Part 3 — Evening with conservatives: American Enterprise
These are the terms that Arthur Brooks employs to describe the vector on which America may be headed due to the government having more obligations than it can pay for. Many people, he fears, are losing faith in the free enterprise system and are considering a more socialist approach to income redistribution.
Capitalism has performed well historically, though now American capitalism is suffering. Why?
- Government has gotten too big
- The population demographics have shifted undermining the model for paying for social security and services.
- Some financial institutions and corporations have abused the system and government bailed them out.
What Brooks doesn’t describe is how the wealthiest Americans acquired their wealth. Was it “earned” as he suggests working people must do, or was it a windfall?
In a few cases, billionaires and millionaires are geniuses who achieved their wealth by invention: products and enterprise creation.
In many instances, wealthy Americans achieved their wealth by financial moves and investments that were less than transparent and failed to produce products for global consumption. They did not add to the Gross Domestic Product. Some of their actions are found to be illegal. Others require more regulation because they are too risky and should be illegal.
Nor does he speak about the corporate leaders and large shareholders of corporations that make their money largely by defense sales to the government. War is their business and they employ lobbyists to gin up Congressional support for policies that are good for their business. Oddly, these owners and executives are making money from taxpayers and with the exception of foreign military sales; they could be described as corporate welfare.
Surely, much of what they do to support national security is good and necessary, though as President Eisenhower warned, the military industrial complex has much power and influence and that may be abused.
So, one question to ask is what percentage of the cost of government is going toward making defense executives and corporation owners wealthy? Compare that number to the amount of money trying to assist poor people.
American memories are fresh and vivid about the conflicts of interest between members of the Bush Administration and war contractors. There is good reason to suspect that the War in Iraq was an unnecessary one driven by contractor interests to go to war because it was good business.
I am posting Arthur Brooks snippet from an appearance on MSNBC Squawk Box. I don’t have a beef with Brooks over the merit of free enterprise, but American free enterprise hasn’t been transparent and has been unduly corrupted by lobbyists and self-interest. Such has undermined the integrity of the American Political System and economy.
“Arthur Brooks guest hosts CNBC’s Squawk Box – The Road to Freedom”