A recently released study by the Pew Research Center would make Ayn Rand roll over in her grave. The Russian philosopher who touted America’s laissez faire capitalism as the best economic governing model in the world would be shocked to know that nearly half of today’s Americans between age 18 and 29 view socialism more favorably than they do capitalism.
The Pew data unveiled this week shows that 49 percent of people aged 18 through 29 who responded to the survey had warm and fuzzy feelings toward socialism as an economic model. In this same group, only 46 percent felt favorably about capitalism.
This is not a surprise considering the sort of unethical capitalism that has overtaken the economy in recent decades. Many business owners and ultra conservatives who hypocritically lift up Ayn Rand’s novels as bibles fail to understand that her heroes practiced ethical capitalism and were against using others for personal gain. They championed excellence and believed in delivering quality goods and quality services for fair pay. Greed -- whether in the style of hunger for money or dominance in the marketplace -- was fine with Rand’s heroes as long as they justly earned their spots, without lobbying, deception and sacrificing others.
As Ayn Rand wrote in “The Fountainhead”:
“It only stands to reason that where there's sacrifice, there's someone collecting the sacrificial offerings. Where there's service, there is someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking of slaves and masters, and intends to be the master.”
Rand didn’t believe in slaves and masters. The dynamics of that style of capitalism has pushed many Americans to a philosophical breaking point where they are willing to abandon the concepts of capitalism as they observe the unrest of middle class and working class people through the lens of the Occupy Wall Street Movement.
Where are the true Randian heroes of capitalism who can make the system palatable to the young again? Those willing to be transcendent, competitive and yet ethical business people? For only they can save America’s legacy as the greatest economic model of all time.
It’s time for the Bernie Madoffs, the Kenneth Lays, the Bernie Ebbers, and the Lou Pearlmans -- who all adulterated their businesses with fraud, trickery and the lowest of ethics to step aside as the faces of capitalism. They were but phony mascots.
Sadly, ask many Americans and with great sadness they will lampoon capitalism and declare that these lowlifes are representative of what true capitalism is. That, my friends, is the greatest lie ever told.