Quote of the Day from Twitter: 25 January 2009

@JoeTrippi: “Our founders loved capitalism but they believed to their core that capitalism had to serve the democracy and not the other way around.”

  • The founders did not love capitalism, because capitalism was not even a concept until halfway into the 19th century. They did read Adam Smith and have an obvious dislike of merchantilism, but that’s rather different than saying that they “loved capitalism”.

  • Tom

    The founders loved liberty and so they were anti-government thinkers who wanted to let the economy flourish based on individualism, hard work, and freedom.

    Modern scholars refer to this as Capitalism. In reality, it’s just freedom from government. Unfortunately, we have strayed irreparably far from this ideal.

  • Why, oh why, do people hang on to ideals as if they are immutable truths emanating from the mind of god? Capitalism is not some sort of basic economic law that was finally discovered one day and allowed to reveal its staggeringly obvious benevolence. It was, and is, a representation of the logical development of the economic affairs of humans, existing in congruence with our abilities to labor and communicate together; one might say “collectively”.

    And why do so many confuse economic systems (e.g. feudalism, capitalism, socialism) with political systems (e.g. democracy, monarchy, totalitarianism)? Look around, geopolitically and temporally. They get mixed and matched quite a bit. The existence of one – say socialism – does not dictate the existence of another – say totalitarianism (as so many people are prone to conflating).

    Marx predicted the natural development of economic systems as tending to move from primitive communism (tribalism) to slavery to feudalism to capitalism to socialism to communism. He believed it impossible to infer any economic model beyond those historically present or (in his concepts) inevitable as there wasn’t enough data and information available to predict how our interrelationships would change in the future and, thereby, affect how we created and exchanged goods and services.

    So . . . I would argue that, regardless of the economic system, it must serve the needs of the people (and the jury’s out on whether or not democracy as we practice it is the “best” method in which that can be accomplished.)

  • Christopher Anderson

    There is a lot wrong with this quote. First off, the United States of America is primarily a Republic, not a Democracy.

    As far as the word capitalism, it was not expressly stated but the basic foundations were understood (see John Locke) in personal and property rights.

    To actually quote a founding father:

    “Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

  • Steve Shrader

    Removing this blog from my reader after this scary and uninformed quote. Democracy was never the goal of the founders…which is why they formed a Republic restricted in scope by the Constitution. Freedom works but the temptation to make others conform to your wishes through force is too tempting.

  • Frank Ch. Eigler

    It is alarming to see a business person to portray such ignorance the role of business/capitalism in society. It is not “in service of democracy” and neither vice versa. Business is simply how free people get by in their daily lives. Democracy/whatnot is just a decision mechanism for larger scope issues that, in a free society, overlaps little with everyone’s day’s business.

  • I think Trippi’s point was that many people today (especially on the right) equate the capitalist economic system with our system of government, not realizing that the two are quite distinct.

    In a later tweet, replying to someone else who questioned his comment, he added:

    “Jefferson and Madison feared “monied factions” would try to seize power. It is why they made the people sovereign.”

    The question he was trying to address was whether or not the republic has become a kleptocratic plutocracy.

  • peter cowan

    i get what he is saying, but a somewhat unfortunate choice of words. even though (as adam mentioned) capitalism as a concept was not yet around at the time of the founders, i don’t think it would be a stretch to call jefferson an *anti*-capitalist. now alexander hamilton on the other hand-all due credit aside–it would be hard to say he feared or sided against the moneyed interests!

    china is perhaps the most efficient capitalist regime ever created. the many on the right do not realize a lot of things things.

  • Frank Ch. Eigler

    many people today (especially on the right) equate the capitalist economic system with our system of government,

    Genuine conservatives/libertarians would prefer far less coupling between the system of government and the economy. Consider which political ideologies in fact push for greater governmental involvement in the flow of goods and services.

  • “Freedom, Liberty and Pursuit of PROPERTY” was the original version. We should be free to earn property or wealth. The federal government actually has not the right of taxation according to the original constitution. The power of taxation was left the states and thus the people to decide. The states were to collect taxes as decided by each state. The federal government’s role was mainly to protect the Republic from foreign enemies. The federal government shall also have the power to make regular the commerce between states. Note the words “MAKE REGULAR”. Through a national currency commerce can be made REGULAR between the states. It did NOT mean to TAX or REGULATE!

    The quote of topic here sounds like B.S. to me and does not in anyway reflect the ideas of the founding fathers.