“Greed is Good”
Remember that line? It’s from the 1987 movie “Wall Street,” spoken by Gordon Gekko (played by Michael Douglas) it personified the populist notion of capitalist greed.
But greed is not good, and capitalism is not based on greed.
To the contrary, Capitalism encourages people to improve their lives by satisfying others’ needs and desires, by providing the products or services that other people want at a price they can pay.
Capitalism is a kind of economic democracy, where consumers vote with every dollar they spend, determining which businesses succeed and fail.
Look at the thousands of products in your local grocery store, shopping mall, or on Amazon, all vying for your attention. These products represent entrepreneurs striving to meet your needs as the way to achieve their own success.
That may not be purely altruistic conduct, since capitalism depends on the desire of people to better their own lives, but it channels that natural desire into focusing on the opinions and preferences of a broad class of consumers.
The alternative to a capitalistic, wealthy economy, is a socialistic, poor economy. Income inequality motivates people who want more money to create profitable companies.
It’s no coincidence that the Scottish economist Adam Smith wrote “The Wealth of Nations” in 1776, the same year Thomas Jefferson wrote our Declaration of Independence. Over the next 240 years, what started with 13 colonies on the eastern seaboard, grew into the most powerful economy the world has ever known.
The economic system in which we live is the best system ever devised for the poor and the marginalized. It gives them power, creates the opportunities that make them prosperous, and encourages everyone who wants to get ahead to satisfy the needs of others.
That system is currently driving a tremendous economic surge, lifting Americans from every class and race into a better life.
That system is called capitalism.