Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Dark Side of Capitalism

Don't misunderstand the headline.  I'm a free enterprise kind of guy.  I am, as I keep saying, a Christian, conservative, libertarian, capitalist.  It is the first trait that holds the last two in balance.

Socialism and what I call, 'unfettered' Capitalism, have this in common; they are overseen by bullies.  With Socialism, the bully is Big Government.  The Govt wields its might, taking what it wants, from whomever it wishes without remorse, doling it out in measure to those it deigns worthy, while taking the lion's share to feed it's own ever growing appetite ("feed me, Seymour, feed me").

Capitalism, without moral grounding, has corporate greed as it's taskmaster.  Giant corporations and their tycoons forcing their will upon others, without concern for anything other than profit alone.  A moment arrives when the drive for profit exceeds interest in either customer or employee.  "Humanity be damned! Feed me, Seymour, feed me."

For those of us more conservatively inclined, we find it easy to point out the sins of Socialism.  We shout "Danger" from every rooftop, pulpit and soap box we can find.  I have little problem with that.  Socialism, if allowed to bloom, will poison our future.

But the liberal is not without argument when decrying Big Business.  A case in point is right out of today's headlines:  Rupert Murdoch and his ilk have targeted Amazon's pricing of Kindle Books because it is undermining their profits. They are demanding a new pricing model.  Never mind that somehow the Kindle has people reading again.  Never mind that real books may benefit from 'trickle down economics'.  Yeesh.

I meet people almost every day, who say, "I love my Kindle. I've read more books since I got mine that I've read since I got out of school."  And they do it because, a. the Kindle is cool.  Never underestimate the wow factor of a product.  And because the books are priced at the consumer's sweet spot.

Mr. Murdoch is not a fool.  He didn't become a corporate giant by idiocy.  But if they push this too far, and trust me, it won't be hard to do, and people will quit buying and reading again.  Society will be better off for that, how?  He won't care.  He will have crushed the competition and regained market share.

I love my Kindle.  I have always been a reader.  But I read even more because the book pricing of Kindle books makes that possible.  In fact, I have even bought several traditional ink and paper books lately, that weren't available on Kindle, but something I read in a Kindle formatted book inspired me to get it. Take the current Kindle pricing model away and I will go back to buying fewer books.  The big winner...... my local public library, where books are FREE. Rupert Murdoch doesn't care.