In Jim Cook's Archive


A new version of the film, “Manchurian Candidate,” replaces the old movie’s Korean War villains with a new set of wrongdoers, the managers of a mutual fund. It’s totally preposterous. The evil company, Manchurian Equities, implants devices in the brains of innocent soldiers to make them kill the newly elected U.S. president. The old movie was good, but the goofy addition of an equity fund as the villain ruins the new movie. The Hollywood left insists on painting business persons as arch criminals, even though it’s ridiculous. They like to depict free enterprise, capitalism and business leaders as a source of evil and criminality. Somehow they think that will influence enough people to further their left-wing agenda.

If it would do any good, someone should read them Llewellyn Rockwell, Jr.’s case for capitalism. “The market economy has created unfathomable prosperity and, decade by decade, century by century, miraculous feats of innovation, production, distribution, and social coordination. To the free market, we owe all material prosperity, all leisure time, our health and longevity, our huge and growing population and nearly everything we call life itself. Capitalism, and capitalism alone, has rescued the human race from degrading poverty, rampant sickness, and early death.”

Lew Rockwell runs the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama. Over the weekend I read his excellent book, “Speaking of Liberty.” He explains why so much hostility exists towards business. “Whether in the arts, entertainment, or academia, the dominant players are talented people who believe that they are wiser and better than the masses. They are appalled that capitalism permits a B-school dropout to become a billionaire while they scrape by for a measly raise when promoted from assistant to associate professor. They set out to cripple the system that brings this about.”

And what does this envy lead to? Rockwell continues, “Outside of one or two economics professors, nearly the entire liberal arts faculty of the typical university is reliably anticapitalist. As a class, liberal arts academics can be depended on to oppose economic development, support high taxes, and latch on to every anti-enterprise cause that comes along.”

Economist, Thomas Sowell writes, “Think about the things that have improved our lives the most over the past century – medical advances, the transportation revolution, huge increases in consumer goods, dramatic improvements in housing, the computer revolution. The people who created these things – the doers – are not popular heroes. Our heroes are the talkers who complain about the doers.”

He continues, “There was a time when most people lived and died within a 50-mile radius of where they were born. The automobile opened a whole new world to these people. It also enabled those living in overcrowded cities to spread out into suburbs and get some elbow room. Trucks got goods to people more cheaply and ambulances got people to hospitals to save their lives. Yet who among the people who did this are today regarded as being as big a hero as Ralph Nader, who put himself on the map with complaints about cars in general and the Corvair in particular? Hard data on automobile safety and tests conducted on the Corvair both undermined Nader’s claims. But he will always be a hero to the talkers.”

Lew Rockwell points out, “The philosopher who strolls around speculating on the meaning of life is seen as the highest form of humanity, while the man who risks his own money to make available food, shelter, medicine, clothing, and all the other material goods that make life livable is despised.”

Animosity towards the merchant class has been around for centuries. Why? The goal of making a profit is quite obviously a self-serving motive. Other occupations, while equally self-serving, are better able to hide their motives. Even though a merchant must provide services for others in order to profit, that part of the equation is overlooked. They’re condemned for making a profit.

Lew Rockwell explains how well this profit system works, “It balances human needs with the availability of all the world’s resources, unleashes the amazing power of human creativity, and works to meet the material needs of every member of society at the least possible cost. It does this through exchange, cooperation, competition, entrepreneurship, and all the institutions that make possible capitalism – the most productive economic system this side of heaven.”

Not long ago I read an article about China and the kind of heroes they glorify in their media. They write about entrepreneurs and business leaders. Contrast that with our hero worship of hip-hop musicians and dysfunctional movie stars. You can read newspaper and magazine articles endlessly about athletes, politicians and entertainers, but not business people (except for a handful, like Martha Stewart, who get into trouble). Do you have any doubts that the Asians will outdo us?

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