Capitalism Without Capital

by | Jul 10, 2002

“There is no capitalism without conscience. There is no wealth without character,” President Bush told Wall Street yesterday. True. But if business owners are not smart enough to see that it’s in their own economic self-interest to be honest with their employees and customers, then they’re not going to become this way merely because Bush […]

“There is no capitalism without conscience. There is no wealth without character,” President Bush told Wall Street yesterday.

True. But if business owners are not smart enough to see that it’s in their own economic self-interest to be honest with their employees and customers, then they’re not going to become this way merely because Bush tells them to do so.

Bush, of course, is more than merely talking. In his speech, he called on Congress to immediately pass a $20 million increase in SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) funding to hire 100 new enforcement officers, and an additional $100 million next fiscal year for more officers and the technology to support them.

There’s no question that this extra funding will expand government power and put extra burdens on the majority of honest people who still keep the business world running. Exactly what can we expect it to do to punish fraud?

If a gunman opens fire in a shopping mall, we don’t respond by placing restrictions on store owners. We seek out the gunman, restrain and punish him. The same should apply to fraud. Instead, we see our government leaders — preening before the cameras with artificial self-importance — using fraud as an excuse to punish all business people.

We don’t need lectures from our President — even true lectures. We require aggressive action to punish individual instances of fraud. Beyond that, government should get out of the way. The last thing we need is another layer (or two or three layers, as Democrats like Paul Sarbanes will argue) of government bureaucracy — to serve no purpose other than to make it look like something is being done.

There’s no capitalism without conscience. But there’s no capitalism without capital either. Leave the true and honest capitalists free to produce.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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