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Portfolio > Economy & Markets > Economic Trends

A rumination on why we fight

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Well, not fight really, but why we continue to make the case that capitalism and the free markets are not broken, and certainly not dead (despite the view of the Washington Post, Newsweek and so, so many others). When the freely elected leader of the world’s most successful democracy can now personally order the removal of the chief executive of a private company (much in the same way as hedge fund managers and other large investors), unprecedented doesn’t begin to describe it.

Peggy Noonan, with props to business philosopher Michael Novak (and sounding like the Corinthians 13:4 wedding staple), notes that capitalism is good because, of all the economic systems devised by man, it is the one that lifts the greatest numbers out of poverty (China, India).

“Capitalism is itself not selfish, exploitative, unequal; it wants to grow and produce, bringing more services, more creativity, more opportunity, more ferment and movement–more life. It is not just an economic system, it is a public good.”

Noble. Constructive. Admirable. When was the last time anyone thought of Wall Street like that, Noonan rightly asks?

But a friend recently witnessed the alternative. The University of Colorado hosted an evening with Ward Churchill and Bill Ayers. When Ayers noted a drop in the Dow that day, the crowd stood and cheered. Na?ve college students, you might say? The hall had more than its share of 40 and 50-somethings. Sure, we can dismiss it as the echo-chamber of academic ivory towers, and I’m in no way making the ridiculous comparison of the current administration with Churchill and Ayers. But too many other pundits and politicians display the same naivet? of the college crowd, with the power and influence to do something about it. I said unprecedented doesn’t begin to describe it; downright scary is more like it.


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