Defending capitalism

For the American experiment to work, you have to buy in

In today’s climate of class envy – perpetrated, oddly enough, by some very well-to-do Democrats in Washington – the often contrived outrage can be wildly and inexplicably selective.

For instance, a CEO’s salary is fair game for criticism, but an athlete’s or entertainer’s take is never mentioned by the self-righteous politicos.

That may be for several reasons.

One may be that Democrats in Washington, particularly in the White House, love their favored status among left-leaning celebrities. Such luminaries comprise the “cool kids” in American culture, and it’s fun and affirming to hang out with them.

A second reason may be that, for some baffling reason, liberals appreciate the beauty of competition and the wisdom of rewarding excellence in sports and performing arts – and the reality that there are inevitably winners and losers – but not in the rest of life. That may be a wholly undiscovered form of myopia.

A third reason may be a sheer, cynical political calculation: Democrats won’t get popular support for themselves, or be able to stoke useful distemper in the masses, by attacking voters’ favorite movie stars, talking heads and athletes. So they just go after the captains of industry.

That’s not a healthy situation for a self-governed nation that depends entirely on freedom and free markets. Folks necessarily must buy into what capitalism is selling in order for the American experiment to work.

Increasingly, they’re not, especially the young. They’ve grown up outside the menacing shadow of communism – the same shadow now falling over Ukraine. So to many of them, socialism and communism are just increasingly attractive lifestyle choices.

Those choices can sound pretty good when the “mainstream” media only criticize – and don’t exalt or even explain – the capitalistic system. Mostly, the national media: 1) point out capitalism’s warts and 2) compare those warts not to other systems of government and commerce, but to an ideal no other system can even approach.

All you have to do to compare and contrast capitalism and communism is to view satellite photos of the Korean peninsula at night. The contrast between the dark-as-night communist North and the blazingly lit-up capitalist South is – well, like night and day.

Yet in the West, capitalism is increasingly out of fashion – though it’s delicious how the anti-capitalist Occupy movement used smart phones and other fruits of capitalism to attack it.

Who’s going to defend capitalism while we’re all so busy enjoying its products and taking it all for granted?

The answer is, next to no one.

Perhaps the best thing for the commanders of capitalism to do – if they want to, oh, you know, save capitalism – is to stop needing to be defended.

That’s going to be a tall order. Especially when you read and hear, for instance, that a former chief operating officer at Yahoo recently left with a $58 million golden parachute after just 15 months’ employment.

That’s a tough pill to swallow for us working stiffs, to be sure. And it just looks awful.

But as the Washington Post noted, most of ousted Yahoo COO Henrique de Castro’s parachute was woven with equity – and, according to the company, “the stock price appreciated nearly 160 percent between the date of his offer letter and the date of his termination.”

You can judge for yourself whether that’s right or wrong. The bottom line is, thanks to the “mainstream” media and their class envy promoters in Washington, more attention will continue to be paid to capitalism’s excesses than its successes. And industry leaders won’t ever get the praise and glory that athletes and entertainers get; nor will the demagogues cut them any slack.

Given that double standard and scrutiny, our private-sector leaders need to act with honor and make the case for capitalism – for free markets, limited government, property rights, merit pay and all the other instruments of freedom that made this the most powerful nation and economy in history.

It seems clear no one else will do it for them.

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