There’s an old saying: “Everyone’s a capitalist on the way up and a socialist on the way down.” People want it all—to reap the benefits of free markets, but be protected against any downside. Capitalism won’t abide. And that’s a good thing. It’s a system of inherent checks and balances, which can be swift and brutal during the pruning process. In rough times, we seem willing to sacrifice free markets’ benefits for perceived security from this process. Still, if free markets were restricted, what would happen to those checks? Subprime problems (or Bernie Madoff’s) were not revealed by regulators, but by markets. Note, politicians are human, too.
Capitalism and free markets are not ever-stable. They work precisely because they compel folks to take risks and seek to create excess value out of existing capital, in whatever form that might be. They’re examples of constant change and innovation. Change isn’t always comfortable—and much of it will fail—but when it moves society in a more efficient direction, society certainly becomes more profitable.
During crises, the balance always tilts toward government and away from capitalism. This doesn’t mean capitalism is done. But such things are always said in times like these. Government “solutions” can only carry the economy so far—it’s up to capitalism to drive real, sustained growth. That is, it’s up to the people who make an economy, not its turgid overseers.
From Carpe Diem