Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Two Cheers for Capitalism

by Jeffrey Gedmin

Huffington Post

February 19, 2013

Since the 2008 financial crisis bashing banks, bankers and free enterprise has become de rigeur. A current exhibit at the British Museum tells "stories of mismanagement, speculative frenzy, fraud and failure" in Britain from 1700 to present day. The message is ubiquitous. The captains of finance and industry have betrayed us. Free enterprise is failing.

Long before the infamous "greed is good" Gordon Gekko from the 1987 film Wall Street, Hollywood had been churning out sinister corporate villains for decades. The idea of the greedy, exploitative capitalist-obsessing over money, bereft of empathy for his fellow human beings, became embedded in popular culture in the 19th Century. Think Dickens's Scrooge.

I think it's dangerous stuff, these caricatures. Capitalism is indeed in crisis today. We need a way forward. This requires that our gleeful bashers take a breath and back off. For this to happen, free marketeers need to step up.