In Jim Cook's Archive


The exceedingly liberal Minneapolis newspaper ran a recent editorial on baseball. They referred to Yankee owner, George Steinbrener, as greedy. Liberals love to describe successful people as greedy. They prefer the type of business person personified by Wesley Mouch, a character in Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged. Mr. Mouch was proud of the fact that his heavily subsidized company had never made a profit.

George Steinbrener does what is necessary to win. He doesn’t break any laws and the fans reward him with a profit. Baseball salaries may be out of the park, but blame much of that on inflation, players unions and agents. You don’t have to love the Yankees, but you have to admire their success. George fields a winner and fills the ballpark. Isn’t that his job?

Virtually anyone who makes a lot of money gets written off by the left as greed driven. Most of the animosity stems from envy. The sight of people who have made money through greater ability bothers them. They credit this solely to luck, dishonesty or greed. They forget that under the market system you acquire wealth by serving others. Consumers are king and their buying decisions determine who gets rich and who loses out. Everyone has the same opportunity under capitalism and most of us start from the same place. Those with the ability to provide products and services to the greatest number of people make the most money.

Editorial writers for liberal newspapers don’t fare as well at money making as high-tech innovators. However, they prefer to believe that this income disparity comes through exploitation or luck. They want to believe that someone goes without because someone else gets rich. They root for higher taxes to level incomes. But the money earned by wealthy entrepreneurs does not cause anyone’s poverty. The same process that makes entrepreneurs rich also satisfies the people’s wants and needs in the best and cheapest way. Business standardizes our consumption and enjoyment and every citizen shares in these material blessings.

Envy and ignorance of how free market capitalism works account for both the Leninists of yesterday and the liberals of today. Their animosity towards profit-making has saddled business with a host of regulations and social requirements that competitors in other parts of the world don’t have to deal with. Liberals love government and its multiple cures for every social ailment. They fail to realize that public social programs exhaust the resources of the nation and corrupt the citizenry.

Sad to say, I have friends, and even relatives, who vote for political candidates on the left. Generally, they have embraced liberalism because of one or more social issues that concern them. Unfortunately, they allow this narrow perspective to override the great historical struggle of our time between socialism and capitalism (free market vs. government control). They erroneously believe this conflict to be irrelevant or no longer germane. For this belief, they risk exchanging their prosperity and freedom for poverty and statism.

Many believe we have reached a compromise between socialism and capitalism. Not so. There is no middle ground. There is only transition from one to the other. In America, that transition leads down the road to big government and lower living standards.

When the Bolsheviks gained control of Russia, they seized the safe deposit boxes in the banks. Then they opened them at their leisure and stole the contents. They confiscated businesses, land, private property, gold, jewels and the nation’s wealth, all in the name of the state. In terms of economics, the liberals of today are the stepchildren of these revolutionaries. However, today’s proponents of big government are more subtle than their predecessors. They expropriate not through seizure, but through high taxes, lawsuits, judgments and penalties.

Liberals tend to dislike business and hate the profit motive. They hold people who run companies in contempt. They are an envious lot. They want more regulation, limits on compensation and an emphasis on social goals. They think success in business is more a matter of luck than diligence. They are quick to attack corporations in the media. Their politicians don’t hesitate to shake down companies like big tobacco. Their trial lawyers frequently sue hapless companies.

Our strong advocacy of capitalism means that we do not endorse a system where corporations are handed government subsidies, government regulations protect large corporations from competition, trade protections favor certain industries and extravagant money and credit creation enable corporations to profit excessively through speculation and financial engineering. Nor does it sanction tip-offs to the carry-trade that enable hedge funds to profit obscenely on the direction of interest rates. Such government and business handholding is only more socialism.

Hostility towards business runs deep on the left. On college campuses professors pontificate about robber-barons and corporate crooks. Their heroes are never business pioneers or innovative entrepreneurs. They would rather enshrine a Che Guevara than a Ray Kroc or Tom Watson. Che, that hero of leftist lore once claimed, “the oppressor must be killed mercilessly.…the revolutionary must become an efficient and selective killing machine.” Contrast that with a capitalist hero of today, George Gilder, who said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and “Give and you will be given unto,” are the central rules of the life of enterprise.”

Support for the left means far more than promoting your personal social cause. It’s a vote for big government, overregulation, statism and less freedom. It’s a vote for the government to take more and more of what people earn. As much as anything, it’s a vote to put all commerce under the thumb of politicians and government to the point they die off like so many dinosaurs. Voting for a liberal may keep your social cause alive and well, but if the left gains enough influence, you are going to hate your low wages, empty shelves and old car.

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