Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Is Capitalism A Sin?

There was a scene in Michael Moore's 2009 documentary Capitalism: A Love Story when he sits down with a Catholic Priest and asks him if capitalism is a sin. The Priest responds saying the practice of capitalism as it is today, is a sin and is contrary to what is moral and what is for the common good. Was the Priest actually right? Is today's incarnation of capitalism immoral?

I've written about my views on capitalism before. I'm a compassionate capitalist as I say, because without the element of compassion, capitalism is unnecessarily cruel and immoral. There is new episode of Frontline on PBS about the financial crisis of 2008 when the mortgage bubble burst triggering the Great Recession and  it investigates how over four years later, there hasn't been a single prosecution and conviction of anyone involved. Many people feel that the banks involved with the mortgage crisis were fraudulently responsible for the fallout, and that top executives should have been criminally charged at the very least.

Watch The Untouchables on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Wouldn't it have been great if those knowingly responsible for the mortgage crisis were convicted and sent to jail along with your common ordinary criminals?

Bankers don't particularly score very high for me on the sympathy scale. I've worked on Wall Street before so I know their general mentality. Most of them are not particularly religious although some may say that they believe in god at some level. Opportunistic theists will seize on the lack of moral and legal accountability on Wall Street and say it's another example of the problems that are the result of our secular culture. (Although conservatives who tend to be more religious seem to be against regulation as the very thought of it conjures up nightmares of socialism.) Perhaps there are many Wall Street execs who feel that they're above the law and that they're heading banks they think that are too big to fail and too big to jail.

Some people theorize that CEOs and execs tend to be charismatic sociopaths who care not at all for the millions of lives their decisions can sometimes ruin. I think at some level there is a culture of sociopathy in the corporate world. When profit is put up so high on a pedestal, the common good down below is out of view. I don't propose invoking the fear of god and all the baggage that comes along with it as a cure, but a culture where compassion is emphasized will help reduce the problems associated with the mindless narcissistic indulgences. Legal accountability and regulation will help also.

All we really need to do is once again have an economy primarily based on producing real tangible goods and real services to real human beings along with clean energy standards, where a getting-filthy-rich-as-soon-as-possible-by-any-means-necessary mentality is avoided because its harmfulness is recognized.

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