Capitalism is Always Creative and Always Destructive too

The good and the great…the world’s biggest humbugs and brightest worthies… gathered in Davos, Switzerland last week. Even Bono was there.

They look at the big picture, of course. And they try to think of ways to make the picture a little brighter. But do you think the world is actually improved by a bunch of people drinking champagne and wondering how they can make things better — by meddling with other peoples’ plans? If so, you do not work here at Markets and Money . Our view is different. In our view, the baker does not bake for reasons of altruism or idealism. He bakes to earn his own bread. And as Adam Smith pointed out more than 200 years ago, it is thanks to his efforts to improve his OWN life that the whole world gets better. Or, as Goethe put it: “Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean.”

Still you can’t blame the policy makers, the movers, the shakers and the late-night party makers for having a good time… as long as they don’t actually do something.

Water was the big subject at this year’s confab. And here, we give the tip of the hat to Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, UN General Secretary. First, he noted, with no show of humour or awareness, that the response so far to the UN’s initiative on water sustainability had been merely “a drop in the bucket.”

Then, he went on to say that he hoped this year’s session at Davos would be as big a success at last year’s, and that “what we did for climate change last year, we want to do for water and development in 2008.”

What did Davos do for climate change last year? How did it change the climate? Did all those rich and famous people, flying all those miles in business and first, in those carbon-consuming jet airplanes…staying in those fancy, well-heated alpine hotels…and feasting on delicacies flown in from all parts of the globe – did they do any good for the world’s climate? We doubt it. But we think Mr. Ban Ki-Moon is right. This year’s Davos conference will be an equal success.

Meanwhile, we note that the idea of capitalism – the phony idea that it produces wealth automatically, that is – is alive and well among the world’s elite.

First, a team of researchers asked the ‘elite’ in 18 countries which institution they trusted. They answer: business. Not government. Not the media. Money has upstaged politics, as we pointed out earlier.

Then, Bill Gates – the world’s foremost entrepreneur and richest capitalist – spoke to the group.

“In markets where profits are not possible, recognition is a proxy; where profits are possible recognition is an added incentive,” he said.

He was proposing something he called “creative capitalism.” How that is different from any other kind of capitalism, we don’t know. In any business, there are different kinds of rewards. Some people like to run art galleries – even at a loss – because they like art. Others want to be in the film industry, because it is glamorous. And who wants to own slum properties and collect rent from drug addicts? Only people who want a high rate of return and don’t care much about prestige or personal safety.

It is discouraging to read accounts of Gates’ speech. The man seems to have spent too much time in front of a computer terminal. He said he wanted to “find a way to make the aspects of capitalism that serve wealthier people serve poorer people too.”

Either the world’s number 1 capitalist doesn’t know how much about capitalism. Or he is just another humbugger, like all the rest. He should know that capitalism serves no on in particular. It only serves those who make use of it…those who save…those who invent…those who work and improvise…

It is a moral system, as we mentioned above, serving the thrifty, the quick, the smart… It is indifferent to how rich people are…to their skin color…to the language they speak and to the flag they salute.

Capitalism is always creative…and always destructive too.

Bill Bonner
Markets and Money

Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries. A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America’s most respected authorities. Along with Addison Wiggin, his friend and colleague, Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. Both works have been critically acclaimed internationally. With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance. Since 1999, Bill has been a daily contributor and the driving force behind Markets and Money.
Bill Bonner

Latest posts by Bill Bonner (see all)

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Jeff Mowatt
Did you know Bill, that Melbourne’s own watchdog is already on to this? That’s right, the undisputed Queen of smear bloggers, Anthony van der Craats is secretly living in Ukraine. There he campaigns (anonymously of course) to stop “criminals” developing “Creative Capitalism” there. Move over Les Patterson, he’s taken charge with a team of sockpuppets who have now been barred from Wikipedia for vandalism. They figured there couldn’t be that many people living in Kharkiv with such a passion for Aussie politics. The world wants to know what he’s doing there Bill, under the guise of a NGO consultant, when… Read more »
Oh they will drink and live in gluttony , while the mases huddle in their dank and dreary tents. they will of course proclaim that the solution is at hand, but we all know what that solution really is don’t we .they are all secretly digging their under ground hide outs,in preparation of the coming cull. their answer will always be ww3 there can be no other answer for them . They only know one thing one world govt. and they will reach that goal, if they are the only ones left waving the flag when it is said and… Read more »
P-CED Review
Dear Editor, In reply to the above comment by Mr Jeff Mowatt from the UK. In reviewing your web site it would appear from reading Mr Mowatt’s comments above that he is using your site and others to promote a vendetta and is engaged in a stalking campaign against his detractors. Mr Mowatt and his business associate Mr Terry Hallman was subject to a due diligence review of their business activities in Ukraine. Both Mr Mowatt and Mr Hallman presented themselves as being directors of a successful International Economic Development Company operating out of Ukraine. Mr Mowatt and Mr Hallman… Read more »
To P-CED Review from the editor of the DR: Hey look, we published your comment too. And we encourage all readers of this comment to read both Mowatt’s comment and P-CED Review’s. We don’t have an opinion one way or another, but we do feel that people have a right to free speech and we will not remove a comment without just cause. That said, we have forwarded both Mowatt’s and P-CED Review’s comments to our legal team for review and will follow their recommended course of action when we hear back from them. But before we go… P-CED Review… Read more »
Letters will be edited for clarity, punctuation, spelling and length. Abusive or off-topic comments will not be posted. We will not post all comments.
If you would prefer to email the editor, you can do so by sending an email to