Tuesday, February 26, 2013

How did Capitalism get this Reputation?

My Word: Greed is steering economy into ruins

By George Via
February 26, 2013 Orlando Sentinel
We can tell a lot about the goodness of our society by the things we put in the economy.
I almost hesitate to speak of goodness, lest people deem it an unwarranted intrusion into their right to do whatever they please. And yet, good solutions are often simple and have profound positive effects, while the consequences of ignoring simple truths can be heavy.
Consider capitalism, touted by politicians in their hyperbole as the greatest thing on Earth. In the past 50 years, however, this system has broken down with almost clocklike precision. Our elected leaders watched while scofflaws enriched themselves.
Apparently, cheaters do prosper, and they have corrupted the morals of our economy.
Consider also this simple adage from the Bible: "For the love of money is pure evil." Greed is the sinister face of this hardened evil, and yet almost all of our economic laws are driven by this admittedly immoral practice. Surely, the collapse of our system is inevitable.
In the sacred Writings of the Bahá'í Faith, the founder Bahá'u'lláh has given a dire warning for this wayward generation. He states that "Greed hath made captive all mankind," and foretells a miserable conclusion for our collective heedlessness. Why must it always be so?
Nowhere is the flagrant avarice more apparent than the fuel economy. Imagine, scientists can send spacecraft out of the solar system, but cars are designed to waste fuel.
So the oil criminals and the crooked politicians they own keep raking in billions. This money funds the development of military weapons, bankrupting the economies of nations that don't have fuel resources, and threatening to destroy us all.
Add to this the alcohol, drug, sex and entertainment industries, to name but a few of the pervasively immoral businesses in the economy, and our economy no longer works to advance society as a whole. Instead, it panders to base appetites and corrupt motives of selfish groups.
God has given the Earth as a gift to his creatures, without requiring so much as a down payment. When we act like we own it, to the detriment of others, the day will come when we find out otherwise.
George Via of Winter Park is on the advisory board of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida.

Note - My response to this Op-Ed will be in the February 27, 2013 Orlando Sentinel.

1 comment:

  1. While there are some businesses that make money by cheating their customers, they are quickly weeded out by the market and forced into bankruptcy unless the government subsidizes them. Most businesses engage in a mutually beneficial relationship with their customers that conclude with each party saying “thank you”.

    Capitalism has gotten this undeserved reputation through a constant pounding on television, in the movies, in mainstream news outlets, and in the universities. While capitalism has been the greatest economic force to lift people out of poverty the world has ever seen, it is losing the culture war.

    Routinely, film and television plots revolve around a diabolical, evil businessman raping the Earth and pillaging the masses for personal gain that perpetuate stereotypes like the ones used in this article. There are often subtle and not-so-subtle references demeaning capitalism laced throughout these shows. These plots are often reinforced in mainstream newspaper and television headline stories cherry-picked to echo the sentiments of this anti-capitalist caricature embraced by many journalists.

    Regular watchers of the late night talk shows and entertainment TV know that it’s not cool to advocate tax cuts or question the integrity or results of the social welfare system. President Obama knows this well. He regularly places himself in the midst of pop culture icons, campaigning on talk shows and in entertainment magazines rather than in forums where substantive issues could be critically analyzed.

    Many children are taught in taxpayer funded government schools that businesses are wicked and that government is fair. Universities reinforce this image where students are taught by ex-hippies turned tenured professors, most of whom have never risked one dollar to develop a product or offer a service that grows the economy in any meaningful way.

    Once they are out of the school system, most people skim the top of the entertainment culture, gathering political and economic opinions from the Daily Show, Saturday Night Live, or David Letterman. Then, it’s off to the voting booth to elect the candidate most aligned with their hip, politically-correct and “fair” world view.

    Most never scrutinize their economic positions because the anti-capitalist stereotype is so ingrained that to consider other opinions is regarded as unnecessary and ridiculous. Sources offering a more capitalist friendly perspective are considered to be evil and stupid, and, therefore, anyone considering that position is evil or stupid by association. It’s the standard bully tactic used in high school that scares kids away from sitting at the lunch table with those the cool kids have deemed nerds.

    One way to begin to reverse this reputation is for pro-capitalist, pro-freedom entertainers, producers, and advocates to enter the market. It’s a terribly difficult risk in those industries dominated by an anti-capitalist mentality. While there are a few already in the vanguard of such an endeavor, more pro-freedom voices in the entertainment world will help break the taboo of speaking about such things in mixed company.

    Stepping back to the source of the anti-capitalist reputation, if parents demand greater school choice and break away from government-funded education, their children will grow up with a better-educated and more critical mindset. They will be better able to evaluate the reliability of the stereotypes they are presented with in the media, and a more honest discussion of the issues can begin.

    When capitalism is unchained from popular myth and let loose in the arena of ideas, it never loses.