Sunday, July 25, 2010

The ethics of our "capitalism"...

Below are links and excerpts from two relatively mainstream thinkers - former Senator Gary Hart and John Bogle, Founder of Vanguard, - who come at this from different directions, but end at similar conclusions to Joe Bageant and Michael Moore who's perspective I referenced here. Any chance that someone can build momentum on this issue and make the changes that we must or do we continue as a country to worship at the alter of the illusion of a "free-market" and yearning for a return to the past that never really existed?

Gary Hart - When Do I Prosper? - "In the past three decades or more we have all become consumers. Bigger houses, bigger cars, more things. At the same time we were producing less, importing more, and basing our economy on manipulating money to make money. The results were predictable. Huge trade deficits. Selling US bonds to finance the deficits and to buy more things.

It's pretty obvious we can't keep doing this forever. This pattern has brought us to the mess we are in today. The question is whether we'll find a way to pick up where consumption, money manipulation, and unproductivity left off, or whether we will restore a national economy that produces, saves, invests, makes things, and pays its way."

John C. Bogle - Financial Reform: Will it Forestall a Future Crisis of Ethic Proportions? - "Commerce, business, and finance have hardly been exempt from this trend. Relying on Adam Smith's "invisible hand," we have depended on the marketplace and competition to create prosperity and well-being. But self-interest got out of hand. It created a "bottom-line" society in which success is measured in monetary terms. Dollars became the coin of the new realm. Unchecked market forces overwhelmed traditional standards of professional conduct, developed over centuries.

The result has been a shift from moral absolutism to moral relativism. We've moved from a society in which "there are some things that one simply does not do" to one in which "if everyone else is doing it, I can too."

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