Monday, December 5, 2011

Do liberals love Capitalism?

My co-host Dr. Patrick O’Heffernan, writing in response to my article “Who owns money?” claims that liberals love capitalism. This is certainly true regarding the liberal millionaires and billionaires who make up the majority of the Forbes 100 richest Americans. More broadly, this is true as every human being on earth loves capitalism. All people naturally love their right to own that which they own and expect to engage freely in the trade of goods, services, and ideas.

Yet Patrick draws a contrast when he writes that liberals hate stealing with the dark implication that Republicans support stealing. As a Jew who had members of my family killed in the Holocaust, I feel compelled to respond to this type of slanderous rhetoric. Patrick wrote “We urge Republicans to help us bring back capitalism, but so far they are only interested in legalizing more ways for companies and billionaires to steal.” Putting aside the fact that there are at least as many Democrat owned companies and billionaires in America, this accusation echoes with past accusations made against Jews by the anti-Semite Karl Marx and by the Nazi socialists. Where exactly do “Republicans” support the legalization of stealing?

I understand Patrick’s fealty to partisanship but his response goes beyond reason. As I wrote in “Who controls money” and as I stated during our broadcast “The Fairness Doctrine” the purpose of government from a conservative perspective, besides protecting life, is to protect property and this means strong laws against corruption, or, as Patrick calls it “stealing.” Conservatives recognize that theft is a dark but persistent part of human nature, one that will never be eradicated, which is why conservatives have championed law and order as a way to reduce this tendency. Conservatives believe that punishment for the crime of theft is a requirement for maintaining the social order. Is it simply not rational, with due respect, for Patrick to suggest that more “Republicans” than Democrats have been involved in theft.

Patrick writes about those who steal “worthless derivatives to investors and then shorting the stock, they steal by illegally giving people loans they can’t afford and then selling the mortgages, they steal by strong arming Congress into giving them a $700 billion bailout and a $7 trillion secret bonus.” Was this the fault of Republicans? Was it Republicanswho supported the transformation of the secondary mortgage market by the government backed Fannie May and Freddie Mac, a transformation that led to an inevitable economic collapse with international reverberations? Was it Republicans who exclusively supported the bailouts or even led the effort? Are the derivative marketers to whom Patrick refers, whoever they may be, Republican or were they more like the ultra-liberal criminal Bernard Madoff who built his reputation amongst fellow liberal millionaires and liberal institutions so he could tragically rip them off?

Of course Republicans were involved in all of these scandals but I would gently suggest to my friend and colleague that those involved were just as likely Democrats. So why turn this into a partisan issue?

Patrick writes “they (Republicans) steal not only money, but democracy by using the money they steal to buy votes to make it legal to steal.” Who is he talking about? President Barack Obama who raised more money than any candidate in history from Wall Street donors? Several of Obama’s bundlers were appointed to positions in his administration and he is still holding fundraisers at $30 thousand per plate. I’d be curious to know what’s on the menu for that kind of money. Is it really accurate to suggest that this is specifically a “Republican” issue or is this more demagoguery?

Patrick claims that “they (Republicans) steal it (money) by buying a tax system that lets them use the public’s resources to get rich but not pay their fair share to build and maintain those resources.” Having debated this issue with Patrick on the air, I gather that he is talking about corporations, such as sports stadiums, who get local governments to give them a break on corporate taxes or who get governments financing of infrastructure using taxpayer money. He is also talking about energy companies. Putting aside whether these situations are justifiable, and they should be examined and discussed on a case by case basis, is it really true that these companies are Republican?

It’s easy to blame Republicans and conservatives for the inevitable crimes committed by criminals operating within a capitalist system because Republicans support capitalism. Indeed most Republicans shudder to contemplate the alternative.

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