Michael Moore recently released a new documentary titled Capitalism: A Love Story. His thesis is basically that capitalism is evil and needs to be replaced with something that better supports the people. It’s easy to sympathize with the evidence that he presents, especially given the current economic woes America is facing. But is Capitalism really to blame?
The economic theory proposed by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations basically proposed the idea that human greed could be used as an “invisible hand” to guide people to ultimately do what is best for society. He proposed a trickle-down theory of wage earning; the more money a company earns, the more capital it has available for paying workers to perform the labor required. Contrary to popular opinion, Smith did not propose the exploitation of the proletariat. In fact, he wrote that any person who performs the same sort of repetitive tasks over the course of his life will inevitably become “as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for the human creature to become.” He advocated the development of industrial technology to replace these repetitive tasks and envisioned competition among skilled laborers resulting in wages that are competitively priced across the marketplace. The goal was to turn a traditionally terrible human trait (greed) into something ultimately beneficial to society.
My opinion is that capitalism is not the source of our troubles. There are several issues we need to deal with before we can fully recover from the economic crisis we currently face. One of the main issues is outsourcing. We have, for various environmental and political reasons, outsourced much of our manufacturing and service capacity to foreign territories. Adam Smith warned about this – the short-term benefits are far outweighed by the long-term damage that will inevitably come to any nation that sacrifices its self-reliance. We also need to bring some balance back to the wages offered to the bourgeoisie. When the CEO of a company makes two-thousand times the salary of the highest paid employee something is obviously wrong. The position of CEO is important, but to be honest it is much easier to find a business major capable of leading a corporation than it is to find a nuclear physicist. Anyone who disagrees with that statement needs to read this. I am so sick of hearing about corporations that post multi-billion dollar losses and yet continue to offer their CEO and board of directors hundreds of millions in bonuses and perks. I think even Adam Smith would have these people executed as traitors.
Michael Moore is a great film maker, and I whole-heartedly support his freedom to create whatever films he wants. I appreciate debate in the political and social arena, and I wish we could all actually debate the issues without becoming so emotionally involved that we begin attacking each other. Democracy and capitalism can work together to produce a country beneficial to all of us if we have the courage to work together and stamp out the problem areas as they arise. I don’t believe Socialism is the answer, but it is a necessary step if the market is unable to moderate itself from the inside out.
Finally, to make this blog entry suitable for posting on my “technical” blog, here is some programming advice: If you program, learn C# and then learn LINQ. If not, try out Phrogram.
My next entry will be on LINQ. It’s time to get back to the world of development for a while. :)