In a short post found at Psychology Today, Arthur Dobrin talks about what Mitt Romney and every other Republican defender of unregulated capitalism seems to be missing.
Romney describes what he did at Bain Capital as creative destruction. I won’t argue with that description. After living through the misery of a couple of leveraged buyouts at companies I’ve worked for in the past, I have a strong distaste for anyone in the private equity investment industry – the industry that made Mittens the multi-billionaire he is today.
Capitalism unleashed uproots the old economic with creative approaches.
Nothing works as thoroughly or relentlessly as capitalism does. Daily our lives are faced with novel ways of doing different tasks, with new products that even science fiction writers have a hard time predicting.
Innovation is the way of capitalism. It ploughs under what stands in its way. This is all to the good if the extent of the destruction is the replacement of one product with another (the TV for the radio).
Capitalism also turns over the social order and here is where the Republicans today are tripping over themselves. You cannot support both unleashed capitalism and a stable social order. Along with new products come new ways of doing things; along with new ways of doing things come new ideas.
Capitalism isn’t a conservative process (conserving what we have). Romney is right: it is creative destruction.
In the wake of this creative destruction is the long trail of people whose lives have been unturned, overturned, gone under and marginalized. While in the long run it may be that many more will prosper than suffer, that doesn’t help those who live not in the long run but today. Nor does it help everyone. It may create more good than harm but harm there will be.
And that’s where compassion, concern, social justice and ethics play a role. Those hurt by the destruction can’t be neglected. Those who prosper and a system that touts its virtue by its success cannot be blind to the destruction that it also causes.
Maturity and morality requires taking responsibility for your actions. You can’t take the good and forget about the bad (although there are strong psychological reasons why we do this). There are also strong psychological reasons why we insist on a sense of fairness.
So while Romney is right that he was acting like a proper capitalist, he is wrong in neglecting to point to the role that society has in helping those who have been in the way of the destruction he helped bring about. (SOURCE: Arthur Dobrin, Psychology Today)
What Mitt and his Republican brethren fail to understand is that those who prosper the most have an obligation to support those harmed by that same drive to prosperity. I’m not talking about winner and losers, I’m talking about common human decency. To paraphrase words once used by John Kennedy, those who receive much have an obligation to give back more. Kennedy took that idea straight out of his own Christian faith; the same faith so many self-righteous Republicans and conservatives today use as an excuse to cut taxes and gut social spending.
Conservatives like to portray social programs like food stamps, aid to single mothers, public housing, or educational assistance as government handouts. They squeal incessantly about how those programs encourage recipients to lay around all day and do nothing but breed. They point to charitable organizations, especially churches, as the proper place for the poor to find assistance, but, to quote the late Joe Bageant on the subject, “(u)nfortunately, though, when they put this belief into practice, history shows they tend to take care only of their own kind. – white Protestants.” (Rainbow Pie, p. 46)
A robust social safety net, managed and funded by government through a progressive income tax structure is a necessity in our ever changing industrialized world. It’s been proven over and over again that leaving charity to the good will of those more economically successful among us inevitably leaves many good and decent folks destitute through no fault of their own.
Until we evolve enough as a species to realize that we are inextricably connected to the Earth and all other living things, including, especially, one another, government intervention will be required to enforce our social contracts, be those agreements between nations or between social classes. I don’t see us embracing the utopian future imagined by Gene Roddenberry anytime soon, do you?
Mitt, Newt, and the rest of the “lower taxes for the wealthy” crowd just don’t get it. They cling to the flawed notion that one man, or tiny group of men, create massive wealth all by themselves, without any input from anyone outside their carefully protected inner circle. That failure is what makes them some of the most dangerous people on the planet today.