My 86-year-old Dad recently came for a visit and I immediately put him to work!
“Feel like writing a post for my blog?” I asked him. “Sure,” he replied, “What’s a blog?” Once I explained what a blog was, and that this blog’s theme is business, he was off to the races.
It was interesting to me to read what my Dad chose to write about and I proudly present it for your reading pleasure! I encourage you to leave a response and let my Dad know what you think of his “blogging debut!”
The Corruption of Free Enterprise And Capitalism by Paul Lester
I am not an economist. I took the course in college and hated it. It is not called “the dismal science” for nothing. But I learned enough of the fundamentals to know that many definitions have been corrupted by scoundrels to suit selfish ambitions.
Take, for example, the expression “free enterprise.” “Free enterprise” used to describe the flow of wealth and goods from party to party without interference from any outside authority. It seems a simple idea but in practice it soon becomes chaotic as the multiple influences of “everyman-for- himself” gives the largest share of wealth to the brightest and, frequently, to the most unscrupulous, who then arrange the markets so that they can manipulate them to their advantage. The concept of “free enterprise” is thus lost. One can hear the primal screams of protest from these people when government authority moves to regulate their behavior. I posit that the concept of free enterprise is an ideal, the full attainment of which is impractical and unattainable.
The expression “capitalism” is another corruption of the original concept. Capital is simply the means of production of goods. It is the hardware used to create wealth by changing raw materials into usable products. It is buildings, machines, mines, land, and cash money.
What capital was not…was labor. All the capital in the world would be useless without labor. These two concepts are natural partners and natural enemies.
“Capitalism” as an expression has come to mean private ownership of capital as opposed to public ownership. It is not a social system. And this is where the political friction begins. Now we must decide who owns the capital. If it’s owned by private institutions, it’s called “capitalism”; if it’s owned by the government (read: the public), it’s called “socialism.”
Consider the government bail out of General Motors: Until the funds were repaid, General Motors was capital that belonged to the American public. However, once the funds were repaid, General Motors became privately-held capital once again. Capitalism or Socialism?
The so-called masters of the universe want to assemble all the profit-making capital into private hands and leave the unprofitable capital to the public. Illustrative of unprofitable (public) capital investment: Airports, passenger rail, the postal service, the interstate highway system, the FAA Airway control system; each a prime example of capital provided by the public from tax sources paid for by all and used by all.
We have only one expression for public ownership of capital and that, unfortunately, is socialism. It’s time for a new paradigm. At the very least, we need a new term which describes the bastardized system we have without scaring the hell out of the social conservatives who imagine themselves to be owners of everything they can get their sticky fingers on.