I have to tell you I am learning so much about Capitalism from Jerry Muller. I found out Adam Smith argued that factory work would encourage a human being to become stupid. This obviously is a paraphrase, but this comment by Smith in the Wealth of Nations became the foundation of Marx’s argument that Capitalism led to work alienation. The only problem with Marx’s point is he left off the most important part of Smith’s comment. Smith stated that the worker would become stupid unless management did something about it. In other words, how management treated the employee could save the employee from a natural evolvement into a mindless worker bee. Thus Smith’s argument for Capitalism recognizes the importance of intentional behavior rather than just letting the system do what it does.
As my wife and I were driving back from the beach we were discussing this idea. My point is this, any political or social system left to itself can lead to exploitation. Obviously vulture capitalists are a reality, but so are vulture socialists. Stalin is a classic example of the socialism gone wild, while a corporate raider is the capitalist example of vulturism. While I would disagree with Obama that the private sector is fine, I would also say that as long as people care for one another we should not give up.
Luigi Zingales tells us in his book, A Capitalism for the People, “I would gently suggest that you have no idea what it is like to live in a country where there is virtually no meritocracy and competition is considered a sin.” He wrote this as an argument for allowing big organizations to fail, and eliminating the cronyism of cozy relationships between our politicians and wealthy individuals. Zingales wants to rebuild America’s meritocracy. I would be all for this if this meritocracy was servant based. If it is elitist and self serving, then we can say like the Who, a rock band from the 60’s, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”
Nothing promotes growth as much as personal incentive. The Puritans believed in two calls of God. The first call of God was from a life of sin to Salvation. The second call was to a particular vocation. The Puritan then worked hard at this vocation, thus the Puritan work ethic became famous. Entitlement erodes that personal incentive, thus undermining the health of our system.
However, as I pursue this call, I must remember the admonition to remember the poor. There are those who have been knocked down by life. Those who have had the opportunity to be successful at what they do, they need to watch out for those lest fortunate. Those who are the most successful have a servant mentality. As I have said before, to those whom much is given, much is required.
And that is my thought for the day!