Friday, November 7, 2008

Do Americans understand Capitalism?

Dick Armey rebukes the Republican Party for its embrace of big government in the guise of "compassionate conservatism".
WSJ: 'Compassionate' Conservatism Was a Mistake
I remember when then-head of the Party Ed Gillespie said that it no longer stood for small government. The election is certainly a come-uppance for him and all those who agreed with him. Hopefully, those who believed that their religion required a bigger government will also get the message.

In his op-ed, Armey writes of
. . . an abiding fear that the public simply would not understand limited government and expanded individual freedoms.
As I see it, the American public's opposition to the bail-out suggests that they do "understand limited government and expanded individual freedoms."

In other words, they do understand Capitalism.


  1. Rob, could you expand a little on why you think that opposition to the latest bailout is proof of support for capitalism?

    Individuals I've met generally oppose the bailout because of their hatred of bankers. Their opposition is pragmatic, not principled. The latter is required for support of capitalism, which is a political system protecting individual rights on principle--with a free market being a consequence.

  2. Hi Burgess - first of all, I want to apologize for taking so long to respond to your comment. I haven't been ignoring you, but I have been ignoring my blog. I've allowed myself to be distracted by the election and by trying to figure out what it means, which has been complicated by the fact that - while the nation rejected the Republican Party by giving the Democrats the Presidency and both houses of Congress - the Republicans in Oklahoma gained control of both houses of the legislature.

    So I've been trying to get a handle on all that, and kind of letting this blog go by the wayside while I did it.

    However, to answer your question: why do I think that opposition to the latest bailout is proof of support for capitalism?

    I think a lot of it has to do with the situation here in Oklahoma. You mention a hatred of bankers - I don't think people here in Oklahoma feel quite the same way. I don't know if you've ever heard of Penn Square Bank, but when it failed back in the 80's a lot of people saw it as playing a major role in the decline of Oklahoma's economy back then. Between the bank failures and the oil bust, the feeling was "Last one out of Oklahoma don't forget to turn off the light." So people here want to depend on their banks and know that they are secure.

    Also, I think there's a feeling on the part of many people here that economic freedom and economic security tend to go hand in hand. This certainly seems to be the platform that many Republican candidates here ran on and I think it played a major role in their success in the election. Of course, religion probably played a part in that as well, and maybe even racism, but that's a subject for another discussion.

    I could mention other things, such as comments on discussion boards, statements by politicians, etc, that point to a greater resistance toward government intervention in general. I seem to recall some comments on Jim Inhofe's campaign site, specifically, equating the bailout with socialism.

    Anyway, I don't know how much this applies to the rest of the country. I do seem to recall statements relating the bailout to socialism from Congressmen in other parts of the country, reflecting similar feelings on the part of their constituents. And there's always Ayn Rand's "Don't Let It Go", which suggests that Americans are still more freedom-oriented in general than some would give them credit for.

    Well, that's all I can come up with right now. Hope it helps.