Recently, Republican presidential (non-)contender, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, in a desperate attempt to salvage his hopeless bid for his Party’s nomination, characterized the leading primary candidate, former Governor Mitt Romney, as a “vulture capitalist.” Of course, this name-slinging has been the bar for the contest, but the use of this slang to describe the frontrunner has sparked some media attention. Romney, a venture capitalist, one who seeks to revive struggling companies, has come under fire recently for his business acumen. Venture capitalism is often lauded, but sometimes companies soliciting help to save them from financial ruin, have been nevertheless destroyed by firms that have masqueraded as their rescuers and have answered their calls for salvation.
What is immensely ironic to this writer about the alarm generated by Perry’s and others’ remarks is the fact that capitalists have historically benefitted and profited from the sinking of companies. These circumstances are nothing new. Such is the very nature of unregulated competition and moneyed greed. Because the system is flawed, those who become rich from involvement in it should not be maligned or considered evil. It is what it is. However, a system that allows that to happen without moderating income and ensuring no one will go without who does not engage in the venture is seriously flawed and must be revamped or demolished.
Charitable responses to those who suffer from capitalism’s uncaring and divisive juggernaut, on the one hand, and the ravages of greed—cloaked ostensibly in the celebration of hard work and merit—on the other hand, are paternalistic at best and grossly negligent at worst. Anybody who is still captious in their remarks about the poor in the midst of the economic crisis that saw bailouts and tax breaks for the perennially wealthy ought to be ashamed. Anyone who is not in favor of building safeguards against penury in the name of maintaining free enterprise ought to have one’s head examined. An unfettered market economy will inevitably result in class distinctions and the steady widening of the gap between the rich and the poor.
We pay so much homage to “founding principles” and the ability to be free from oversight that we fail to lift up the concomitant history of goodness, compassion, empathy, and so forth. The bedrock of capitalism is not liberty, but dependency; not fraternity, but rapacity; not compassion, but avarice; and not solidarity, but control. These harsh realities have called some people to talk about the concept of “moral capitalism.” This idea points to the fact that because humans are selfish, ambitious, and indifferent to others’ pain, policies must be established to curtail self-aggrandizement. Protecting consumers, laborers, the unemployed, single parents, children, etc., would be at the vital center of those who inject morality into micro and macro economics.
The primary issue with this type of capitalism is that it is not inclined towards dismantling the system. Rather, it makes no fundamental changes to the acquisition of wealth and the underpayment of labor. It does not disrupt ill-gotten gain and the dehumanization of the working class. An analogy would be allowing a disease to spread by ignoring its source and appeasing the suffering patients with morphine and other pain-killers—when a medicinal cure for the disease is readily available. Most people would not see the value in letting folks die a painful death, for they would recognize how unconscionable it would be.