Thursday, August 21, 2008

Swimming Against the Stream of Material Constellations

Bernard Rapoport, a liberal Texas millionaire, the child of immigrants and one of the more renowned American philanthropists, recently took out a full-page, hard-copy ad in the Texas Observer in order to criticize the modern economic ruling class that misnames itself "capitalist." After quoting Max Weber's famous observation about the potential of capitalism to run roughshod over democracy, Rapoport fires his broadside:
[CEOs who never built a business from scratch, but who are still receiving hundreds of millions in benefits] are not capitalists. They think they are, but they're not. Capitalism is essentially predicated on an individual's coming up with an idea that is going to benefit society, and as a result of utilizing his or her talent, producing a good end. Capitalism involves the investment of capital. It involves risk ....

You would think it would be enough simply to recite the extravagant excesses represented by the salaries of today's business leaders, and reform would follow. Sadly, that is not the case. The heinous mistreatment of something as beautiful as capitalism should not be tolerated. Capitalism is the greatest economic system ever conceived because it comports with the greed instinct. But greed, like any other unsavory potential, must be guarded against. It requires a constant check.
It is really too bad we don't have more "capitalists with conscience" who though hardened by the reality of human vice, value their responsibilities to society as much as they do their own self-interests.

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