(Washington Post) Steven Pearlstein—Can we save American capitalism?

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A dozen Labor Days — and three presidential elections — ago, the world was in the thrall of American-style capitalism. Not only had it vanquished communism, but it was widening its lead over Japan Inc. and European-style socialism.

Today, that economic hegemony seems a distant memory. We have watched the bursting of two giant financial bubbles, wiping out the paper wealth many of us thought we had in our homes and retirement accounts. We have suffered through two long recessions and a lost decade of income growth for the average family. We continue to rack up large trade and budget deficits. Virtually all of the country’s economic growth and productivity gains have been captured by the top 10 percent of households, while moving up the economic ladder has become more difficult. And other countries are beginning to turn to China, Germany, Sweden and even Israel for lessons in how to organize their capitalist economies.

It’s no wonder, then, that large numbers of Americans have begun to question the superiority of our brand of free-market capitalism. This disillusionment is reflected not only in public opinion polls but on the shelves of American bookstores, where the subject has attracted many of the best economists in the country. Retooling American capitalism has become something of an national — and even international — obsession.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

6 Comments
Posted September 5, 2012 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Creedal Episcopalian wrote:

“our brand of free-market capitalism” has come to resemble fascism more than anything else. We should not expect it to work like free markets. We don’t need to save American Capitalism, we need to reimplement it.

September 5, 6:49 am | [comment link]
2. yohanelejos wrote:

I’ll bite - so in what way is it like fascism?

September 5, 9:39 am | [comment link]
3. Yebonoma wrote:

I think my head is going to explode is I hear another one of these idiot progressives talk about the loss of ethics and how only the beneficent hand of government can save us.  It’s the loss of publicly acknowledged Christian values that have loosed the depraved nature of man upon capitalism.  We know what the fix is; we just can’t bring ourselves to submit to Christ, put Him first, and have him guide our lives, including our capitalist system.  Oh wait, Chick-Fil-A’s CEO does and look how the intelligentsia treat him.

September 5, 9:41 am | [comment link]
4. Cennydd13 wrote:

The “intelligentsia?”  Woul;d someone please explain to me just exactly what’s so “intelligent” about them?  And as far as I’m concerned, they’ve all got their heads (and their minds) in a fog.

September 5, 10:44 am | [comment link]
5. Creedal Episcopalian wrote:

Communism: government ownership and control of the finance and the means of production.
Fascism: private ownership, but forced cooperation with the government, which controls finances and the means of production. Not a lot of difference. Bailouts of wall street cronies and industries to protect union labor (GM), not to mention attempts to control energy and technological development ( closing of offshore and onshore drilling, Solyndra) is classic fascism. The blatant antisemitism of our foreign policy is just a bonus.

September 5, 6:35 pm | [comment link]
6. MichaelA wrote:

Here are some wry comments on all the above, in the form of that great medium of education, political cow jokes:

FEUDALISM: You have two cows. Your lord takes some of the milk.

PURE SOCIALISM: You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else’s cows. You have to take care of all the cows. The government gives you a glass of milk.

BUREAUCRATIC SOCIALISM: Your cows are cared for by former chicken farmers. You take care of chickens the government took from the chicken farmers.  The government gives you as much milk and eggs as the regulations say you need.

FASCISM: You have two cows. The government takes both, hires you to take care of them, and sells you the milk.

PURE COMMUNISM: You share two cows with your neighbors. You and your neighbors bicker about who has the most “ability” and who has the most “need”.  Meanwhile, no one works, no one gets any milk, and the cows drop dead of starvation.

RUSSIAN COMMUNISM: You have two cows. You have to take care of them, but the government takes all the milk.  You steal back as much milk as you can and sell it on the black market.

CAMBODIAN COMMUNISM: You have two cows. The government takes both and shoots you.

BRITISH DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. You feed them sheeps’ brains and they go mad. The government doesn’t do anything.

AMERICAN DEMOCRACY: The government promises to give you two cows if you vote for it. After the election, the president is impeached for speculating in cow futures. The press dubs the affair “Cowgate”.

SINGAPOREAN DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. The government fines you for keeping two unlicensed farm animals in an apartment.

LIBERTARIANISM: You have two cows. One has actually read the constitution, believes in it, and has some really good ideas about government. The cow runs for office, and while most people agree that the cow is the best candidate, nobody except the other cow votes for her because they think it would be “throwing their vote away.”

CAPITALISM: You don’t have any cows. The bank will not lend you money to buy cows, because you don’t have any cows to put up as collateral.

ENRONISM: You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with the associated general offer so you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island company secretly owned by the majority shareholder, who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report states that the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more.

FRENCH CORPORATIONISM: You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows. You go to lunch. Life is good.

JAPANESE CORPORATIONISM: You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. They learn to travel on unbelievably crowded trains. Most are at the top of their class at cow school.

HINDU CORPORATIONISM:  You have two cows.  You worship both of them.

September 6, 1:56 am | [comment link]
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