I am struck by how little Americans at all levels know and understand the foundations of capitalism, how little or rarely they think deeply about them, and how little they have thought about the different types or shades of capitalism and their pros and cons (e.g., in what way is China more capitalist than the US?).
I am also struck by how they are also often so willing to readily accept the benefits of capitalism but are then unwilling to vigorously defend it (or are intellectually unable to do so) when it is attacked. Not sure if this is driven by guilt, an unwillingness to be unpopular, or other.
This above observations are especially apropos given the current financial crisis. This post is also timely in that it ties into last week’s seminar by our Orfalea College economics faculty that a number of you attended.
So let’s take a minute or two to think more deeply and discuss the topic of capitalism.
To that end I recently came across this very interesting PBS short video that features the famous South American economist, Hernando de Soto, with an insightful take on the relationship between capitalism, the existence of contracts and property rights, and the development of societal and cultural trust and how such trust is formed (Francis Fukuyama, by the way, has written a very insightful book that is listed in your syllabus on this latter topic called Trust: The Social Virtues and The Creation of Prosperity).
Click HERE to watch this PBS segment. (You will need to scroll down and click on the “Chapter 19 – Capitalism Redfined” link. ) This segment has direct relevance to what you will witness in China and India.
And to dig deeper see also these recent WSJ articles, opinion pieces and letters to the editor:
And for a well received book that discusses the different types of capitalism and their tradeoffs, see Good Capitalism, Bad Capitalism: And the Economics of Growth and Prosperity by Baumol, et al.
Your thoughts, biases, beliefs, arguments, concerns?