Compassionate Capitalism

One must admire the extent of compassion expressed by the captains of capitalism. Some people unfairly snickered when George Bush declared himself a compassionate conservative, but he is a passionate advocate of business and his description may have been accurate.

Despite all the talk about greed being the fuel that drives capitalism, profits are virtually irrelevant.  As an act of philanthropy, corporations scatter much of their profits in less developed areas, such as the Grand Cayman Islands and Bermuda.

As further evidence, I read today that the Bank of America is reluctant to lower the value of its own loans out of compassion for the people who stayed up-to-date with their payments. After all, one of the motives for subprime loans was to meet the desires for people who wanted enjoy homeownership.

Similarly, business opposes minimum wages out of compassion for workers who might lose their jobs. For the same reason, business reluctantly accepts tax breaks only because it allows them to help unfortunate workers who might find themselves without a boss. The same motives explain why business fights so heroically against regulation.

Cutting welfare or publicly provided health care does a service to the poor almost certainly as a university education. Finding themselves without a social safety net, people receive an education, allowing them to navigate the complexities of the marketplace, assuming that they survive the experience. Should such people meet their maker, their demise will represent a charitable gift to the poor-oppressed taxpayers, who already shoulder excessive burdens.

Taxpayers, in fact, are the most admired agents in capitalism.  If corporate leaders were more egotistical, they would be paying more taxes.  As an act of modesty, they refrain from showing off in that way, allowing others to win the glory of paying taxes.

2 comments so far

  1. Redarnie on

    Now I feel so much better to be suffering under capitalism since you have revealed that the plutocrats have sacrificed greatly on our behalf.

  2. :: Climate & Capitalism on

    […] with permission from Michael Perelman, who wrote it for his excellent blog Unsettling Economics. We would only add recognition for the compassionate capitalists who have heroically restrained […]


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