What is capitalism, after all? It is not a system…not a plan…not a program. It was not decreed by any half-wit tyrant…nor written into law by any earnest assembly. It has no constitution…and no boundaries. It is merely a recognition of basic principles. “Thou shalt not steal,” it says in the Bible. Capitalism recognizes other peoples’ property. The baker has a right to his oven. The farmer has a right to his land. The capitalist has a right to his money. What they do with these things is up to them.
Will they make mistakes? Of course they will. Will they do evil and obnoxious things? No doubt about it. Will they occasionally lose their heads and overprice their assets…or run the whole economy into too much debt…or blow themselves up in a bubble? You bet.
As Adam Smith described, they will also bumble along to create the wealth of nations.
But larceny wasn’t invented in the 21st century either. Naturally, people want what the capitalists have. Everywhere and always, the thieves will find reasons why they should be able to take it from them. They will respect the environment better, they say. They will invest in “socially responsible” projects, they claim. They will heal the lame and make the blind see. If only they get their hands on your money!
We don’t particularly like capitalism or capitalists. We just don’t like anyone telling us what to do. So, doing unto others as we would have them do unto us, we make no effort to tell others what to do with their money. If they want to give it to Bernie Madoff or to Barack Obama, so be it – just count us out. If they want to invest in CDOs and MBDs…well, good luck to them; but don’t look to us to bail them out.
~ Bill Bonner, "A Broken Down Stock Market," LewRockwell.com, February 26, 2008