Jonah Goldberg writes in National Review Online, Capitalism vs Capitalists
“Every ten years I quote the same adage from the late Austrian analyst Willi Schlamm, ….. ‘The trouble with socialism is socialism. The trouble with capitalism is capitalists.'”
If by “capitalist” you mean someone who cares more about his own profit than yours; if you mean someone who cares more about providing for his family than providing for yours; if you mean someone who trusts that he is a better caretaker of his own interests and desires than a bureaucrat he’s never met, often in a city he’s never been to: then we are all capitalists. Because, by that standard, capitalism isn’t some far-off theory about the allocation of capital; it is a commonsense description of what motivates pretty much all human beings everywhere.
At the end of the day, it is entirely natural for humans to work the system – any system – for their own betterment, whatever kind of system that may be.
The problem with socialism is socialism, because there are no socialists. Socialism is a system based upon an assumption about human nature that simply isn’t true. I can design a perfect canine community in which dogs never chase squirrels or groom their nether regions in an indelicate manner. But the moment I take that idea from the drawing board to the real world, I will discover that I cannot get dogs to behave against their nature – at least not without inflicting a terrible amount of punishment.
And it’s also why the problem with capitalism is capitalists. Some people will always abuse the system and take things too far. Some will do it out of the hubris of intellect. Some will do it out of the venality of greed.
We are fond of saying that the answer to free-speech problems is more free speech. But we seem incapable of grasping that sometimes – and only sometimes – the solution to capitalism’s problems is more capitalism.
HKO comments– Jonah Goldberg’s last analogy to free speech brilliantly clarifies the absurdity of our response to the financial meltdown. Can you imagine a problem caused by free speech to be addressed by restricting free speech? Our right to free speech is too precious to even consider such a solution. Yet our most precious liberties to address our own health care and financial future is being massively disrupted.
Our banking system and our health care system are some of the most heavily regulated businesses in our country and yet we exclusively blame the free market for their problems. Instead of addressing the massive role played by government interference we are passing laws that require more interference.