Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: July 2011


I come to bury Caesar, not praise him

Conor Friedersdorf takes a look at an essay in Esquire that is simply astounding in its delusional aspects.  It is by Stephen Marche who seems to hav come untethered from reality.  The essay’s base question is:

"Before the policy choices have to be weighed and the hard decisions have to be made, can we just take a month or two to contemplate him the way we might contemplate a painting by Vermeer or a guitar lick by the early-seventies Rolling Stones or a Peyton Manning pass or any other astounding, ecstatic human achievement?" he writes. "Because twenty years from now, we’re going to look back on this time as a glorious idyll in American politics, with a confident, intelligent, fascinating president riding the surge of his prodigious talents from triumph to triumph."

“Glorious idyll in American politics”?  Where on earth has this man been for the past 3 years?  If this is glorious wouldn’t you hate to see terrible?

And correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve seen very little to indicate this president was the least bit fascinating or confident.  And while he may be intelligent, he’s certainly not led during his presidency.  In fact, if anything he’s been led.  And led badly. 

Friedersdorf correctly points out that Obama isn’t the first president to be so unabashedly, obsequiously and shamelessly worshiped, nor is that only a trait of the left.  But you have to wonder at what level Marche must set his own internal bar to find himself able to write that paragraph without upchucking on his keyboard.

Luckily we find out fairly quickly where he sets the bar:

"The turning point came that glorious week in the spring when, in the space of a few days, he released his long-form birth certificate, humiliated Donald Trump at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and assassinated Osama bin Laden," Marche writes. "The effortlessness of that political triptych — three linked masterpieces demonstrating his total command over intellectual argument, low comedy, and the spectacle of political violence — was so overwhelmingly impressive that it made political geniuses of the recent past like Reagan and Clinton seem ham-fisted."

Good lord … those are “triumphs”?  A “turning point”.  Highlights of his presidency?   He released a paper, ordered a monster assassinated (and had no real choice to do otherwise) and humiliated a political opponent who is roundly recognized by all as a dufus.

Wow.  Bow down, all ye mere mortals.

Friedersdorf:

This is how little we now expect of our leaders. A man showed his birth certificate to scattered kooks, and the release of that bureaucratic form is deemed "a masterpiece." As is humiliating Donald Trump — a man who is perhaps the easiest to mock of all the reality TV stars!

Exactly.  So how does someone find those events so compelling and enthralling that he writes an essay extolling them?  Well I’m as clueless as you are on that front.   But to be honest, when it comes to this president and his sycophants, nothing much surprises me any more (see Nobel Peace Prize).  Well, almost nothing:

"In 2011, it is possible to be a levelheaded, warmhearted, cold-blooded killer who can crack a joke and write a book for his daughters. It is possible to be many things at once. And even more miraculous, it is possible for that man to be the president of the United States. Barack Obama is developing into what Hegel called a ‘world-historical soul,’ an embodiment of the spirit of the times. He is what we hope we can be."

You have to check numerous times while reading dreck like this to be sure that you haven’t really linked to the Onion.  You keep peeking at different parts of the page hoping you finally spot that which will let you know this is a joke piece.  But you never find it.

Is “a levelheaded, warmhearted, cold-blooded killer who can crack a joke and write a book for his daughters” really the “embodiment of the spirit of the times” and what “we hope we can be”?  Really?  Or does it sound like a character from a Brad Thor novel?

Friedersdorf does a credible job of destroying Marche’s premise with facts.  A terrible thing in the fantasy world Marche has constructed.  Friedersdorf makes it clear that Obama is just another of many ordinary politicians that have come to power and we shouldn’t glorify him (or them).  He ends his fisking with:

This is no time to enjoy Obama, as the Esquire writer asserts, or to treat him deferentially, as if he has earned our trust.

In all administrations, Congress is a necessary check, as is the Fourth Estate, as are the people. Our current Congress is failing spectacularly. It is filled with Republicans who’ve no idea how to govern and Democrats whose civil liberties bona fides evaporated as soon as their party came into power.

Thus a greater burden is imposed on the media and the people. To cast Obama as the living embodiment of the zeitgeist is as absurd as imagining him to be a shadow outsider who hates America. He is a normal politician, one whose behavior in office often times conflicts with the ideals that put him there. What we ought to do, insofar as it’s possible, is be skeptical, vigilant and demand better.

Although Friedersdorf might disagree with me, I contend that the media too is “failing spectacularly” – at least the establishment media.  And the Esquire piece is simply the visible tip of a very large media iceberg that first came to the public’s attention during the 2008 presidential election when many in the media gave up all pretense of objectivity or being unbiased.   It was particularly shameful, and for the most part, hasn’t changed. It is one of the reasons someone like Marche feels comfortable penning this absurdly silly essay.  What was left of the media’s credibility went the way of the Dodo after that performance and they haven’t yet regained it.

That’s left it up to the people as the final check.  The people, who are now routinely attacked and dissed by both politicians and the elite media.  The one “check” on this runaway freight train of government power is the most powerless and confused.  If one want’s a reason for the 3 past wave elections we’ve had, the confusion and dissatisfaction of the electorate is the answer.   And that hasn’t changed a bit, despite Marche’s paean to his political god.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Why aren’t we seeing a jobs recovery? Maybe it’s ObamaCare’s fault

So you’re wondering why the “recovery” stalled?  Well we all know that correlation is not causation, but this sure looks suspicious doesn’t it?

 

Heritage-Chart

 

So looking at the chart, we see job growth starting to pick up at an average of 67,000 a month.  Not earth shattering, but much better than the average (ten times less) after the passage of ObamaCare.

Why, people wonder, would something like that happen with the passage of a bill that is supposed to improve health care and make it cheaper to boot?  Wouldn’t that encourage people to hire and expand.

Well … no.  Because we had to pass the bill to find out what was in the bill.  And what we’ve found out is none to pleasing.

As Tina Korb points out at Hot Air:

As the report states, correlation cannot prove causation — but the change in course is statistically measurable and testing reveals a structural break between April and May of 2010. Moreover, small-business owners have said Obamacare is a deterrent to hiring. Take Scott Womack, the owner of 12 IHOP restaurants in Indiana and Ohio, as just one example. Before Obamacare became law, he had development plans in Ohio. Now, he’s worried he won’t be able to carry out his original plans unless Obamacare is repealed. Those restaurants he planned to open would provide jobs not only for his future employees, but also for everyone involved in the construction of the restaurant buildings themselves.

But … and you knew there was one, this threw a wrench into everyone’s works.  Why?  The Heritage Foundation points out 3 reasons businesses are discouraged from doing so by the law:

  • Businesses with fewer than 50 workers have a strong incentive to maintain this size, which allows them to avoid the mandate to provide government-approved health coverage or face a penalty;
  • Businesses with more than 50 workers will see their costs for health coverage rise—they must purchase more expensive government-approved insurance or pay a penalty; and
  • Employers face considerable uncertainty about what constitutes qualifying health coverage and what it will cost. They also do not know what the health care market or their health care costs will look like in four years. This makes planning for the future difficult.

Korb provides the link between what that law is doing and the current debt and deficit talks going on in Congress:

The Heritage report recommends repeal — and comes as a welcome reminder that the health care law can’t be ignored as the president and Congress attempt to address the debt and deficit or as the nation attempts to right the still-struggling economy. Nor can it be ignored in the upcoming presidential election. Likely U.S. voters have said jobs and the economy are their No. 1 issue. That means the repeal of Obamacare should be a top priority, too.

Couldn’t agree more.  I’ve seen any number of people saying “yeah, repeal it” but then asking “what are you going to replace it with”?

Uh, personal responsibility?  How about we try that for a change?   It is each citizen’s job to care for themselves and do (and pay for) those things necessary to see that they aren’t a burden on the rest of the citizenry.

What a concept, huh?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Bill Gates lays out ground truth on energy subsidies

I don’t think I have to remind regular readers here that I’m not a fan of subsidies – any kind of subsidies.  That being said, and the fact that despite my desires, we seem bound and determined – or at least our politicians are – to subsidize “green energy”.

Gates lays it out for our big government greenies in a way that at least would send subsidies to the right place vs. how they’re being planned as we speak.

There’s the “right way” (again disclaimer in place) and, as Gates puts it, the cute way (aka the “wrong way”):

If you’re going for cuteness, the stuff in the home is the place to go. It’s really kind of cool to have solar panels on your roof. But if you’re really interested in the energy problem, it’s those big things in the desert….despite often-heard claims to the contrary, ethanol has nothing to do with reducing CO2; it’s just a form of farm subsidy. If you’re using first-class land for biofuels, then you’re competing with the growing of food. And so you’re actually spiking food prices by moving energy production into agriculture. For rich people, this is OK. For poor people, this is a real problem, because their food budget is an extremely high percentage of their income. As we’re pushing these things, poor people are driven from having adequate food to not having adequate food…

You could have the government throw money at the most politically favored guy in the country to go build a battery factory. And there are billions of dollars that have been assigned to that waste…. I think people deeply underestimate what a huge problem this day-night issue is if you’re trying to design an energy system involving solar technology that’s more than just a hobby. You know, the sun shines during the day, and people turn their air conditioners on during the day, so you can catch some of that peaking load, particularly if you get enough subsidies. It’s cute, you know, it’s nice. But the economics are so, so far from making sense. And yet that’s where subsidies are going now. We’re putting 90 percent of the subsidies in deployment—this is true in Europe and the United States—not in R&D. And so unfortunately you get technologies that, no matter how much of them you buy, there’s no path to being economical.

So he’s right – it’s R&D where money should be going, not picking winners and losers all while disrupting markets and punishing poor people because government is economically ignorant of markets.

The unfortunate part about the Gates statement is it accepts subsidies as a good thing even if misdirected.

Apparently how he gained his billions was because government somehow subsidized it in some ways.  No markets.  No venture capitalists seeing a good idea, visualizing a market for it and funding the research necessary to cash in on it.  

Nope, gotta have subsidies and all the negative effects it brings to the markets I guess.

Anyway, he’s right about the meta-picture – if we want to get serious about “green energy” then R&D is where the game is now.   Not “deployment” as Gates calls it – the stuff is not ready for prime time.

Oh, and government?  Get out of the freakin’ way, will you?  The government is so scared that someone will make billions off of a good idea in a free market that they’ve invented this myth that the job is just too big for private markets.

Nonsense.

Get out of the way.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


That big yellow thing that hangs in the sky each day

It appears the warmist agenda is about to take another hit if this is being interpreted properly:

The chief of the world’s leading physics lab at CERN in Geneva has prohibited scientists from drawing conclusions from a major experiment. The CLOUD ("Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets") experiment examines the role that energetic particles from deep space play in cloud formation. CLOUD uses CERN’s proton synchrotron to examine nucleation.

CERN Director General Rolf-Dieter Heuer told Welt Online that the scientists should refrain from drawing conclusions from the latest experiment.

"I have asked the colleagues to present the results clearly, but not to interpret them," reports veteran science editor Nigel Calder on his blog. Why?

Because, Heuer says, "That would go immediately into the highly political arena of the climate change debate. One has to make clear that cosmic radiation is only one of many parameters."

Oh … “only one of many parameters”, eh?  You mean like that big yellow thing that hangs in the sky each day?  

Imagine that  – cosmic rays have a role in cloud formation and the sun is extraordinarily active in how many cosmic rays are able reach the atmosphere and carry out that function.  And  the effect?

The CLOUD experiment builds on earlier experiments by Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark, who demonstrated that cosmic rays provide a seed for clouds. Tiny changes in the earth’s cloud cover could account for variations in temperature of several degrees. The amount of Ultra Fine Condensation Nuclei (UFCN) material depends on the quantity of the background drizzle of rays, which varies depending on the strength of the sun’s magnetic field and the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field.

Emphasis mine.   Back to that big yellow thing – what role does it have?:

Since clouds often cover 30 percent of the earth’s surface, a moderate change in cloud cover clearly could explain the warming/cooling cycle.

Svensmark noted the gigantic “solar wind” that expands when the sun is active—and thus blocks many of the cosmic rays that would otherwise hit the earth’s atmosphere. When the sun weakens, the solar wind shrinks. Recently, the U.S. Solar Observatory reported a very long period of “quiet sun” and predicted 30 years of cooling.

Got it?  We’re in a solar minimum and the temp hasn’t risen in the 10 years since it has begun.  Go figure.

So where does this leave us given the CERN gag order?  What can you infer from that?  Nigel Calder does a good job of rounding them up:

Four quick inferences:

1) The results must be favourable for Svensmark or there would be no such anxiety about them.

2) CERN has joined a long line of lesser institutions obliged to remain politically correct about the man-made global warming hypothesis. It’s OK to enter “the highly political arena of the climate change debate” provided your results endorse man-made warming, but not if they support Svensmark’s heresy that the Sun alters the climate by influencing the cosmic ray influx and cloud formation.

3) The once illustrious CERN laboratory ceases to be a truly scientific institute when its Director General forbids its physicists and visiting experimenters to draw the obvious scientific conclusions from their results.

4) The resulting publication may be rather boring.

Indeed … boring only in the sense of reading dense scientific material.  Not boring in its impact.

The CERN experiment is supposed to be the big test of the Svensmark theory. It’s a tipoff, then, that CERN’s boss, Rolf-Dieter Heuer, has just told the German magazine Die Welt that he has forbidden his researchers to “interpret” the forthcoming test results. In other words, the CERN report will be a stark “just the facts” listing of the findings. Those findings must support Svensmark, or Heuer would never have issued such a stifling order on a major experiment.

Can’t wait to watch this one unfold.  But the gag order is very suspicious and certainly infers that the results don’t support the warmist theory … or should I say “assertion” now?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Don’t bother buying this book

Marvin Kalb and his daughter Deborah have written a book called “The Haunting Legacy: Vietnam and the American Presidency from Ford to Obama”.

I can give you one very good reason not to even bother buying or reading the book.  It comes from an email interview Kalb did with TIME’s Battleland:

Why did you write Haunting Legacy?

The Vietnam War was the only war the U.S. ever lost, and it left a deep scar on the American psyche. From then on, American presidents, whenever faced with the need to send troops to war, worried about getting trapped in another Vietnam, meaning another war without a clear mission, without an exit strategy, without Congressional support. Deborah and I wanted to explore this crucial dimension of recent American history. That’s the reason we wrote the book.

Bullsquat.  “Losing” a war usually means you were there to fight it and got beaten.  That’s not the case with Vietnam, although it is a very persistent myth.  If we lost anything it was the political war (and will), certainly not the war on the battlefield.

So someone who would make a statement like the first in that paragraph has zip for credibility with me.   Our last combat troops left South Vietnam in August of 1972.  Saigon fell in April of 1975.  Who is the “we” that lost the war?   I think we all know who that is and Kalb was right there with the bunch of ‘em painting a picture that wasn’t accurate and is still doing it.

Screw ‘em.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Another "green jobs" success story

And yes, I’m being snarky. The only folks that got anything green was the company that folded. The taxpayers, of course and as usual, got the shaft:

A Salinas car manufacturing company that was expected to build environmentally friendly electric cars and create new jobs folded before almost any vehicles could run off the assembly line.

The city of Salinas had invested more than half a million dollars in Green Vehicles, an electric car start-up company.

The “money trail”:

The start-up company set up shop in Salinas in the summer of 2009, after the city gave Ryan a $300,000 community development grant.

When the company still ran into financial trouble last year, the city of Salinas handed Ryan an additional $240,000. Green Vehicles also received $187,000 from the California Energy Commission.

So here we have government taking taxpayer money and picking "winners". Wonder how many police and fireman all that money would have paid? Wonder who the Salinas government is going to claim it has to lay off first when budget crunch time hits? Because we all know state and local governments in California are doing fine financially, don’t we?

Yet this sort of fiscal nonsense is rampant in government today.  They seem to think it is their job, at all levels, to intrude in areas they have no business intruding and pick winners according to an agenda with little understanding, apparently, as to what it actually takes to succeed in doing so.  You know, like there has to be a market, the firm has to be adequately financed (for more than a couple of months) and it has to have a long-term and viable business plan that actually passes a sanity check. 

Instead it seems, at least based on this story, that “just words” got the Salinas government in a real “hope and change” attitude:

Last year, Salinas city officials said they were excited about Green Vehicles moving from San Jose to Salinas because they wanted to turn Salinas into a hub for alternative energy production.

City leaders wooed Green Vehicles to jump-start the sputtering local company and turn Salinas into an "electric valley." Donohue and Weir both voiced their high hopes for Green Vehicles.

The start-up company promised city leaders that it would create 70 new jobs and pay $700,000 in taxes a year to Salinas.

Green Vehicles was supposed to be up and running by March 2010 inside their 80,000-square-foot space at Firestone Business Park off of Abbot Street.

Ryan had lofty goals, listing his company’s mission as: "To make the best clean commuter vehicles in the world; To manufacture with a radical sense of responsibility; To engage in deep transparency as an inspiration for new ways of doing business."

Green Vehicles designed two vehicles, the TRIAC 2.0 and the MOOSE, which it planned to manufacture.

On July 12, Ryan wrote a blog post announcing that his company was closing.

"The truth is that not realizing the vision for this company is a huge disappointment," Ryan wrote.

So they invited a company that was obviously already underfunded with promises of money and a great mission statement? What could possibly go wrong with that?

Salinas Economic Development Director Jeff Weir said Green Vehicles flopped because of a lack of investors.

Uh, so as Economic Development Director for the city, Mr. Weir didn’t know that before they made the big offer and threw all the taxpayer money at the company?  No indication of it when the company was in San Jose?

Salinas Mayor Dennis Donohue said he was "surprised and disappointed" by the news. City officials were equally irked that Ryan notified them through an email that his company had crashed and burned.

Oh, well yeah, that’s the important part to be “irked” about – not the half mil of taxpayer money they threw down a rat-hole in an iffy company that officials obviously didn’t check out.

This is why governments should be held to doing only those functions they’re best suited to do.  If I were a Salinas resident, I’d be petitioning for recall elections for the idiots who threw taxpayer money away in a time of fiscal difficulty.  When the mayor tells the people of that city that he’s going to have to lay off cops and fire fighters first, my reaction would be, “oh, no – we think the mayor and the Econ Dev Director should be laid off first since they just cost taxpayers a half mil in a stupidity tax”.

Yes, I know, radical idea – accountability.

Oh … and by the way, who names a car the “Moose”?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Taxation: why all taxes should have sunset provisions

Or, as I’d bet is very common and taxpayers just don’t know it, you’ll have what has happened in Alabama:

The last of the more than 60,000 Confederate veterans who came home to Alabama after the Civil War died generations ago, yet residents are still paying a tax that supported the neediest among them.

Despite fire-and-brimstone opposition to taxes among many in a state that still has "Heart of Dixie" on its license plates, officials never stopped collecting a property tax that once funded the Alabama Confederate Soldiers’ Home, which closed 72 years ago. The tax now pays for Confederate Memorial Park, which sits on the same 102-acre tract where elderly veterans used to stroll.

The tax once brought in millions for Confederate pensions, but lawmakers sliced up the levy and sent money elsewhere as the men and their wives died. No one has seriously challenged the continued use of the money for a memorial to the "Lost Cause," in part because few realize it exists; one long-serving black legislator who thought the tax had been done away with said he wants to eliminate state funding for the park.

These days, 150 years after the Civil War started, officials say the old tax typically brings in more than $400,000 annually for the park, where Confederate flags flapped on a recent steamy afternoon. That’s not much compared to Alabama’s total operating budget of $1.8 billion, but it’s sufficient to give the park plenty of money to operate and even enough for investments, all at a time when other historic sites are struggling just to keep the grass cut for lack of state funding.

"It’s a beautifully maintained park. It’s one of the best because of the funding source," said Clara Nobles of the Alabama Historical Commission, which oversees Confederate Memorial Park.

Well yeah, it gets almost a half a million a year in tax money that should have ended early in the 20th century.   Of course it is “beautifully maintained” and has sufficient money left over for “investments”.  That’s in lieu of taxpayers investing their money for their priorities.

And I’d be willing to bet this isn’t atypical for many taxes on the books today.  They are started for one thing and as that purpose winds down or ends, the money is still collected and used for other things.   Essentially, when government gets its hooks into your purse for a certain amount, they’re loathe to give that up.  So:

The Constitution allowed a state property tax of up to 6.5 mills, which now amounts to $39 annually on a home worth $100,000. Of that tax, 3 mills went to schools; 2.5 mills went to the operating budget; and 1 mill went to pensions for Confederate veterans and widows.

The state used the pension tax to fund the veterans home once it assumed control of the operation in 1903. The last Confederate veteran living at the home died in 1934, and its hospital was converted into apartments for widows. It closed in 1939, and the five women who lived there were moved to Montgomery.

Legislators whittled away at the Confederate tax through the decades, and millions of dollars that once went to the home and pensions now go to fund veteran services, the state welfare agency and other needs. But the park still gets 1 percent of one mill, and its budget for this year came to $542,469, which includes money carried over from previous years plus certificates of deposit.

“State welfare agency and other needs” says it all, doesn’t it?  Instead of recognizing the need for the tax had ended and ending the tax, the state and its legislators continued to collect it for “other needs”.

Tax experts say they know of no other state that still collects a tax so directly connected to the Civil War, although some federal excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol first were enacted during the war to help fund the Union.

"Broadly speaking, almost all taxes have their start in a war of some sort," said Joseph J. Thorndike, director of a tax history project at Tax Analysts, a nonprofit organization that studies taxation.

And consequently, there is no thought to sunsetting it at the time and certainly none after the politicians get used to having the revenue stream.

Revenue is power – every politician knows that.   The only reason this is coming to light and being exposed is because a black politician has become aware of it and the Confederacy is a politically unpopular issue.   Otherwise, the hogs at the trough wouldn’t be saying a word.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


The Gang of Six is back

Gangs of anything are rarely good things.  And when it comes to the Senate’s Gang of Six, that caution is doubly true.  Today the Gang proposed a bipartisan deficit plan to which the president–eager to kick the deficit can down the road past the 2012 election–gave his qualified approval.  There is only this summary (PDF) available at the moment, and there is much to digest.

The good news is that there is at least some sanity in it.

  • Personal and corporate income taxes would be reduced to a top rate of 29%.
  • The Alternative Minimum Tax–which has turned into a horrific taxation burden–will be eliminated.
  • The CLASS Act provision of Obamacare would be repealed.

The bad news–and there’s always bad news with these guys–is that the budget reduction portion of it is notional.  As usual in Washington, it calls “cuts” what the rest of us would call “reductions in the rate of spending increases”.  In other words, spending isn’t actually reduced at any point, they just promise not to spend as much as they previously said they would. The main problem points include:

  • None of the plan’s “spending caps” apply to entitlement programs, only discretionary spending. So the 800-pound gorilla of the budget remains untouched.
  • Reform tax expenditures for health, charitable giving, homeownership, and retirement. These aren’t expenditures! They are allowing you to keep your money for IRAs, 401(k)s, Mortgage interest, etc.  So, that sounds…ominous. Especially since the plan assumes that these, and similar reforms will net an additional $1 trillion in revenue.
  • No reform at all of Medicare of Medicaid.
  • A politically-imposed requirement to use the Chained-CPI as an inflation measure, presumably to cut down on cost-of-living increases, as the Chained-CPI understates inflation even more than the current CPI does.
  • Requires the tax code to become more “progressive”, so you can expect serious increases in Capital Gains taxes.
  • No Social Security reform at all, unless there’s 60 votes for it in the Senate, i.e., sponsors for such reform prior to its submittal to the Senate for consideration. So, essentially, never.

There’s no information at all on how big or expensive government will be, say 10 years down the road. No information on how strict the spending caps will be, making me expect another Gramm-Rudmann deal: Good on paper, ineffective in practice.

Basically, this plan, so far as I can tell, contains some eye-candy on income taxes to draw in the supply-siders, with the actual deficit reduction portion sounding…sketchy. Or in the case of entitlements, by far the source of most federal spending, non-existent.

~

Dale
Twitter: @DaleFranks


Misunderstanding Capitalism

Deepak Chopra has, for some reason, come to be viewed as an intellectual by many.  For the most part I don’t get it.  

I’m reminded why when I read this Chopra statement on “The Mellow Jihadi” (disclaimer: The Mellow Jihadi does not agree with Chopra’s statement below):

Capitalism prevails as a system that once vied, supposedly, with Communism for world dominance, yet its deep flaws remain. Three come to mind. Capitalism discourages equal access to wealth, leading to enormous gaps between rich and poor. The free market lacks a conscience, giving rise to inequalities of education, health care, and job opportunities. Finally, capitalism if unchecked promotes corruption, both economic and political.

Capitalism is really given a bad rap here.   And it is mostly in word usage.  For instance “Capitalism discourages equal access to wealth”?

No.  It doesn’t.  What it requires is you earn your wealth, not have it handed to you.  I.e. it pretty much encourages hard work, sacrifice and innovation and rewards it with wealth if all goes well and people like what you do and want to buy it.   But the “deep flaw” here is you – the individual – actually have to initiate the action, do what is necessary to properly prepare yourself, work your butt off and hope you have done sufficient research and work to make all that pay off.  But it certainly doesn’t “discourage” anyone from earning wealth, it just makes no guarantee that all will share equally in wealth.  I see that as a feature, not a bug.  The enormous gaps between rich and poor can usually be traced back to enormous gaps in preparation, work ethic, and ability.  Btw, Mr. Chopra, in case you haven’t noticed, nature isn’t very good about “equality” either – when it comes to intelligence and ability.  Is that a “flaw” or reality?

Chopra goes on to say that “the free market lacks a conscience”.   Well that’s a straw man if ever I’ve seen one.  It’s a bit like saying a rock has no feelings.  A market operates without feelings, to include a conscience.  But that doesn’t mean that the society or culture in which it operates can’t do what it feels is necessary to ameliorate certain “inequalities” if it so desires.  That has zip to do with the market(s) other than they’re probably the fastest and best means to earn the wealth necessary to apply to the desired solutions.  It simply doesn’t follow logically that the functioning of markets somehow inherently means inequality of education, health care and job opportunities.  In fact history points to precisely the opposite being true.

Finally, Chopra, like many opponents of Capitalism, confuses the crony capitalism of today with actual Capitalism in its pure form.  Crony capitalism does indeed “promote corruption, both economic and political”, and we’re living through that today.  But Capitalism as a economic system doesn’t encourage either and, in fact, does its best to work around it via the market mechanisms that send the signals that encourage consumers to seek substitutes and/or alternatives when something doesn’t smell right.   But when government interferes, sets artificial bars to entry, writes legislation that favors large businesses that support powerful politicians, that’s not Capitalism.

The Mellow Jihadi quotes Winston Churchill with one of the better rebuttals:

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

Enough said.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO