Friday, April 13, 2007

Defending Capitalism

University of Maryland professor Benjamin Barber is a very intelligent man. I read his book Jihad vs. McWorld back in graduate school, and though I disagree with him, I can understand and appreciate his arguments. Professor Barber wrote an essay for the Los Angeles Times on April 4 entitled Overselling Capitalism. In the editorial, Professor Barber essentially blames capitalism for the world's woes.

Today, in the online TCS Daily magazine, John Tamny responds with his column Underselling Capitalism. In rebutting Professor Barber, Mr. Tamny writes,
Capitalism is the villain in Barber's piece, yet capitalism has proven time and again to be the singular cure for the poor health threatening the Third World. According to the 2005 Economic Freedom of the World report produced by the Cato Institute, the nations in the top quintile of average per-capita GDP also have the highest average life expectancy; 77.7 years versus 52.5 years for citizens of countries in the bottom quintile.

Barber concludes by saying to "sustain itself, capitalism will once again have to respond to real needs instead of trying to fabricate synthetic ones." He gets it backwards. That capitalism gives people what they want means that it alone will have the wherewithal to provide the jobs, aid and medicine to those not lucky enough to live in cultures blessed by the most compassionate economic concept ever known.

It is rare in these times to read a strong defense of capitalism, and Mr. Tamny does it well. Read the whole thing. Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.

No comments: