Greed and Capitalism

While putting together my essay, I ran across a quote that summed up my thoughts and it came from a surprising source.  This was taken from an article by Cord Jefferson of The Root titled “Is the Tea Party the New Black Panther Party”  Please see quote below.


“In 1986, two decades after the founding of the Black Panther Party, Eldridge Cleaver turned away from his Leninist past and ran for the U.S. Senate on the Republican ticket in California.  After years spent exiled in Cuba, China and other communist regimes, Cleaver had developed a new outlook on politics and power famously declaring ‘Pig Power in America is infuriating. . .But pig power in the communist framework was awesome and unaccountable.’ ”


One of the many things I have gained from joining Red State is the importance of participating in my local GOP party, not just the tea party.  During my second local republican club meeting, we had a speaker from a local university talk about the economics of socialism and capitalism.  One of the questions asked by a local candidate running for office is how do you respond to the notion that capitalism creates greed.


My first thought upon hearing the question, went back to a local town hall meeting on the healthcare debate where people were demanding free health care.  In their world demanding something for free is a virtue, while wanting to keep what you have earned is a vice.  The phrase “greed is good” to describe how capitalism works has allowed the left to demonize capitalism as enabling greed to victimize our citizens.  Greed is not the fault of capitalism, it is the fault of man, and has been on this earth as long as we have.  If the goal of moving to socialism is to eliminate the negative impact of greed on society, than we will have only made the problem worse.


Capitalism has become associated with greed, because it enables those that want more, or work harder, or have incredible talent to be rewarded for those things in a free market system.  We all have the opportunity to become rich.  Capitalism rewards success.  In the free market, greed is not hidden.  It is out in the open as we the people compete to achieve our own piece of the American dream.  We also benefit from the hard work of others who bring us good ideas that make our lives more convenient and enjoyable.  Even more, we the people, through our purchasing power, get to decide what ideas and products we value.  We benefit by getting the best products, and the people making those products benefit by becoming rich and having the freedom to use their hard earned dollars as they please.


In a socialist society the government runs our businesses through direct ownership or burdensome regulations.  A socialist will tell you how reducing the overhead for marketing will generate savings for the people.  This might be a good time to discuss the ballooning salaries of government employees while workers at private firms are facing paycuts and layoffs.  When does government actively work to reduce overhead?  Benefits will be cut first, last and always.  One of my favorite things to ask a socialist is where do they get better customer service – at a local government office or at a for profit company?  Where do you feel more empowered? 


While it is unpleasant to contemplate our daily interactions in a socialist economy, what is more insidious will be less obvious.  Few will notice how powerful politicians will enrich their friends and cronies at the expense of the private citizen.  Recently we elected a new mayor for the city of Memphis.  For many it was the dawn of a new era of hope as the long-time and believed to be corrupt Mayor Herenton was finally gone.  (He is now running for Congress in the 9th district.)  Hope began to fade as one of our new mayor’s first accomplishments was to fire salaried library employees with years of experience and replace them with campaign workers.   While these employees had less experience their starting salary was equal to the fired workers.  No money was saved.  Imagine that happening at your nearest hospital?


The more power government has over the industries and products we use, the less we the people will know about how our tax dollars are spent.  One look at the stimulus package should drive people running and screaming from socialism.   There is very little accountability for the money spent.  Non-profit organizations that many have never heard of were given large amounts of money, but we have no way of knowing where that money, our money, is actually spent.


Acorn was awarded over $5 billion in the stimulus package (of course they had some issues since then so who knows where that money will go).   Mark Penn, a Hillary Clinton campaign pollster, was awarded 5 million in government contracts in the stimulus package to help him recoup debt incurred by the Clinton campaign.  The greed and corruption is hidden.  It is hidden under pages and pages of laws that few bother to read and even fewer understand, but it is still there.


Making government bigger won’t reduce government corruption.  Taking over industries won’t improve the quality of products or reduce their costs.  The government bureaucrats will use their authority to enrich their greedy friends and enact their own form of justice. 


Capitalism shines the light of day on greed, and socialism slips it out of sight.  That’s why these policies are voted on Christmas Eve or the dead of night, because that is the only way a free people can be harnessed into socialism.  The power, the money will go to the people with the right connections instead of the people with the good ideas, and the individual citizen will be poorer for it.