashing prices! Everything Must Go!" #

Pursuing the One True Good

27 Jun 2010 /
George Orwell

Most of us believe in our hearts that there is only one good and that ideally everyone should pursue it. In a perfect centrally planned socialist state everyone is part of a hierarchy pursuing the same end. If that end is the one true good, that society will be perfect in a sense in which a capitalist society, where everyone pursues his own differing and imperfect perception of the good, cannot be. Since most socialists imagine a socialist government to be controlled by people very like themselves, they imagine that it will pursue the true good—the one that they, imperfectly, perceive. That is surely better than a chaotic system in which all sorts of people other than the socialists perceive all sorts of other goods and waste valuable resources chasing them. People who dream about a socialist society rarely consider the possibility that some of those other people may succeed in imposing their ends on the dreamer, instead of the other way around. George Orwell is the only exception who comes to mind.

— David Friedman, The Machinery of Freedom


Thomas Jefferson on the Financial Meltdown

27 Mar 2009 /

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — If anyone could emerge from the AIG bonus debacle looking good, it could be New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

Thomas Jefferson

Cuomo. KWOH-moh. Italian, I suppose.

I have no personal animosity toward Mr. Cuomo, but despite his favorable write-ups in the press, he is certainly no hero in these matters.

Americans have short memories. Even members of the press — or “the media,” as you now call them — who should provide context and perspective, have short memories.

Set the Wayback Machine to 1995. Bill Clinton is president and Henry Cisneros, the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary, institutes a requirement that 42 percent of the mortgages financed by government-sponsored entities (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac serve low- and moderate-income families.

Things only got worse under Cisneros’ successor, Andrew Cuomo:

Cuomo raised that number to 50 percent and dramatically hiked GSE mandates to buy mortgages in underserved neighborhoods and for the “very-low-income.” Part of the pitch was racial, with Cuomo contending that Fannie and Freddie weren’t granting mortgages to minorities at the same rate as the private market. William Apgar, Cuomo’s top aide, told The Washington Post: “We believe that there are a lot of loans to black Americans that could be safely purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac if these companies were more flexible.”

Hey, I’ve got an idea! Let’s put half of the GSE money into mortgages for very low income black people! And let’s not trouble them for a down payment either:

Fannie also developed a “flexible” product line, providing up to 100 percent financing and requiring borrowers to make as little as a $500 contribution, and bought $13.7 billion of those loans in 2003.

And yet I often hear the ensuing financial meltdown being blamed on “greed” and “the evils of capitalism.”

That was not capitalism; that was government manipulation of the housing market.

Americans have very short memories . . .


Failure is an Orphan

1 Feb 2009 /

For centuries, historians have debated whether history is propelled by Great Men (and Women), human forces of nature who bend events and systems to their will, or by vast impersonal forces (communism, capitalism, globalization) that render even the most powerful of us a mere reed basket floating in a massive river. There’s no session on the subject at the World Economic Forum in Davos. But at least with regard to finance and business, the consensus seems to be clear: Success is the work of Great Men and Great Women, while failure can be pinned on the system.