I will stack my practical credentials as "avowed capitalist pig" up to anybody's; say, Steve Forbes. Among other things, how could one have lived in Palo Alto-Silicon Valley for three decades without "turning rabid capitalist," even if one had not been before? Likewise, today, capitalism unleashed in India and China is, I am quite certain, good for the world's prospects for some modicum of peace—and is enhancing the welfare of additional millions by the month.
On the other hand, anyone who does not believe in "market imperfections" is a loony. For instance, I believe that globalization, whatever that is, is a good thing—in fact, a very good thing. On the other hand, its impact is as messy-uneven as one would imagine, given the enormity of what's afoot. And indeed we (the Chinese and Indians at home, big time, and the rest of us, as well) must squarely address said imperfections—or pay an enormous price.
Which brings me to my point—though I'm not entirely sure what I'm trying to say. If there is anything I believe in more fervently that capitalism, it is its social twin, free speech. Hence I am inalterably opposed to muzzling ... of any sort.
But I also think that even if one is a free speech and capitalism nutter, as I am, that one can vote for the occasional dose of good taste—"manners," my Mom might have called it. Which leads me by the backdoor to the purpose of this Post. Though I wish not to muzzle, I must admit to being a little bit revolted by Saturday's Financial Times magazine, which I read in the Frankfurt airport. The issue was devoted to a single topic. The cover read: "How to spend it." (A regular feature!) I am no enemy of luxury goods—as you know from recent previous Posts, Susan gave me a Kubota 4-wheeler for my birthday. But when "one" (me) reads of the world's strife in the news section, much, if not most, of it at least an indirect product of real or perceived inequities and disaffections of some sort, "one" (me) sometimes—e.g., yesterday—wishes we, the hyper-privileged, weren't so apt to shove, de facto, our joys and toys down others' throats. It's also why I'm no fan of the new Portfolio magazine, despite excellent reporting.
I don't know how I want this Post to end. Not with a recommendation, to be sure. Just as it is, as a personal "footnote" of sorts, declaring that this certified capitalist pig feels "troubled" at times by our tendency to "flaunt it" in a way that seems distasteful ... to me. (I acknowledge, too, that it's "just" human nature—I recently read somewhere, maybe Forbes or Fortune, about the billion-dollar (!) house that India's richest dude is building outside Mumbai. Ah, well ...)
Before blogging became all the rage, Tom was posting book reviews and Observations (essentially early blog posts) to this site. You can find the archives below.
What we're talking about
on the front page.