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Capitalism Fingered as Fiend of the Past Decade

goldberg-post1On the last day of 2009, that awful year, I was listening to a report on National Public Radio (yes, I'm a listener). Reporter Tamara Keith presented a by-now-familiar recap of the worst financial and corporate scandals of the decade, from Enron and Martha Stewart to Tyco and Bernie Madoff. It was a depressing slog of greed, venality and theft. When the report was over, "Morning Edition" host Steve Inskeep summarized the report with a tart: "The decade in capitalism."

I don't want to single out Inskeep, since he was doing what pretty much the entire media establishment has done, particularly of late: reducing "capitalism" to its alleged sins.

And that's the point. There are few areas of life where a thing responsible for so much good gets so little credit for it.

Imagine if I were to collect the most infamous deeds of African-Americans over the last decade -- say, Michael Vick's dog-fighting scandal and O.J. Simpson's most recent criminal exploit -- and then put a bow on it with the phrase "the decade in black America." What if I did the same thing with Jews? Bernie Madoff, the face of Jewish America! Do the scandals of Rod Blagojevich, Charlie Rangel and John Edwards define the Democratic Party from 2000 to 2010? Do Abu Ghraib and the balloon boy sum up America?

Consider NPR. As a brand, it claims to be standing athwart capitalism because it's "public." What that means exactly is a bit unclear, since it still allows corporations to fund its programming in exchange for audio endorsements none dare call commercials and relies on the kindness of listeners to keep it afloat -- listeners who, one way or another, make their money from you-know-what.

Indeed, speaking of the decade in capitalism, National Public Radio failed to mention that Joan Kroc, widow of Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald's, left more than $200 million to NPR in 2003. Mrs. Kroc's generosity of spirit was her own, but the wampum is all capitalism's, baby.

In a similar vein, the decade of capitalism saw one of the world's richest men, Warren Buffett, pledge more than $30 billion to a foundation created by another offspring of capitalism, Bill Gates, for the purpose of aiding the world's poor. Surely capitalism should get some of the credit, since the book on philanthropy in non-capitalist systems is shorter than the guide to cities without Starbucks.

Capitalism doesn't just create generous wealthy people, but generous poor people, too. Americans give twice as much to charity as the most generous European nations, and the most generous Americans are, in fact, poor Americans.

But forget philanthropy. Since 2000, hundreds of millions of people in China and India -- home to a plurality of the world's poor -- have lifted themselves out of poverty and illiteracy thanks to capitalism.

China started to embrace markets as a last resort in the late 1970s. And by last resort, I mean last resort. First they tried murdering tens of millions of their own people through collectivism and oppression. When that didn't work, they embraced markets, and the poverty rate dropped from 64 percent to around 8 percent today.

As it always does, capitalism drove innovation over the last decade. The BlackBerry was introduced in 1999, but the iPhone didn't exist in 2000, nor did the iPod. YouTube was a fantasy, and no one could even imagine why you'd ever need something like Facebook or Twitter (in fairness, some people still ask that question). iTunes was launched in 2003, and five years later it was outselling Wal-Mart as the No. 1 music retailer. Government-funded basic research in medical science deserves some credit for breakthroughs, but it's worth remembering that lots of countries invest in basic research. America, with its markets, stands alone as the leading, arguably sole, source of medical innovation. Breakthrough drugs are as American as apple pie.

Every good thing capitalism helps produce -- from singing careers to cures for diseases to staggering charity -- is credited to some other sphere of our lives. Every problem with capitalism, meanwhile, is laid at her feet. Except the problems with capitalism -- greed, theft, etc. -- aren't capitalism's fault, they're humanity's. Socialist countries have greedy thieves, too.

Free markets are in disrepute these days, particularly by the people running Washington. For them, government is the solution and capitalism is the problem. If they have their way over the next decade, they won't cure what allegedly ails capitalism -- people will still steal and lie -- but they will impede everything that makes capitalism great. And that will be bad for everyone, even NPR.

(You can write to Jonah Goldberg in care of this newspaper or by e-mail at JonahsColumn@aol.com.)

(C) 2010 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

1 Responses »

  1. Ahh, white text on white background... nice blog. Try some css, maybe? Anyhoo, capitalism is a pyramid scheme and we all know it. You DO see the pyramid scheme symbol on the back of the USA one dollar bill, right? You DO see the servitude infestation in capitalism, right? And do you see the "pay up or lose your wellbeing" Chicago mob-like felony extortion widespread within capitalism? Do you see the "join or starve" felony extortion done to the 18 year olds... by this ugly competer's church called capitalism? See how forcing competer's religions onto 18 year olds... kills membership in the cooperator's church (Christianity/socialism)?? Do you understand that AmWay (American Way) (New World Order) got "the exclusive" (legal tender) on the TYPE of survival coupons (money) accepted in supply depots (stores) and leverages 18 year olds into the organization via that felony activity as well? (It puts AmWay-coupon slaving requirements called price tags... on all the survival goods). Do you understand how farmyard pyramids work... from your childhood?? Remember?? Upper 1/3 are "heads in the clouds" while the kids on the bottom ALWAYS GET HURT from the weight of the world's knees in their backs? Still with me? Do you see anything illegal, immoral, or just plain sick... in any of this pyramid scheme's activities?

    Us American Christian socialists are still patiently awaiting the natural fall of the pyramid-o-servitude, or the busting of the free marketeers felony... by the USA Dept of Justice. Us Christians are VERY CLOSE to issuing a cease and desist order until the servitude and inequality goes away... which means it turns into a commune. Commune is a word we LOVE when used in the word "community"... but its one the caps HATE when used in the term "commune-ism". Go fig. PROGRAMMED!!

    Do a Google IMAGE SEARCH for 'pyramid of capitalist' to see a full color picture made way back in 1911, when capitalism was first discovered to be a con/sham instigated by the Free Masons/Illuminati. Folks sure bought into the thing... hook, line, and sinker just the same. The caps didn't even check if a string was attached! Now THAT'S easy fishing, eh?

    Time to level the felony pyramid scheme called capitalism. Abolish economies and ownershipism worldwide, and hurry. Economies just cause rat-racing, and rat-racing causes felony pyramiding. BUST IT, America! Look to the USA military supply/survival system... (and the USA public library system) for socialism and morals done right. Equal, owner-less, money-less, bill-less, timecard-less, and concerned with growth of value-criteria OTHER THAN money-value. Quit doing monetary discrimination immediately, and make it illegal. There are MANY measurement criteria of "value"... not just dollars. Try morals, efficiency, discrimination-levels, repairability, etc etc. Economies are cancerous tumors, and to cheer for their growth... is just insane. Profiting causes inflation, so if caps LIKE inflation, and if they LIKE a terrible time in afterlife when they meet the planet's ORIGINAL OWNER before caps tried to squat it all with ownershipism, then keep it up with the felony pyramiding. I dare you. While us Christians are finally bulldozing that pyramid scheme back to level, lets make servitude and "join or starve" (get a job or die) illegal in the USA, and lets level the architecture seen in USA courtrooms, too. Right now, USA courtrooms are church simulators or "fear chambers", by special design. Sick.

    Isn't that back-of-the-dollar pyramid... a Columbian freemason symbol? And WHERE is the USA gov located? District of Columbia? (Not even part of the USA!) How much more blatant can ya get? The "Fed" runs a pyramid scheme called the free marketeers. If you're using the "federal reserve note" certificates, or using no-other-living-thing-on-the-planet entitles of ownership, you're bought into a servitude/slavery con/sham... called capitalism. Pyramiding 101. Jonah, when are you going to come over to the truth-side?

    Larry "Wingnut" Wendlandt
    MaStars - Mothers Against Stuff That Ain't Right
    (anti-capitalism-ists)
    Bessemer MI USA