Larry Elder

The topic: "The Future of Capitalism."

Time magazine, to discuss this, assembled a "stellar cast." One such "honoree" works as a Public Broadcasting Service/National Public Radio host. The tax dollars produced by the capitalism he criticizes help pay his salary. (The irony was apparently lost.) At least other "business roundtable" panelists -- commentator/publisher/author Arianna Huffington and singer John Legend -- make their money the old-fashioned way, by enticing consumers to buy what they sell.

"I don't think that left to its own devices," the taxpayer-supported broadcaster/pundit said, "capitalism moves along smoothly and everyone gets treated fairly in the process. Capitalism is like a child: If you want the child to grow up free and productive, somebody's got to look over the shoulder of that child." Good grief.

Every dollar spent by government is one less dollar spent by taxpayers. Money comes from somewhere -- taxes, borrowing (taxes on layaway) or printing, which, if not offset by productivity, causes inflation, a stealth tax on everyone. Who can spend, save or invest more efficiently and humanely, you or some tenured bureaucrat in D.C. who's never run so much as a hot dog stand or lent himself out as a United Way volunteer?

Private enterprise is the most proficient job- and wealth-creating "system" ever designed. But many, if not most, Americans think only government can and should build and run "infrastructure" and that government "investment" creates jobs of which the private sector is incapable of creating. Really?

People point to President Dwight D. Eisenhower's construction of the interstate highway system. It is, they say, an example of both an appropriate and productive federal government expenditure and an obviously legal role of the federal government necessary to spark economic growth.

In the early 1900s, a businessman, Carl Fisher, owned the Prest-O-Lite headlight company. He organized an association to finance coast-to-coast paved roads so that motorists could drive both day and night, ideally using his headlights. The association soon disbanded, when Congress passed the Federal Road Aid Act of 1916. What would have happened had government not built an interstate highway system? A consortium of truckers/gas stations/hotels/motels/roadside restaurants would likely have built one with their own money in order to make more money. They would have charged tolls for maintenance. Motorists actually using the roads would bear their costs.


Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com.