Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 06:15:26 AM EST
I notice that a a strawman "Capitalism", used without definition. is becoming increasingly unpopular around here. There are lots of economic set-ups that qualify as "Capitalism" - in the sense of "an economic system in which the production and distribution of goods depend on invested private capital and profit taking" (as per the OED) - and the currently ascendent version, which we'll call it Finance Capitalism - in which a capitalist system is run primarily for the benefit of financiers, is by no means a necessary evil.
The mechanisms involved in Capitalism - competition, free-markets, etc - are good tools for finding solutions to certain classes of production and distribution under the economic constraints that are in place but the solutions they will provide are determined by the constraints under which they find themselves. Left with minimal constraints, as preached by a certain class of free-market priest, the problem that the Capitalist system will solve is how to maximise the wealth of the Capitalists without regard for any costs imposed on others.
It is the job of governments, on behalf of their constituents, to set the constraints under which the tools of Capitalism work and to deal with the problems which aren't amenable to solution with those tools - not to mention ameliorating the undesirable consequences of the tools themselves.