Saturday, July 10, 2010

MBAs and capitalism

A frame from Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story When I tell people where I go to school and what I'm studying, my conservative friends (and my entire family) wonder if I'm getting fed left-wing propaganda, because it's Yale, while my liberal friends assume I'm getting fed right-wing propaganda, because it's business school. I detect neither type, but then again the best propaganda isn't detectable as such.

Thanks to a spare afternoon and a Netflix recommendation, I watched Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story." As I did with "Fahrenheit 911" and "Sicko," I like these movies because they unapologetically present a viewpoint stemming from a particular ideology, which I much prefer to a pretense of "unbias" that's disguising an agenda. Everyone is entitled to his opinion, and Moore is a pretty good film-maker insofar as arousing outrage, although this was the weakest of the three I mentioned. He's not necessarily the best at being comprehensive or even logical all the time, and I'm not sure he knew what point he was trying to make here, ultimately. But that doesn't mean all his opinions should be dismissed.

Anyway, capitalism is an interesting subject, and one whose benefits and problems fill many, many books. My opinion, for what it's worth, is pretty balanced. From a logistic and pragmatic perspective, I think capitalism provides an efficient way to match buyers and sellers, resulting in higher-quality affordable things that improve our lives, and, in doing so, rewarding hard work and talent. I vaule all that. But I also have other values, like doing things for others while expecting nothing in return. There are behaviors condoned in a capitalist system that don't jibe with values such as this.

Some blame capitalism for the financial crisis, but I don't think capitalism caused the financial crisis, I believe that greed did. And greed is not borne from capitalism or any other ism. It's borne from desire, which is intrinsic. Overcoming that desire requires a certain level of enlightenment that the general public has not attained; I certainly haven't. So the key to a better world is to have values that are more important to us than money. If we can get there, it shouldn't matter what ism we adopt for our economy, although capitalism, by virtue of being efficient and theoretically self-fueled, seems like a good choice for a marketplace that will serve us.

This says it all.

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