Our long, slow slide into statism is inevitable and irreversible. The best that the old-style mom&pop mainstreet entrepreneurial capitalists can hope for in today’s world is that they may be able to carve out a niche somewhere in the recesses of the behomoth state to practice their craft.
I hope we can. The rest of society should make room somewhere for the entrepreneurs. Those free-thinking innovations are an essential component of human welfare.
The labor movements and progressive governmental structures that began taking shape over a century ago have dulled the sharp edge of capitalist expansion forever. Upton Sinclair-style whistleblowing regulations of a century ago, assisted later by Rooseveltian New Deal, Johnsonian Great Society, Medicare, and the tangled web of governmental subsidies that have been contrived for just about everything–these statist programs have put the nails in the old freemarket capitalism that entrepreneurs, libertarians, and some conservatives still dream about. Let us hope that the wonks and bureacrats of the burgeoning socialist state will allow, or overlook, some commercial space–at least a few cubicles here and there, every block or so–somewhere! for the true capitalist innovators to do their thing. They should. The world needs true job creators, and governments are not it.
Most of mankind hath not the energy, the stoic motivation, nor the honed intuition to practice and maintain true capitalism. This is the problem.
When I say capitalism, I’m not speaking of this modern chimeric version, which is largely devoted to speculative traders who manipulate the corporatist money-machine yoyo back and forth to generate high-frequency profits. I’m talking about the capitalism of days gone by–the legendary enterprising spirit of our American ancestors, which was wrought, blacksmith-like, into existence by innovative captains–Eli Whitney, Cyrus McCormick, Robert Fulton, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Watson.
Those enterprising business leaders, and their heady days of capital expansion, are gone forever. They were the sparks and pistons of a great wealth engine that had been forged and built out of raw earth and oil, and iron and corn and wheat, of a virgin continent that has since been, for the most part, depleted. What the talking heads these days call the “low-hanging fruit.”
Oh, we do have our modern-day Sam Walton whizzes and Bill Gates generators. We still have Steve Jobs genii, Mark Zuckerberg wonderkinds and Howard Schultz phenoms. But even they, in their mature stages gravitate to philanthropy and foundation-style largesse. They make peace with the all-consuming tide of ubiquitous governmental meddlings. Warren Buffett, capitalist par excellence of the early-21st-century American business stage, wants to pay more taxes, bless his heart; and he wants to ask his fellow richlings to benificently follow his lead. Its too bad Ruppert Murdoch didn’t figure this out before he got mired down in electronic muck.
What contrarian economist Moses Von Mises identified, ninety years ago, as socialist destructionism has wrecked capitalism as we know it. Capitalism’s demise has been hastened geometrically, alas, during this last decade. The horrific destruction was inflicted when a so-called perfect storm blew in from the depths of human nature. Hockey-stick-graph greed of capitalist traders contrived unwittingly with governmental do-good fanniemae road-to-hell-paved-with-good-intentions progressive meddling. That led to the bubble meltdown that everybody bemoans and autopsifies so animatedly these days.
Those “capitalists” who were pushing the MBS and CDOs of the last great bull market blowdown were not cut from the same cloth as their imaginative progenitors. They are different animals altogether. We hope their high-freq speculative card-shark manipulations do not give capitalism a bad name forever.
Those of us who mourn the feisty capitalist thrusts of yesteryear are like the Jews of old, whose temple-tending righteous theocracy was beaten, under the iron rod of Roman hegemony, into a diasporic Talmud-toting evolution of its former self. Think about it–what were the ancient Romans known for? Their laws and their roads. What does that really spell? Government. Statism, in its earliest mutation. Its the inevitable tide of human history, now building, millenia later, into a tidal wave of brave new world state-sanctioned determinism. To catch a glimpse of the final outcome, check out Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream back in old Babylon. That’s Bible stuff.
We might as well find our way through the detritus of passé free-enterprise glory. By the rivers of Babylon do we remember Zion. We may as well seek out new paths among the fallen stones of our rubble-strewn toppled capitalist edifices. New paths of prosperous expression and excellence are hidden in there somewhere, like golden glints in the old prospectors’ pan.
Look out on the horizon, beyond the blue Pacific. What do you see? China, the overwhelming financiers of our present and future. Their hybrid version (a la dialectic synthesis) of communo-capitalism is unlike anything we have ever experienced. Well, maybe the New Deal et al. Statism, micromanaged by Democrat–excuse me–mandarin, bureacrats. Better get used to it, all ye pining libertarian dreamers. Its a brave new world out there.
Its all good, or all bad. It is what it is. Make the best of it.
Good luck with your project, Rick. How’s that workin out for ya, Sarah?