The Outrage Is Comparing Free Markets to Capitalism
The Daily Ticker's Henry Blodget posted a Business Insider entitled "OUTRAGE OF THE DAY: Do You Realize That The Government Is Still Paying Banks Not To Lend...?" Blodget explains that "the Federal Reserve is still paying big banks not to lend money. And it's doing that while screwing average Americans who have been responsible and lived within their means."
... But fund manager Mark Dow of Pharo Management, a former staff economist at the IMF and Treasury, has a different opinion. Dow believes "interest on excess reserves" and the other more explicit bailouts for banks were – and are – a necessary evil to keep the banking system up and running. ... "Unless you want to kill the capitalist system," you need a banking system, Dow says.
But what is the capitalist system? Capitalism is not a free-market system, despite its ordinary usage. Capitalism has come to describe a system of corporatism, bureaucracy and overwhelming regulation that has little to do with the way free-markets are supposed to work and do work ... when they are left alone. It is often referred to in these humble pages as mercantilism. A free-market system certainly would not have included a central bank that could bail out banks that made innumerable bad loans.
Further, that central bank doesn't bail out commercial banks at no cost; the newly created currency used to prop up those commercial banks essentially socializes the costs and will hurt everyone else in the economy that has to deal in the currency in question.
Bank runs and the threat of bank runs are part of a true free-market capitalist system. It is a gross distortion to suggest that propping up bad businesses – including banks – and especially by means of a government-chartered central bank is anything other than "crony capitalism." Or call it, perhaps, corporatism or fascism.
Blodget's article supports the idea that government and central bank interventions are necessary checks to keep the productive benefits of capitalism flowing. This sort of intervention only succeeds in creating more misallocations of capital, more booms with guaranteed busts, and eventually economic collapse.
Posted by Charlie on 08/28/11 08:15 AM
My American Heritage:
"Capitalism: An economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately or corporately owned and development is proportionate to the accumulation and reinvestment of profits gained in a free market."
This is not a description of the U.S. economy and has not been for a very long time (and control is the essence of ownership) although the dominant social message is that the U.S. does have a capitalist system and it has failed (apparently an attempt to equate it with the nonviable concept of central planning). Accepting this lie as now truth because MSM and the "educational" establishment have managed to make most of the population ignorant of the meaning of the term "capitalism" is not consistent with the advancement of liberty or even exposing the lies and language corruption used to achieve mind control. Smugly telling me to "complain to the language commissioner" is not a defense of this apparent change in philosophy of the DB to accepting a "dominant social meme" (nor is quoting Wikipedias "analysis"). This article is a big disappointment and highly suspect.
Posted by Charlie on 08/27/11 09:41 PM
"2) You can rail against the redefinition of capitalism as much as you want but it has come to represent the modern system of "business." It is simply a fact! "
Nonsense! Why "rail" about anything then? Why not simply accept the tyranny, after all, it is "simply a fact"! Why allow the elites and MSM to corrupt the language and destroy a peoples ability to grasp the abstraction of private ownership? They have pretty much destroyed it in practice, now all they have to do is eliminate the idea of it by corrupting language and redefining. And you accept this as inevitable and irreversible?
Reply from The Daily Bell
OK, sir, complain to the language commissioner.
Posted by John Danforth on 08/27/11 09:20 PM
If we use the same words but mean different things by their use, we are not communicating.
The dictionary is clear on the definition -- they haven't changed that yet!
I can't deny that the dominant social theme of the corruption of the meaning has had some success, but I don't have to accept it, or allow it to slip by unchallenged in conversation.
Posted by John Danforth on 08/27/11 01:09 PM
"Capitalism - a word used within the rhetorical parabola of Marxist rhetoric - carries the baggage of the 20th century accretion of regulation and government activism. It is a "big government" approach to free markets. That should be evident and needs no redefintion."
Words have meanings, they denote concepts. When the issue is your right to own property and to live for your own sake, this is important, because it really does boil down to a gun pointed at your head.
If you allow your enemies to redefine your terms for you, you lose because you have been disarmed.
What we have in the U.S., going by technical definitions, is a fascist system sold with communist slogans. And those communist slogans attribute all the faults and characteristics of fascism to capitalism.
This has been the main dominant social theme pushed for the last 7 or more decades to grow doubt in the minds of people beginning in kindergarten. "Capitalism (actually fascism) is bad, but socialism will save you."
Charlie has a good point; they've polluted the idea of rights to the point where the only term that is supposed to mean economic freedom is now a derogatory term, and this pollution goes so far as to prevent people from understanding basic economics. There is no term that means 'economic freedom' to replace it.
I don't care if Marx tried to pollute the concept. I didn't fall for it.
I've seen the same point made here over the bass-tardization of the word 'anarchist'. The term gets tarred with the actions of those who are diametrically opposed to the underlying principle.
"Wow - read the above definition. Corporations - "companies" are artificial entities. Who knows what the market would look like without central banks and corporations? Yet these two elements are accepted as essential elements of "capitalism."
I'd like to see how you could have any division of labor economy without 'companies'. How do you propose to stop me from exercising my right of free association and my right to make contracts with others?
Where in that definition did the concept of divorcing government from business include the abomination of a central bank?!?! Or the idea that any corporation or company should enjoy any kind of special privileges? Both of these are fascist conceptions. Buying into the idea that capitalism is fascism means you have already fallen for the origin Hegelian dialectic, hook line and sinker.
The whole thing is Orwellian. Next thing, we'll all be nodding our heads, agreeing that we should stop arguing against the point the slavery is freedom.
Not me. No, I won't give it up.
Capitalism is what free, honest people do to survive and thrive in the absence of coercion and fraud. That's it.
Lastly, if land cannot be owned, the people are chattel. The only possible implementation of this idea is that the collective will exercise the prerogatives of ownership (while denying it, yet exercising control over its use and disposal), meaning those who presume to speak for the collective will extort property from the productive. To those who hew to this idea, when your policies become too burdensome for me, I will rise to the top of the control structure that determines who gets to live where and how much the rent will be, and I will make you wish you had somewhere you could rest in peace; I will hound you out of your workplace and out of your home, your debt to me will never be paid. You will have no place to run to, you will be hounded to death there, too. And I will be paid handsomely for doing this service to humanity. (Well, actually I don't have it in me to do that. But that's what you'll get anyway. There are plenty who will gladly fill in.) If you don't have property rights, you won't have any other rights, because you'll be owned.
Reply from The Daily Bell
1) I'd like to see how you could have any division of labor economy without 'companies'. ... We were referring to corporations - an entirely artificial, judicial entity.
2) You can rail against the redefinition of capitalism as much as you want but it has come to represent the modern system of "business." It is simply a fact!
Posted by Rrust on 08/26/11 10:32 PM
Re: Capitalism and Free Markets
I'm not so sure I'm quite ready to consign Ayn Rand to the dustbin of history, which seems a possible consequence of the popular separation of *capitalism* from *free markets*.
Perhaps that's just my age and education, but I doubt it. I think the general perception of the definition of capitalism has altered over the course of my lifetime, mostly in the latter portion.
Is it simple coincidence, that the downward fall in the popular perception of the merits of *capitalism* paralleled the increase in the creeping and seeping of government intrusion into every nook and cranny of life… throughout the *western world*?
I do not doubt for a moment that the poison that deflated the definition of *capitalism* was largely due to the constantly-increasing alliances between large corporate entities and government. --A potent, foul-smelling, poisonous mixture.
The definition of capitalism excludes government, for government is nothing but the action of pure force; and capitalism is based on recognition of individual rights, including property rights, and excludes physical force from human relationships.
Daily Bell, TW; I fear the problem here with defining capitalism is related to a difference in our ages. You have heard nothing but the word used pejoratively in your lifetime (perhaps, smile), while I inserted Ayn Rand rather heavily into my formative-years' education, and have revisited her thinking frequently since. I'll vote with Ayn Rand.
Reply from The Daily Bell
You seem to imply the analysis is original. It is not ...
Click to view link
"Critics of capitalism associate it with: unfair distribution of wealth and power; a tendency toward market monopoly or oligopoly (and government by oligarchy); imperialism, counter-revolutionary wars and various forms of economic and cultural exploitation; repression of workers and trade unionists; social alienation; economic inequality; unemployment; and economic instability.
"Notable critics of capitalism have included: socialists, anarchists, communists, national socialists, social democrats, technocrats, some types of conservatives, Luddites, Narodniks, Shakers and some types of nationalists.
Marxists have advocated a revolutionary overthrow of capitalism that would lead to socialism, before eventually transforming into communism. Many socialists consider capitalism to be irrational, in that production and the direction of the economy are unplanned, creating many inconsistencies and internal contradictions. Labor historians and scholars such as Immanuel Wallerstein have argued that unfree labor — by slaves, indentured servants, prisoners, and other coerced persons — is compatible with capitalist relations.
"Many aspects of capitalism have come under attack from the anti-globalization movement, which is primarily opposed to corporate capitalism. Environmentalists have argued that capitalism requires continual economic growth, and that it will inevitably deplete the finite natural resources of the Earth.
"Many religions have criticized or opposed specific elements of capitalism. Traditional Judaism, Christianity, and Islam forbid lending money at interest, although alternative methods of banking have been developed. Some Christians have criticized capitalism for its materialist aspects. Indian philosopher P.R. Sarkar, founder of the Ananda Marga movement, developed the Law of Social Cycle to identify the problems of capitalism."
Posted by Charlie on 08/26/11 09:46 PM
Exactly! And the IDEA of private ownership of economic means goes down the memory hole as "capitalism" is redefined into corporate-statism. Private ownership, the idea of it, the understanding of it, is what is really under attack with this tactic, whether Gibson gets that or not. Orwell did.
Posted by Charlie on 08/26/11 09:39 PM
So there really IS no term that means private ownership of the means of production and distribution, as opposed to state ownership??? Marx may have said this but it is foolish to deny that private ownership of economic means exists and is called capitalism because it is "being forced to use a Marxist frame of analysis". Redefining the traditional meaning of capitalism (the prior mentioned private ownership) as corporatism/mercantilism IS part of the dialectic. And going along with this by saying "it has come to to describe" and not acknowledging this deliberate redefining of the term that has always been used to describe the concept of private ownership supports it.
]]]"What? "Capitalism" IS used to describe the current Western system."[[[
And why is that? That is the point. Capitalism did not used to mean that, nor was it seen as evil.
]]]] And the current system of Western economics has little to do with either Misesian human action or free-market thinking.[[[
I never said it did. The current system does not allow private ownership of economic means, it is not capitalistic, it is mercantilistic, corporatist.
]]]]In the current context, we would argue capitalism and mercantilism are one and the same.[[[[
And you are participating in the dialectical redefinition of capitalism, private ownership of economic means rather than state ownership (or control), as evil. This surprises me.
Posted by Charlie on 08/26/11 05:43 PM
Capitalism is private ownership of the means of production and distribution. Saying it has "come to describe" the current mercantilism simply advances the elites deliberate re-definition of capitalism as this evil system. It is the corruption of language. Notice the elites have not provided us with a replacement word that means private ownership of the means of production and distribution. If there is no word for it the concept disppears from the consciousness. Just as "freedom" has been redefined, just as the word "anarchy" has been redefined to mean "chaos" instead of simply absence of government. Language and thought are very closely related.
Reply from The Daily Bell
"Capitalism is private ownership of the means of production and distribution."
See, this is a kind of Marxist interpretation - a definition that uses a Marxist frame of analysis. So within this context, one is being forced to use Marxist terminology. (See feedbacker "Adam" below for more on this.)
"Saying it has "come to describe" the current mercantilism simply advances the elites deliberate re-definition of capitalism as this evil system."
What? "Capitalism" IS used to describe the current Western system. And the current system of Western economics has little to do with either Misesian human action or free-market thinking. In the current context, we would argue capitalism and mercantilism are one and the same.
Posted by Dave Jr on 08/26/11 02:33 PM
Ya, I would rather be beaten into the ground by worthy competitors than decietfully held up and raped by something that professes to be helping me.
Posted by Adam on 08/26/11 02:26 PM
This article too.
'The term 'capitalism' has been the most successful propaganda term in human history.'
(It really has!)
Capitalism: A Brilliantly Confused Story by Fred E. Foldvary
Click to view link
Posted by Adam on 08/26/11 02:23 PM
Check your premises. -- Ayn Rand
Here's an indication as to the origins of the term 'capitalism':
'... Marx and his followers then came along and mucked up the language and thinking. Marx wanted to distinguish the workers from all those who owned assets, and so he lumped land into capital. From then on, most economists followed Marx in focusing only on labor and capital, and the physiocratic and classical emphasis on land was set aside. The neoclassical economic thought that followed the classical was encouraged to forget land, since this benefited the landed interests who financed them, and it also made the mathematical models easier if there are two rather than three factors. From now on, the system would be called 'capitalism.' But is capital a problem? Capital provides investment, and investment and better technology is what has raised living standards world-wide. 'Capitalism' makes entrepreneurs and owners of capital the villains, whereas Ricardo's law of rent shows that much of the gain from trade and technology go to the owners of land as rent... '
Fixing Capitalism by Fred E. Foldvary
Click to view link
A short time after reading the above article, I gave up using the terms 'capitalism' and 'anarcho-capitalism' as synonymous with free markets. I realised that it's futile to attempt to redefine Marxist Hegelian dialectical propaganda for your own purposes. I cringe at the time I wasted in pro 'capitalism' debates.
Reply from The Daily Bell
Well done, Young Adam.
Posted by budwood on 08/26/11 01:57 PM
Certainly; it's near impossible to reconcile a capitalistic system with free enterprise. Probably why I never was able to do so. Maybe those with more flexible intellects can reconcile the two systems, but as the Bell says, "Capitalism is a 'big government' approach to free markets".
It is rather curious that so many advocates of less governmental activities are defenders of "Capitalism". Maybe "Capitalism" has become an accepted counterbalance to Marxism. In any event, we seem to be offered a choice; "a bullet in the head of an economy" or "slow strangulation".
Posted by jkluttz on 08/26/11 01:41 PM
I agree. The term capitalism has been lost to us free market types for a long time. Most of our fellow citizens think we are defending the current mess when we defend capitalism.
Posted by Dave Jr on 08/26/11 01:09 PM
John, lets just release the hijacked term of capitalism. Lets just be free market enthusiasts. I never liked any "isms" anyway.
Posted by Dave Jr on 08/26/11 01:05 PM
Short, sweet and to the point. Thankyou Mr. Gibson.
Bank runs are/were a correction of corruption in a free market system. They should be viewed as a good thing.
Posted by Avatar on 08/26/11 12:51 PM
Bank runs and the threat of bank runs are part of a true free-market capitalist system. It is a gross distortion to suggest that propping up bad businesses - including banks - and especially by means of a government-chartered central bank is anything other than "crony capitalism." Or call it, perhaps, corporatism or fascism.
I agree that given an informed consumer banks should not be bailed out. However when one examines the elite influence behind the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act through such people as Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers, Wendy and Phil Gramm and other banking elites which expounded on the Reagan theme of deregulation and the resulting trillions dollar growths in derivatives backed by billions (not logical). This brought the Banks to the brink of a major collapse. Wendy Gramm cited the exponential growth as evidence of the GOOD of free market unregulated capitalism. Now some of the major players are singing a different tune.
Posted by alexsemen on 08/26/11 12:00 PM
I totaly agree with the author !
But the actual/former concetual definition of Capitalism is not more then Corporatism which is the fundament of Fascism ! It is worst then even the Socialism !Because In Corporato-Fascism the wealth and money are going only UP, for the benefit of few with the social pact that the State will guaranty this dreinage as long in Socialism it least it not so ! As Socialism has produced no wealth, how in Gods name in one- or two years within the economical disaster has appeared so many billionaires in former Socialist country. Applying the new rules of Capitalism !!??????????. Which rules ! Of what is called Capitalism, but billionaires appeared when nothing was more produced or 100000 times less then in Socialist time !
It was as it is now in Corporato_Fascism Capitalism only a absolute plundering/robbery( continuing the historical Epic of plundering/robbery ) of the wealth ! (Bastiat )
But John Danforth , sorry, your definition( language corruption with fairy-tales) about Capitalism is and was never real and is only a childish Utopian definition. It was never so as you said ! All known history has proven without any doubt what I'm saying !
Fascism and Communism was only one Machiavellian way to confiscate through and by the Capitalism the wealth from working and creative masses.
Posted by Rrust on 08/26/11 11:41 AM
I too gagged on the re-definition of *capitalism*, and could not seriously get much farther. Gary Gibson probably has many good points, but that re-defining was just too much to swallow.
Thanks John, for putting the point so thoroughly, eloquently, and clearly.
Reply from The Daily Bell
"Economic system characterized by the following: private property ownership exists; individuals and companies are allowed to compete for their own economic gain; and free market forces determine the prices of goods and services. Such a system is based on the premise of separating the state and business activities. Capitalists believe that markets are efficient and should thus function without interference, and the role of the state is to regulate and protect."
Click to view link
Wow - read the above definition. Corporations - "companies" are artificial entities. Who knows what the market would look like without central banks and corporations? Yet these two elements are accepted as essential elements of "capitalism."
Capitalism - a word used within the rhetorical parabola of Marxist rhetoric - carries the baggage of the 20th century accretion of regulation and government activism. It is a "big government" approach to free markets. That should be evident and needs no redefintion.
Posted by John Danforth on 08/26/11 11:40 AM
Exactly so, Alan. And that ain't capitalism.
Posted by Alan on 08/26/11 11:14 AM
Gary Gibson has got it right. Fraud by major corporations now appears to be widespread and apparently legally OK. What gets me is that the "Legal" system states that a corporation has the same status as a person when it comes to "rights" but not when it comes to responsibilities. Because of the power of money, corporations can apparently do what they like. It gets me that a private business has the responsibilities that public corporations are not required to meet. They are owned by people, so what is the difference. If I as a private business owner commit fraud I would probably go to jail and have to repay ALL of the money i obtained by fraud. I understand some pharma companies have paid out over $ 20 bln over about 10 years because they committed fraudulent actions, but the fines were a fraction of the revenue derived by their actions. I guess they make provision for these costs in their budgets. Why are they not jailed (= taken over without recompense) by the legal system and sold to people who will hopefully have some sense of integrity. The shareholders are responsible for selection of the board, so they should have to power to control what the board and senior execs do on their behalf. So the shareholders should be exposed to the risks that they seem to be quite happy with if it makes them extra money. I hold public company shares and have been on the board of a number of companies over the last 40 odd years, and have owned my own company for many years. It must be odd that I have still felt that any organisation that I have been involved with must have integrity in what it does and how it presents it to the shareholders and the public. The whole legal system regarding public companies is designed to protect them from genuine people and organisations.