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Takes issue with recent column

To the News Enterprise:

Wes Dingman pulled on Twelve League Boots to opine on capitalism in his recent article. As often happens when stepping high and fast over a complex subject, much of essential importance is over-emphasized or overlooked depending on the writer's preconceptions.

Contrary to Wes's assertion, empathy lies at the very heart of the capitalist system. Before revenues are generated or any profit is made market research, formal or informal, must be undertaken to determine what service or product a customer wants; what he is prepared to pay for it; how, when and where he wants it delivered, and a host of other questions. In business terms, this corresponds to the "empathy" Wes speaks of. Communist economics allow for no such empathy, which is why the Soviet Union ended up with warehouses full of yellow shoes no one wanted. Private sector companies that don't have empathy and don't respond to its signals are destined to fail. So much for the general absence of empathy Wes fails to discover in capitalism.

When critiquing an institution, it is helpful to distinguish whether a perceived shortcoming is due to a flaw inherent in the institution itself, or whether it is simply a manifestation of an element of human nature. A good example of an institutional flaw is to be found in bureaucracy and the bureaucratic culture and mindset. This is awkward for a critic of capitalism to deal with because the largest and worst bureaucracies are to be found not in private enterprise, but in government which has at it's disposal a uniquely toxic combination of unlimited financial resources, police power, regulatory apparatus, executive orders, legislative mandates, etc. These are in constant use and readily available to enlarge and defend the interests of government bureaucracies and their allies.

To be sure, given the flaws in human nature, both humans and their economic enterprises need common sense laws and regulatory of oversight. But these need to be wise and as light as possible for freedom to flourish and individual initiative to maximize its scope.

There is one observation that is truly breathtaking in Wes's ruminations on the nature of capitalism. That was his casual observation that the time may have come for the world to dump capitalism for a new system. Oddly, he doesn't say what he has in mind.

Tony Moro

North Creek

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