Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - February 8, 2015

Brian Gongol

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Please note: These show notes may be in various stages of completion -- ranging from brainstormed notes through to well-polished monologues. Please excuse anything that may seem rough around the edges, as it may only be a first draft of a thought and not be fully representative of what was said on the air.

Making economics work

A nearly-perfect economic system? This question has been on my mind this week, after reading comments left on Facebook by a friend who thinks -- and I quote -- "capitalism wants to keep us poor and wants us to blame ourselves for it." Now, this is a very dear friend, so I want to frame my response to this as though speaking to that very dear friend.

No, capitalism doesn't "want" to keep anyone poor. Quite the opposite. The nature of an economic system built upon the free exchange of money and goods and services is actually the system that most undermines the kind of poverty that has for much of human history kept people subjugated to those with other forms of power.

What system would work better? The capitalist alternative to these -- free exchange and free markets under the rule of law -- isn't a perfect system in that it sometimes does permit costs that nobody has incentive to pay (like pollution) and fails to reward some things that are very good for society but that aren't materially profitable. But as opposed to all of the other systems, it's much better to have an imperfect system (like capitalism) that gets the biggest, broadest brushstrokes right with some tinkering and patches to fix the things it gets wrong.

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