Thursday, December 13, 2012

Unexamined Capitalism Will Not Serve Us Well

13 December 2012

In response to a comment on a Bloomberg View article, “Romney’s Bain Yielded Private Gains, Socialized Losses,” Online Gym writes:
“Gozo I sort of agree Capitalism remains the most-effective economic model....And yes our capitalist model is flawed. But it takes decades to get it correct....It’s almost like we need to slow down and review our growth and correct what needs to be corrected....”
This is exactly right: being that capitalism is a human “invention,” of course it has flaws. Perfection is always the pinnacle to which we aspire, not one on which it is given to us to stand.

Given that we exist in a universe cycle of perpetual motion, of perpetual ebb and flow—of perpetual energy and entropy (as described in Newton’s laws)—the Perfect is near-certain to exceed our grasp.

This cycle provides the only canvas available for our great works. Which means that, often, “we need to slow down and review our growth and correct what needs to be corrected.”

The way I see it, the Conservative mind-set is particularly averse to taking the wrong steps, in fear of making new mistakes. The hazards of “unintended consequences” seems to come quickly to the Conservative mind and lips.

That’s a good thing: the impulsive Progressives need someone to help slow them up. To keep them from rushing willy-nilly over the cliff.

But, then society as a whole needs the progressive risk-takers, such the Wright brothers, who take that cliff-leap and lead us eventually to flying around the world, seven miles up, at a thousand miles an hour.

The “slow down and review” process began in earnest with the election of Ronald Reagan as President.

Under his guidance, sure, our debt grew to frightening heights. But things also got brought back down to Earth.

America took a breath, a pause, following the heady epoch from the Great Depression to the declines of the Vietnam War and the Great Society.

But it’s now thirty-two years on. This Conservative pull-back has hampered us with ideology that, the more its elements fail, the more its adherents want to double down.

We need to take a clearer look at capitalism, and how it really works.

First of all, we ought to go read the book, to see how Adam Smith characterizes collaboration as the key element, rather than this thing about “competition” and “greed,” which are essentially side-effects.

I think it’s a crime that we don’t teach such essential things in our schools. I believe we waste a tremendous learning and growth opportunity in our educational system, by not recognizing the demographic changes of the last century.

American kids no longer grow up in single-earner homes, where they learn our culture’s habits and values there. Instead, our kids learn from television and the Internet and the streets. It’s no longer enough to teach them history and math/science.

We need to teach them how to manage their economic lives. And how to manage our political society as a whole.

My personal, big question is, “How do we get there from here, when the Right is so-blindingly focused on winning the tug-of-war between sides, that we have impasse at every turn?”

Unfortunately, I haven’t a clue. And so I keep coming around to places like this, getting up on my soapbox, and hoping that I can finally manage to spy something, from perched on the soapbox’s modest height.

(($; -)}
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