The argument as a whole is reminiscent of wearying dorm-room debates that took place circa 1989 about whether the fall of the Soviet bloc demonstrated the failure of communism. Academic Marxists were never going to be convinced that anything that happened in the real world could invalidate their belief system. Utopians of the right, libertarians are just as convinced that their ideas have yet to be tried, and that they would work beautifully if we could only just have a do-over of human history. -- The End of Libertarianism, SLATE, by Jacob Weisberg, Posted Saturday, Oct. 18, 2008, at 6:17 AM ET
The annoying symmetry is abundantly clear to anyone paying attention. The USSR did not have true communism. The USA never had real capitalism. Ideologues are never dissuaded by facts because their theories explain facts away.
My thesis is that when businesses are managed by people who learned business management from television, public schools and state-funded universities, you cannot be surprised when those managers line their own pockets at everyone else's expense. Where I sit, I see would-be crack dealers understanding full well that selling drugs is a ticket to prison, but going into business is a ticket to live large. Ben Franklin would be appaled, of course, but he practiced a more self-disciplined business ethic. Our push-button consumerist society is 180 degrees out of alignment with the Protestant Ethic.
Right now, computer game millionaire Richard Garriott is aboard the International Space Station. His father is astronaut Owen Garriott. Richard Garriott rode into space on a Russian Soyuz/Proton and he will be returning with Sergei Volkov, whose father, cosmonaut Alexander Volkov, was one of the last two citizens of the USSR. See, this all has to do with what is inside you. Yes, some societies reward the best and others reward the worst. But above and beyond all that, it comes down to the individual. There, in space, right now, are two individuals from two different cultures, who themselves are nominally exemplars of those cultures, yet who share a commonality unperceived and unappreciated by most people in those places. Individuals who lack integrity will never make the right choices, no matter what their social milieu. Those who possess integrity will do the best they can, regardless of the social conditions.
Libertarian ideologues will excuse anything done in the name of business and blame any negative consequences on the government. As Patrick Moynihan said, "You have a right to your own opinion. You do not have a right to your own facts."
On the John Stossel show "Greed" they set up this game. People sat around a bowl of money. Take as much as you want, they were told, and I will match whatever is left. Time and again they grabbed all the loot, leaving the bowl empty. Game over. Game over. Game over. Then, you can see a clear <edit/break> and they do it once more, this time, leaving money in the bowl to be doubled so that they could continue to play. I think that after three failures, John Stossel or someone actually explained to those idiots how to play the game to their advantage. They were raised and educated to be capable of greed -- and incapable of self-interest -- and that explains the mortgage meltdown.