Nicholas Kristof on Crony Capitalism!

Dear Commons Community,

Nicholas Kristof’s column in yesterday’s NY Times dealt with the topic of “crony” capitalism.  After declaring that “I’m as passionate a believer in capitalism as anyone”, he describes crony capitalism as:

“[when] some financiers have chosen to live in a government-backed featherbed. Their platform seems to be socialism for tycoons and capitalism for the rest of us. They’re not evil at all. But when the system allows you more than your fair share, it’s human to grab. That’s what explains featherbedding by both unions and tycoons, and both are impediments to a well-functioning market economy.”

He also quotes, Lawrence Katz, a Harvard economist, who “adds that some inequality is necessary to create incentives in a capitalist economy but that “too much inequality can harm the efficient operation of the economy.” In particular, he says, excessive inequality can have two perverse consequences:  first, the very wealthy lobby for favors, contracts and bailouts that distort markets; and, second, growing inequality undermines the ability of the poorest to invest in their own education.”

He concludes:

“So, yes, we face a threat to our capitalist system. But it’s not coming from half-naked anarchists manning the barricades at Occupy Wall Street protests. Rather, it comes from pinstriped apologists for a financial system that glides along without enough of the discipline of failure and that produces soaring inequality, socialist bank bailouts and unaccountable executives.”

It’s time to take the crony out of capitalism.


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