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June 26, 2017


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I don't know. As a recovering victim of a market fundamentalist economics program, I think that the greatest damage to the image of capitalism has been inflicted by blind ideologues who try and insist, in contradiction of the experiences of most people, that some sort of paleo-capitalism is superior to normal, human-style mixed economies.

It's a neat story, and it sells a lot of books (Just ask Professor Friedman's publishers.), but that dog, as they say, don't hunt.

In other words, the market fundamentalists are no better, and no more right, than Marxists. Extremism is funny that way.

Thanks, Mort, for a provocative post, even though i'm a bit worried that Coca-Cola will be on your case!

Like Jonas, I am unwilling to say that capitalism gets the credit for all the good things that have happened in last two centuries. For one thing, when you break out individual country data, the connection between development indicators and GDP per cap is often non existent, for the simple reason that literacy and public health programs may be funded not out of profits.

Good governance is critical, and bad government a hindrance. Quality varies so greatly across countries and time. The beautiful thing about capitalism is the market enforced accountability in the right circumstances! We should celebrate that! At the same time capitalism is not accountable when the prices are incorrect, as is the case with the environmental damage. No amount of misinterpreting Coase will fix that problem.... I like the approach that capitalism offers us the best shot at freedom to live creative lives of meaning, along with a healthy safety net that we all contribute to. More later....

"Why, then, are young people so anti-capitalist?"

Many young people are anti-capitalism because they don't believe they have any real choices or control over their lives.

Today, our children are forced to compete more and more for fewer and fewer opportunities. In the meantime, just to compete, many of them take on an enormous student debt load that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy should they be unable to find a well-paying job, which is not an unlikely eventuality. Of course, those who cannot otherwise fund their education and do not take on the debt cannot compete and likely will become economic losers who struggle from paycheck to paycheck throughout their lives.

The situation reminds of the lyrics of an old Clash song:

Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go, there will be trouble
And if I stay it will be double

If they go (by leaving the competition), there will be trouble. If they stay, it could be substantially worse, especially if they fail to find a job/career and essentially become indentured servants to the financial industry. Capitalism as a theory claims to be about freedom, but they see capitalism in practice as the opposite.

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