Capitalism has not lost its way—our culture has.

The scavengers had been let out of the zoo and the feeding frenzy on the wounded and tired golden goose called capitalism started long ago.  Let’s remember that capitalism is nothing more than wealth and wealth production remaining in private hands.  All other alternatives would rely on the heavy hand of government.  Our free market economy with all its imperfections has made us the richest and most productive nation in the world.  While we have had scandals, economic uncertainty, recessions and depressions, our nation has always shown the resilience to correct course and evolve. You can not have freedom without having the freedom to choose – or in other words, free markets.

This is not to say there is no strong role for government enforcement. Weak scrutiny and enforcement of the millions of regulations already on the books contributed to the mortgage crisis and the Madoff investment scandal to name a few. However, the regulation pendulum over-corrected with equal harm for those impacted by unemployment or underemployment with a lasting static economy.

Let’s take a pause and not throw the baby out with the wash.  As my wife, a Polish immigrant who has lived under communism and a socialist economy, often tells me, “Socialism looks great in a text book” but in real life she couldn’t wait to turn the page on that chapter of her life.

I contend that for the most part, Americans have been blinded by success.  We are not a well-traveled people, our history is being replaced by sound bites and stories that merge fact and fiction.  Many of our elected officials are politicians, not leaders, and are quite content to throw the nation over a cliff if it would get them reelected.  If you have no frame of reference other than what you have experienced in America, the grass can look greener everywhere else.

I have traveled to virtually every corner of the globe.  While I appreciate the differences each nation contributes to the planet, there is no question that America is blessed.  Our economy has offered the average person more for less, whether it is the cost of gasoline, food, clothing or automobiles.  You cannot help the poor by attacking the rich.  Ask yourself the question “How many people do poor people hire?”  The entitlement culture has reached a crescendo over recent years. Success is not an entitlement.  The possibility of failure is.  It is what people do when faced with adversity that make up the character of a nation.  We are being severely tested by a chorus of calls from many quarters for a free lunch from the business community and citizens alike.  Benjamin Franklin said, “When people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the Republic.”

During the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt inspired the nation to look forward, not backward.  Today many politicians are practicing the religion of blame.

Our responsibility to each other is to persevere on a path forward, whose foundation was laid by generations before us and that has proven prosperous with all its imperfections, when compared to alternatives.  For every action, there is a reaction.  Maybe the practice of victimology by some will kill political apathy by others who are best equipped to participate in governance.  This may be the best thing to result from all of the finger pointing in Washington and around the country.  Business people and other accomplished citizens have typically loathed public service given the paparazzi-like scrutiny.  But when given a choice between scrutiny or oppression, I believe the desire to facilitate a changing of the guard within government bureaucracy might well prevail.

 

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