Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Why Capitalism Isn't Going Anywhere

It's the only system known to humanity that increases both growth and freedom.

At the height of the financial crisis in late 2008 and early 2009, a wave of articles declared the end of capitalism. A half-dozen reporters writing about the issue called Allan Meltzer, who since 1957 has been teaching about capitalism at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

Five of the calls he answered. The sixth was from a reporter of Die Zeit, the German weekly, who, as Professor Meltzer recalls it, asked, “Professor, what do you think about the end of capitalism?”

Professor Meltzer replied that that was the stupidest question he’d been asked in 50 years.

The reporter hung up the phone before Mr. Meltzer got to explain why, but the fuller answer is in Mr. Meltzer’s new book, Why Capitalism?, which Oxford University Press published this week.

The book is short — just 160 pages — but its simple, clear, and direct language makes a big point: that capitalism “is the only system known to humanity that increases both growth and freedom.” As a result, far from ending, capitalism has spread to formerly socialist or communist enclaves such as Eastern Europe, India, and even China.
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