Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Was Gordon Gekko a Roark?

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

I have seen the director of Wall Street (was it Oliver Stone?) remarking about his character of Gordon Gecko (played by Michael Douglas) as being the "bad guy" in the movie, and his surprise to learn that the audience liked Gecko! I have always postulated in my mind that this is because what was supposedly Gecko's evil stock-market manueverings were actually consistent with Objectivist ideology in many ways, and that the audience picked up on that quite clearly even despite the fact that both the actors and the directors did not! I have always thought how amazing this is, and it is one of the reasons that I continue to pull out my DVD of "Wall Street" once and awhile, and replay it. The moral issues in the movie are so interesting when cast in the framework of Objectivist ethics and philosophy.

I was wondering if any Objectivists out there have had any similar responses to the film, and whether you have contemplated the issues:

1) Is Capitalism moral ("Greed is Good")

2) Is insider trading moral? Are insider trading laws immoral? Should they be repealed?

3) Are anti-trust laws unethical?

In particular, was Gecko actually a moral man and Bud Fox the confused guy who was actually the criminal? Fox is the one who stole company documents, not Gecko. And surmising Larry's take-over of Annecot Steel was an interpretation of information, something people do every day when buying stocks. Why does the audience love Gecko's character? Because he is moral, and it is moral for a middle class guy to become rich.

Your thoughts. . . .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I liked the movie, but Gekko is no Roark. What he is is a rare, largely correct depiction of an ambitious Wall Street financier. He makes money by trading stocks, which also at times involves taking over poorly run companies and running them better. Some of today's private equity and hedge fund managers would play that role. One hundred years ago it would have been played by the likes of J.P. Morgan who formed some of the country's greatest companies, such as U.S. Steel, through stock investing.

The movie works hard to put clay feet on Gekko, showing him encouraging and profiting from Bud Fox's theft of company documents. That overlay of evil seemed quite contrived to me. It struck me that a man as successful as Gekko would not have to resort to such stupid tactics. Even if he wasn't ethical, he would not be so stupid as to incriminate himself so easily.

The fact that the movie's writers could not allow Gekko to simply be a good and competent financier is telling of the state of our culture. The fact that this movie was so popular, when its hero was so imperfect, also shows how desperate and receptive Americans still are for true business heroes. Americans got it, that success is good and that throwing out bad company managements which Gekko did is good. They got it when Gekko said, "Greed is good."

It sounds like you might not have read The Fountainhead. I encourage you to read it and Atlas Shrugged. In those books you will see fictional depictions of truly great business heroes, the likes of which have never appeared in any movie (although they walk and walked the earth around us in America, both past and present).

As for the other questions you ask, ask the first one again (Is capitalism moral?) after you have read Atlas Shrugged. For your other two questions, other threads on this forum may have dealt with them. On the antitrust issue, I recommend the book, Abolition of Antitrust, edited by Gary Hull, and any of the books by the economist Dominick Armentano, as well as an article on the topic in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. Ayn Rand has commented on antitrust fairly extensively.

Edited by Galileo Blogs
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I liked the movie, but Gekko is no Roark. What he is is a rare, largely correct depiction of an ambitious Wall Street financier. He makes money by trading stocks, which also at times involves taking over poorly run companies and running them better. Some of today's private equity and hedge fund managers would play that role. One hundred years ago it would have been played by the likes of J.P. Morgan who formed some of the country's greatest companies, such as U.S. Steel, through stock investing.

The movie works hard to put clay feet on Gekko, showing him encouraging and profiting from Bud Fox's theft of company documents. That overlay of evil seemed quite contrived to me. It struck me that a man as successful as Gekko would not have to resort to such stupid tactics. Even if he wasn't ethical, he would not be so stupid as to incriminate himself so easily.

The fact that the movie's writers could not allow Gekko to simply be a good and competent financier is telling of the state of our culture. The fact that this movie was so popular, when its hero was so imperfect, also shows how desperate and receptive Americans still are for true business heroes. Americans got it, that success is good and that throwing out bad company managements which Gekko did is good. They got it when Gekko said, "Greed is good."

It sounds like you might not have read The Fountainhead. I encourage you to read it and Atlas Shrugged. In those books you will see fictional depictions of truly great business heroes, the likes of which have never appeared in any movie (although they walk and walked the earth around us in America, both past and present).

As for the other questions you ask, ask the first one again (Is capitalism moral?) after you have read Atlas Shrugged. For your other two questions, other threads on this forum may have dealt with them. On the antitrust issue, I recommend the book, Abolition of Antitrust, edited by Gary Hull, and any of the books by the economist Dominick Armentano, as well as an article on the topic in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. Ayn Rand has commented on antitrust fairly extensively.

I have read all the major Objectivist books, novels, movies, etc. except the Ayn Rand newsletters from the 60's. I don't see how Gecko's character goes against any of it, really. Stock trading really is real work and it is a profession. It's purpose is to make a profit by directing money to the places it is needed most, to create things by financing people who have great ideas that are making great products. It does that by shifting money away from people who are bad businessmen or making inferior products.

Stock trading is real, just like computer programs are real. Real electrons flowing through real circuits using real logic thought out by real minds making real life actions that make real money!

This is all I want to argue on this point right now, I've got to do my tax returns! :lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with your assessment of the validity of stock trading. Furthermore, it takes a conceptual thinker to understand that point. Because stocks are not directly tangible, although the physical goods they represent are, some people cannot see the value that is created by Wall Street. As a result, some people say they value the activities of doctors or inventors more highly because they are directly helping people. Of course they are, but the fact that their work is more obviously tangible does not make it more valuable. In fact, if one wants to rank professions on the good they create, you would have to put inventors and high-order capitalists at a higher level than doctors or mechanics or lawyers, in terms of the number of people positively affected by their actions. Ayn Rand has made the point so well, that businessmen are the great benefactors of mankind. The capitalists direct capital to the most productive businessmen. Stock investing is part of that process.

As for Gordon Gekko (correct spelling is "Gekko"), he is largely good, but the movie did show him colluding in a theft of company documents, and gaining through subterfuge. So, he is not an untainted ideal character. As I said in my post, I think the movie's writers did that deliberately because they could not countenance a good Wall Street financier. Despite the taint they put on him, they also gave him a great speech where he condemns those who extol incompetent company managements and they also gave him that great line, "Greed is good."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I work in the stock market as a broker. Personally I'm kind of ambivalent about the entire business of stock trading. Yes, becoming a publically traded company is a good way to raise money for entrepreneurs. But a lot of stock trading revolve around wealthy people artificially inflating the price of stocks, then through deception, misinformation, insider information, or delay of information, cajole others into picking up the stock in order to essentially swindle their money. Time and time again I see major shareholders of companies doctor their books, release inaccurate predictions, or collude with brokerages, just to jack up the prices of their stocks.

I mean, yes, it is up to the average investors to do their research and decide for themselves if a company is worth its price. But it's honestly just an inherently unfair system due to the extreme imbalance in information.

As for that whole illusion of efficient distribution of capital -- it often times simply isn't true. A lot of times a company could be doing great, but be hostilely taken over and broke up into pieces and sold. A hedge fund manager often times simply isn't interested in running a healthy company. They rather just make their money right away and then do something else with it. As it stands there is already a huge division in opinion of whether huge financial conglomerates like private hedge funds are really actually beneficial to the economy, since often times they behave more like looters than investors.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've never seen Wall Street. Overall, I stay away rfom Stone's films.

But if you care for a positive portrayal of business, as well as determined characters who strive to succeed, there are two good 80s comedies out there: "Working girl," with Melanie griffith and Harrison Ford; and "The Secret Of My Success" with Michael J. Fox and Helen Slater.

I haven't seen "The Pursuit Of Happyness" yet, but I intend to as soon as it comes out on video. I missed it when it was in theaters.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you liked Wall Street, I would recommend the movie "Boiler Room", starring Giovanni Ribisi and Vin Diesel, among others. It's a modern take on some of the things that happens in the stock business. Doesn't take place on Wall Street, doesn't have any characters that's as glamorous as Gordon Gekko, but it's a well written script with some great lines and solid actors.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Scattered comments:

I haven't seen the movie, but Gekko's slogan "Greed is good" is clearly meant to be self-evidently evil. Anyone who had an unalloyed positive reaction to it strikes me as a bit clueless!

A gecko is a lizard.

"Roark" has no "e" in it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I haven't seen the movie, but Gekko's slogan "Greed is good" is clearly meant to be self-evidently evil. Anyone who had an unalloyed positive reaction to it strikes me as a bit clueless!

See the movie.

In the context of the movie, "Greed is good" is good. The statement comes at the end of a speech where Gordon Gekko defends his actions in taking over a company and throwing out its incompetent management.

Speaking generally, greed, understood as an intense pursuit of one's values, is good. Greed, meaning hurting others in order to benefit oneself, is bad. Greed is a package deal concept that mixes together a good and bad meaning. That is why it is a great derogatory word that allows one to sneak in an attack on rational selfishness while pretending to just attack those who would hurt others in order to help themselves.

Greed is just a somewhat more pejorative version of another word, selfishness. Ayn Rand worked hard to rescue that word from its package deal meaning that is quite similar to greed. Before she did that, there was no single word that simply conveyed: pursuit of one's rational self interest. We need a similar word to refer to the benign act of aggressively pursuing one's values. Greed is often used in that way: greedy for life, greedy for air, etc., but largely it is used in a derogatory manner.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the context of the movie, "Greed is good" is good. The statement comes at the end of a speech where Gordon Gekko defends his actions in taking over a company and throwing out its incompetent management.

But if he's presented as evil generally, a "lizard"--and by Oliver Stone, no less--and the word "greed" is used without any elaboration, I have to question whether the takeover is being presented as good.

If you can convince me otherwise, I'll try to see the movie. But I need a lot more convincing than this!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I work in the stock market as a broker. Personally I'm kind of ambivalent about the entire business of stock trading. Yes, becoming a publically traded company is a good way to raise money for entrepreneurs. But a lot of stock trading revolve around wealthy people artificially inflating the price of stocks, then through deception, misinformation, insider information, or delay of information, cajole others into picking up the stock in order to essentially swindle their money. Time and time again I see major shareholders of companies doctor their books, release inaccurate predictions, or collude with brokerages, just to jack up the prices of their stocks.

I mean, yes, it is up to the average investors to do their research and decide for themselves if a company is worth its price. But it's honestly just an inherently unfair system due to the extreme imbalance in information.

As for that whole illusion of efficient distribution of capital -- it often times simply isn't true. A lot of times a company could be doing great, but be hostilely taken over and broke up into pieces and sold. A hedge fund manager often times simply isn't interested in running a healthy company. They rather just make their money right away and then do something else with it. As it stands there is already a huge division in opinion of whether huge financial conglomerates like private hedge funds are really actually beneficial to the economy, since often times they behave more like looters than investors.

Moebius, in response to your grab bag of criticisms, I can only say one thing: you're wrong. It could be that you work in one of those boiler rooms as depicted in the movie "Boiler Room". I would certainly not recommend it as a vision of an ideal. Quite the opposite. Nor are such boiler rooms representative of the broad workings of Wall Street, just like a quack doctor does not represent the essence of the medical profession.

As for capitalism and the stock market, I cannot and would not even try to defend it in a blog posting. There are plenty of sources on the topic, beginning with Atlas Shrugged and extending to the many good books of business history and economics that describes what capitalists have done in the distant past right up to the present.

I would make one observation, though. Karl Marx sees capitalism and capitalists as the apotheosis of evil, the system that exploits the common man. Most college professors of history and journalism have either explicitly or implicitly absorbed such a view of capitalism. Using that lens they learned in college, wouldn't a journalist focus with laser-like intensity on every real and imagined instance of corporate malfeasance and stock market fraud? What about all the other examples of value-creating business activity and successful, value-creating stock offerings? Those stories don't make headlines, for good reason. Those are not stories to someone who is looking to ferret out and draw attention to the alleged evils of capitalism.

I would recommend observing with your own eyes in an empirical fashion the nature of business deals and stock offerings that occur. All of them, not just those that make the papers. I would also recommend reading what economists say about the workings of today's mixed economy. To what extent is a certain behavior a feature of free markets, and to what extent is it a (typically unforeseen) consequence of regulation? Another piece of your analysis might be to look at other professions and count instances of malfeasance. Bad behavior occurs in all walks of life. Does Wall Street really display "more evil" than other professions, or is it merely that Marxism-influenced journalists harp on it? Finally, from an economic theoretical perspective, ask yourself why people would choose to participate in a market if its essence is thievery and dishonesty. Why would investors buy stocks? Why would companies raise money in the stock market? Why would they do this over and over again, as they have for more than 100 years (and producing an approximately 8%-9% compound annual return for investors over that period of time)?

As Ayn Rand would say, check your premises, and check your facts. Have you properly generalized to form your conclusion? Finally, if you do all that and still think it is a corrupt profession, ask yourself why you keep working in that industry (unless you share Gary Brenner's argument in another thread that it is okay to be a looter).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the context of the movie, "Greed is good" is good. The statement comes at the end of a speech where Gordon Gekko defends his actions in taking over a company and throwing out its incompetent management.

I've seen the clip of that scene. As I recall, he says something like "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good." Doesn't that change the intended meaning as well?

In literature the author can fail to pass along his intended meaning to the audience. Therefore you end up with a designated bad guy the audience likes. Almost always this is the author's fault. In movies it happens all the time. Remember how many people liked Hannibal Lecter in Silence of The Lambs?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've seen the clip of that scene. As I recall, he says something like "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good." Doesn't that change the intended meaning as well?

Ah, that's better, and that would sway me a bit. Perhaps Stone, or one of the script writers, was ambivalent.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've seen the clip of that scene. As I recall, he says something like "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good." Doesn't that change the intended meaning as well?

In literature the author can fail to pass along his intended meaning to the audience. Therefore you end up with a designated bad guy the audience likes. Almost always this is the author's fault. In movies it happens all the time. Remember how many people liked Hannibal Lecter in Silence of The Lambs?

Both are good points. In fact, the exact quote above makes the meaning clear, that "greed" is being used in the good sense.

On your second point, although Oliver Stone is no friend of capitalism, he manages to convey the legitimate excitement of Wall Street and much of its legitimate function. That is what the audience responded to in Wall Street. Whether Oliver Stone intended to do that or not, it is what he actually accomplished in the movie.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Both are good points. In fact, the exact quote above makes the meaning clear, that "greed" is being used in the good sense.

Here's the exact quote according to the Internet Movie Database:

[..]I am not a destroyer of companies. I am a liberator of them! The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.

On your second point, although Oliver Stone is no friend of capitalism, he manages to convey the legitimate excitement of Wall Street and much of its legitimate function. That is what the audience responded to in Wall Street. Whether Oliver Stone intended to do that or not, it is what he actually accomplished in the movie.

You can put the "blame" on naturalism. A measure of it has crept into movies and refuses to come out. I mean people expect movies, which are fiction, to reflect the current reality. Thus you have the CNN scenes in "Contact," and stuff like that. On the other hand, the expectation of "realism" also compels movie-makers to portray things accurately. Therefore from time to time you get a reflection of things like the excitement of Wall Street in movies intended to damn capitalism.

I'm not saying the motives are good, but sometimes the results are.

And there are other possibilities. Some writers try to make the case for their evil characters, or at least to present their side. This isn't a bad thing. But if done accurately, thigns you may not intend to show will nevertheless show. So be sure to know your characters first!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[..]I am not a destroyer of companies. I am a liberator of them! The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.

Well, I must say, that's a wonderful speech, and I am almost fully convinced. I need one more question answered: How does the story end? Are Gecko's ideas and actions shown to lead to good results, without any drawbacks?

In other words, what's the movie's bottom line on this issue? What point of view gets the last, all-pervasive word?

Edited by radn
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I must say, that's a wonderful speech, and I am almost fully convinced. I need one more question answered: How does the story end? Are Gecko's ideas and actions shown to lead to good results, without any drawbacks?

In other words, what's the movie's bottom line on this issue? What point of view gets the last, all-pervasive word?

Well, my view is that the end of the movie has a lot of problems. I am criticizing Stone, precisely because he sees evil in a place where it really is not there. Replace the word "greed" in the speech, with "selfishness". Does the movie's tag line suddenly go from immoral to moral? I liberals would say no, of course, because they HATE selfishness and will use FORCE to eliminate it! The point is, Stone doesn't hate greed. He hates selfishness also!

What if the deals had gone bad and Gekko had lost his shirt on Teldar paper? Would anyone have given him his money back? Of course not, because they're just as greedy as he is! What if some wealthy investor screws up his manipulations of a stock and instead a lot of people gain from his loss, such as what happened to Ted Turner? What if Martha Stewart's hot advice to dump her stock turned out to be some sort of deception? Whoa, you think that never happens? Was Larry Wildman a good guy, as portrayed, when he earlier layed off a bunch of people after a takeover? What happens when a Gekko goes broke? That's what Rand's analysys of Capitalism was all about. If you don't want to take risks, don't buy stocks!

Was Stone himself greedy for making money by making a movie? Did anybody ever consider if maybe he is a Gekko himself and scammed his entire audience? Did he give all his profits away to charity, because greed and selfishness is bad? Did he make the movie NOT to make money? Of course not.

Stone's view of Wall Street is, in my view, like this: "Small investors shouldn't invest in stocks trying to make money, they should go work at Blue Star, get old, and have a heart attack fixing jets for Stone to go fly around in".. Ta Dam! I bet Stone has a TON of stocks. Even an off shore trust account or two! Where is an investigative journalist when you need one!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Moebius, in response to your grab bag of criticisms, I can only say one thing: you're wrong. It could be that you work in one of those boiler rooms as depicted in the movie "Boiler Room". I would certainly not recommend it as a vision of an ideal. Quite the opposite. Nor are such boiler rooms representative of the broad workings of Wall Street, just like a quack doctor does not represent the essence of the medical profession.

No, I don't work in a boiler room. But I do work in Taipei, and not on Wall Street. And I certainly don't consider the situations I described the norm, although it does happen on a frequent basis.

It's just a fact that the people on Wall Street are experts at fleecing and taking advantage of ignorant people. Look to the Savings and Loans scandal in the late 80's as a serious example of how a few firms on Wall Street can single handedly bleed the nation for something like USD$150 billion (most of which ended up subsidized by the US government) and caused the huge government deficit and the recession of the early 90's.

And I'm not even talking about the morality of what they do, which I guess can be argued either way. But they can and do do real damage to the economy. I'm not criticizing capitalism, or the stock market itself, but rather the way large financial institutions practice their craft.

A larger problem that's more relevant perhaps to the current financial market is the existence of hedge funds, who are private, oftentimes unregulated, and lack transparency, yet commands absolutely enormous amounts of capital. Their existence pose potential systemic risks to the market due to their sheer size and often risky strategies when combined with the fact that they're notoriously difficult to regulate. They are also able (and often do) to practice insider trading in a virtually undetectable fashion. If you honestly think I'm wrong about what I said about the deception and misinformation regularly practiced by large financial entities, look no further than the 2006 investigation by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee into the links between hedge funds and independent analysts. It's a real problem, and it can have a serious effect on a capitalist society.

I agree that you shouldn't base your opinion only on the things you read in the papers. But keep in mind that these things are generally extremely hard to prove in the court of law given the global nature of today's financial market, and for every actual investigation you read, there are many, many more cases that are simply not practical to prosecute due to the difficulty of gathering evidence. There are simply too many things I observe on the job that are completely inexplicable unless some sort of collusion (between large financial institutions, analysts, and/or the corporation themselves) was involved. And I mean, this is discounting the really obviously illegal stuff like Enron or WorldCom.

If you continue to deny the prevalence of the corruption within the system or the problems it poses, then there really isn't much that I can say to convince you. Take my words for what it is and make up your own mind about what the market is really like. These are just the sort of things I see based on my own experience working in the field.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A larger problem that's more relevant perhaps to the current financial market is the existence of hedge funds, ...
Today, only people with $1 million in invest-able capital can invest in hedge funds. I would like to see this limit removed. The vast majority of hedge funds are run by competent managers. Typically, they're people who did well as mutual fund managers or some related profession, and decided they wanted to have more flexibility, less regulation and a % of return.

The real problem is not the hedge funds, but the government's apparent willingness to shore them up if they run into trouble (as happened with "Long-Term Capital Management" -- talk about a name that was the opposite of what they were doing!). That implicit government guarantee is what creates the so-called "moral hazard". Now, the government is starting to regulate them more. In particular, pension plans, including government employee pensions are investing in hedge-funds -- and usually insist that they will do it only if the hedge-fund agrees to certain additional SEC regulation. The SEC regularly checks up on such hedge-funds.

Of course there are corrupt people and incompetent people in business. Small-investors who cannot tell the good from the bad with some degree of confidence ought to put their money into CDs. Then, if business really wants that money, it will figure out ways to reassure the small-investor.

The S&L debacle is another example of the government guaranteeing something it ought not to guarantee, and basically telling the consumer not to worry about the risks, because he's covered by tax-payer funds if things go really wrong.

The current trend in the U.S. is for money to move into "private capital". That's the paradox of regulation. At some point, some smart billionaires say: "to hell with the small shareholder, why do we need him?" Having him around provided some extra capital, but it also brought government regulation (Sarbanes Oxley is only the latest) and shareholder lawsuits. So, the current trend to take companies private in order to run them well. [Needless to say, even within this group of "private capital" companies, there are a few corrupt and incompetent ones; but it's caveat emptor unless they really do something fraudulent.]

In summary, government regulation has created an environment where individual investors have a false sense of security when investing. In the short term, this makes more money available for investment. However, in the long term, it reduces the need to the small investor to be discriminating. The net effect is that the investor who is discriminating picks up part of the tab for the non-discriminating one.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Softwarenerd, you hit it right on the head. However I have to point out that given the global nature of today's financial market, it would be extremely hard for any single government to investigate or regulate a financial entity like a hedge fund. There are simply too many ways for the fund manager to evade detection of any wrong doing or hide their assets. For a free market to work, it first requires an open access to information, which simply isn't possible given our current system. On top of that, the risk of moral hazard increases as the amount of money to be made increases.

Another thing I'd like to comment on is your observation of the elimination of small investors. Given the absolutely enormous wealth discrepancy world wide (and even in the US), the top 5% of the world's population can supply virtually all capital needs from any individual company. It's simply faster, easier, and cheaper for a company to get funding through private channels than to go through a public bank. The problem with lowering the entrance fee for investing in hedge funds is that there isn't really any incentive for the fund managers to do so, due to the increased transaction cost. The uneven wealth distribution is really the root of the problem.

Again, I'm ambivalent on this point. On one hand I believe in capitalism and a free market, on the other hand the alarming rate at which the wealth gap is increasing can do some serious damage to the very system that I believe in. Imagine a world where an average person has to work his entire life just to cover food and rent, and the few innovative and enterprising individual has to borrow so heavily from the wealthy that they are essentially just creating and producing to fatten the rich. It'd be different if wealth wasn't inheritable. But the fact that it is means that there will be an entirely class of people that have no incentive to produce anything, and simply compound their wealth by hiring others to roll their money around and end up owning everything. Well -- I guess that's how the world already is, only worse.

I mean, right now I can make more sitting on my butt counting interest rates off of a million dollars in the bank than most families in the US. Now picture a world where I just sit on my butt all day, and whatever business venture or invention you come up with, because you used my money to create or produce it, I end up owning all of it. That's not really the world I have in mind when I think of capitalism.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Moebius, claiming you are for capitalism and actually being for it are two different things. You are not for capitalism. I suggest reading Ayn Rand's article, "What Is Capitalism?" This is a website for discussion of Objectivism after all.

If you have read it and still believe you are for capitalism, I would kindly suggest you consider that the following ideas you espouse are inconsistent with capitalism:

* the idea that an inequality of wealth is unjust

* the idea that regulation is necessary

* the idea that large concentrations of wealth are somehow harmful

* the idea that inheritances are wrong and should be outlawed

* the idea that a free market requires some mandated minimal levels of information disclosure

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Moebius, claiming you are for capitalism and actually being for it are two different things. You are not for capitalism. I suggest reading Ayn Rand's article, "What Is Capitalism?" This is a website for discussion of Objectivism after all.

If you have read it and still believe you are for capitalism, I would kindly suggest you consider that the following ideas you espouse are inconsistent with capitalism:

* the idea that an inequality of wealth is unjust

* the idea that regulation is necessary

* the idea that large concentrations of wealth are somehow harmful

* the idea that inheritances are wrong and should be outlawed

* the idea that a free market requires some mandated minimal levels of information disclosure

I think he may just be confusing the causes of the poor results of the worlds current mixed economies (decreasing middle class, increasing wealth disparities,etc).

I gather that he is, in fact, for capitalism but is mistaken in that he suggests those government fixes for government created problems.

Moebius, reconsider to what extent extreme wealth accumulation, in the US for example, is the natural result of capitalism. Consider whether heavy taxes on the middle and upper middle classes which are transferred to large companies in the form of, say, direct subsidies or the building of facilities, might be more responsible for the problems you reference.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Moebius, the reason all of these positions you espoused are inconsistent with capitalism is because they violate one's right to property. The base of capitalism is the right to life and the right to property (which is a corollary of the right to life). That means you have the right to do what you want with your property, without forceful interference from any other individual or government. That means you can accumulate as much property as you wish (through trade, not force), you can disclose whatever information you wish to the people you do business with, you can bequeath your money to whomever you wish, no one can proscribe how you can use your property (i.e., regulate you), etc.

In terms of your dealings with other people, under capitalism you trade with other people. You exchange values that you produce voluntarily for values that other people produce. Force and fraud are outlawed as means of engaging with other people. That doesn't mean that some people won't steal or commit fraud, but it does mean that such actions are outlawed and will be prosecuted.

That is an extremely short summary of the essence of capitalism. Ayn Rand says it better, and more completely, in her writings, which I refer you to.

As for some of the examples you give, such as the savings & loan crisis, I will simply say that as a general principle, all major disturbances in the workings of the market are the result of government interventions. Government interventions which often are ostensibly made to solve problems, only create unforeseen problems. That was true with the S&L crisis, and was true of every other alleged crisis of capitalism, such as the Great Depression. However, before looking at such details, it is important to understand the basic question of "What Is Capitalism?" Thus, my recommendation of that article as a starting point.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...