Has Capitalism Failed?
Congressional Record—U.S. House of Representatives July 9, 2002
To condemn free-market capitalism because of anything going on today makes no sense. There is no evidence that capitalism exists today. We are deeply involved in an interventionist-planned economy that allows major benefits to accrue to the politically connected of both political spectrums. One may condemn the fraud and the current system, but it must be called by its proper names— Keynesian inflationism, interventionism, and corporatism.
What is not discussed is that the current crop of bankruptcies reveals that the blatant distortions and lies emanating from years of speculative orgy were predictable.
First, Congress should be investigating the federal govern- ment’s fraud and deception in accounting, especially in reporting future obligations such as Social Security, and how the monetary system destroys wealth. Those problems are bigger than anything in the corporate world and are the responsibility of Congress. Besides, it’s the standard set by the government and the monetary system it operates that are major contributing causes to all that’s wrong on Wall Street today. Where fraud does exist, it’s a state rather than a federal matter, and state authorities can enforce these laws without any help from Congress.
Second, we do know why financial bubbles occur, and we know from history that they are routinely associated with speculation, excessive debt, wild promises, greed, lying, and cheating. These problems were described by quite a few observers as the problems were developing throughout the ‘90s, but the warnings were ignored for one reason. Everybody was making a killing and no one cared, and those who were reminded of history were reas- sured by the Fed Chairman that “this time” a new economic era had arrived and not to worry. Productivity increases, it was said, could explain it all.
But now we know that’s just not so. Speculative bubbles and all that we’ve been witnessing are a consequence of huge amounts of easy credit, created out of thin air by the Federal Reserve. We’ve had essentially no savings, which is one of the most significant driving forces in capitalism. The illusion created by low interest rates perpetuates the bubble and all the bad stuff that goes along with it. And that’s not a fault of capitalism. We are dealing with a system of inflationism and interventionism that always produces a bubble economy that must end badly.
So far the assessment made by the administration, Congress, and the Fed bodes badly for our economic future. All they offer is more of the same, which can’t possibly help. All it will do is drive us closer to national bankruptcy, a sharply lower dollar, and a lower standard of living for most Americans, as well as less free- dom for everyone.
This is a bad scenario that need not happen. But preserving our system is impossible if the critics are allowed to blame capitalism and sound monetary policy is rejected. More spending, more debt, more easy credit, more distortion of interest rates, more regulations on everything, and more foreign meddling will soon force us into the very uncomfortable position of deciding the fate of our entire political system.
If we were to choose freedom and capitalism, we would restore our dollar to a commodity or a gold standard. Federal spending would be reduced, income taxes would be lowered, and no taxes would be levied upon savings, dividends, and capital gains. Regulations would be reduced, special-interest subsidies would be stopped, and no protectionist measures would be permitted. Our foreign policy would change, and we would bring our troops home.
We cannot depend on government to restore trust to the mar- kets; only trustworthy people can do that. Actually, the lack of trust in Wall Street executives is healthy because it’s deserved and prompts caution. The same lack of trust in politicians, the budgetary process, and the monetary system would serve as a healthy incentive for the reform in government we need.
Markets regulate better than governments can. Depending on government regulations to protect us significantly contributes to the bubble mentality.
These moves would produce the climate for releasing the creative energy necessary to simply serve consumers, which is what capitalism is all about. The system that inevitably breeds the corporate-government cronyism that created our current ongoing dis- aster would end.
Capitalism didn’t give us this crisis of confidence now existing in the corporate world. The lack of free markets and sound money did. Congress does have a role to play, but it’s not proactive. Congress’s job is to get out of the way.