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Monday, January 9, 2012

America needs a few corporate raiders/capitalist pigs

Conservatives, led publicly by Newt Gingrich, are attacking Mitt Romney because of his stint as a corporate raider. They say that he bought out companies and flipped them to turn a profit. His attackers call it unethical and immoral. Romney calls is capitalism and job creation. 
Truth: it is ALL OF THE ABOVE. Granted, the jobs were created in Mexico and other countries more than in the United States. And some of what was done was probably unethical and/or immoral. But the fact of the matter is that it was capitalism. And that should be the end of the discussion.

Why? Capitalism is, at its heart, an amoral system. It exists only to find what works, what drives profit. It has no conscience, nor does it aspire to gain one. And in finding what works and what drives profit, it regulates itself.

For example - if the FDA were not in place and there were no regulations concerning the quality of fast food, imagine the following scenario:
Chain #1 makes everything as cheaply as possible, not worrying about quality or safety. Chain #2 makes sure their food quality is good and safe, banking on the consumer to pay a little more for better quality. Most people only have to get sick eating at Chain #1 once or twice before they are willing to pay the extra money for safer food. Chain #2 does well, and Chain #1 has to choose between going bust or increasing the quality of their food.

The only reason capitalism fails is that people insist on enlisting the government to inject morals and ethics into it. It starts with regulations that keep businesses from selling unsafe products - such as baby walkers with parts that are choking hazards or food that hasn't been washed or prepared properly. Then there are regulations that cover how businesses must set prices so that they can't drive their prices up to match increased cost or demand. And finally you end up with regulations preventing a toy from being sold in a meal with french fries, lest parents blindly buy their children fattening food in the fond hopes of acquiring a toy that will become garage sale fodder in a matter of weeks.

The reality is that capitalism is messy. The players are not always equal, and the field is not always level. People win fortunes and people lose fortunes. People rocket to success and people are doomed to failure. People get hurt. But because capitalism offers opportunity and rewards both those who work hard and those who work smart, those people who fail, lose fortunes and get hurt can rise from the ashes tomorrow and turn the whole world on its head.

The attacks on Romney's capitalist ventures (as loathe as I am to defend him on anything) are an attempt by Newt Gingrich and others to insert morals into an amoral system - but whether or not his actions were moral should never be in question if he was acting as a private citizen and a capitalist. Those waging the war against him are in dangerous territory, using liberal tactics in an attempt to play on emotions to win the hearts of conservatives. 

***FYI, if you want to criticize Romney and his association with Bain Capital when they acted outside the domain of pure capitalism and took a government bailout, then by all means, go ahead.

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