Techdirt Podcast Episode 177: Why People Don't Trust Capitalism Anymore

from the market-based dept

The tides of public opinion on economics seem to be shifting, and criticism of the very idea of free markets is on the rise. The conversation is messy, confusing, and transcends many traditional political boundaries — so we’ve got an expert source to help us dig in. EconTalk host Russ Roberts joins us to look at why so many people don’t trust capitalism anymore.

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Comments on “Techdirt Podcast Episode 177: Why People Don't Trust Capitalism Anymore”

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9 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

informative post

well, it was a pleasant but superficial, meandering podcast that did not answer the question posed in its title. Apparently capitalism has some vaguely specified shortcomings relative to equality of economic outcomes for everybody?
The podcast participants felt that free markets and competition were basically OK but that economic system somehow failed to deliver a comfortable wonderful life for the general population. The term capitalism was never defined; it was mistakenly assumed that everybody has the very same understanding of that general term.

Peter says:

Historical Parallels

It’s an interesting topic, though I think you could have benefited from having a guest who would have articulated some of the critiques of the current market system.

I am not a historian, but I think there’s some really fascinating historical parallels between this discussion and similar arguments from a century ago. Back then, communism, socialism, and the progressive movement were a reaction to the excesses of the Guilded Age and the perception that the economy was making a few people extremely wealthy but most people were left behind. In the end a lot of prominent businesspeople got behind progressivism, both because they agreed with the moral critique, and also because they saw that if they didn’t fix some of the problems with capitalism then it was possible they could lose their wealth to an extreme form of socialism or even communism.

We are seeing a lot of the same problems reappearing today: the sense that a huge number of working class Americans aren’t benefiting from our current prosperity; the rise of predatory monopolies in markets which are becoming essential to everyday life; the difficulty for ordinary people to get ahead; the risk that one bit of bad luck can wipe out a lifetime’s worth of hard work; etc.

The real question is whether we can get behind reasonable solutions to these very real problems. The alternative may be that populist demagogues use this to stoke resentment among people left behind by our current system and (through malice or incompetence) destroy the parts of our system which do work well and produce wealth and prosperity for the nation as a whole.

John Smith says:

Dapitalism requires people to play fair. Otherwise, it’s organized crime and cronyism that rewards that which merit does not.

We don’t hire the best qualified
We don’t invest wisely (thus not rewarding good businesses)
we lie, cheat, and steal

This puts money and hands into the wrong people as surely as breeding to sexually aggressive men gives us the #metoo generation.

People who talk about personal responsibility don’t seem to like individuals who attempt to those the powerful accountable

The only way to counter this is not to fight corruption directly, but to minimize its damage, through a socialist safety net.

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