Should Governor Mitt Romney be the GOP nominee, he is going to have to defend his tenure at Bain Capital.
I for one couldn’t be more pleased to have the governor on the hot seat on this: defending his actions at Bain will require him to explain how capitalism works, why, despite its flaws, it is the best available system.
Governor Romney (or whoever else carries the standard for private enterprise over government regulation) could do no better than to read former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s “Capitalism and the Right to Rise” in today’s Wall Street Journal. Bush writes:
Congressman Paul Ryan recently coined a smart phrase to describe the core concept of economic freedom: "The right to rise."…
We have to make it easier for people to do the things that allow them to rise. We have to let them compete. We need to let people fight for business. We need to let people take risks. We need to let people fail. We need to let people suffer the consequences of bad decisions. And we need to let people enjoy the fruits of good decisions, even good luck.
Bush notes that we elect leaders who enact laws to abridge our economic freedoms. Part of this is that we don’t like to see failure, a necessary feature of capitalism. If an industry is dying, we want laws passed to save it, even if its death will make room for another venture.
Romney was good Sunday explaining how capitalism works. He admitted that sometimes there is pain—the replacement of the horse and buggy by the automobile obviously displaced harness makers, for example. But ultimately capitalism is a creative system that leads to prosperity.
This report on the Sunday show leaves out Romney’s use of the horse and buggy analogy, but this sums up the point:
That free-market system often calls for "creative destruction," [Romney] said, or the collapse of one industry in the name of progress that enriches the entire society.
"My business was not buying things, taking them apart, closing them down. My business was associated with trying to make enterprises more successful. Not always was I able to succeed, but in each case, we tried to grow an enterprise, and in doing so, hopefully provide a better future for those that are associated with that enterprise," he said.
Because we have seen an expansion of government to rival the New Deal (and this expansion had the New Deal to build upon), government vs. the market will be the key issue of 2012. As Jeb Bush puts it, we must decide between the “straight line promised by the statists and the jagged line of economic freedom.”
Capitalism includes the right to rise and the right to fail. We have to learn to accept both or the straight line will take us straight to Greece.