Financial History Issue 127 (Fall 2018) | Page 15

6 5 EDUCATORS’ PERSPECTIVE profits. Government regulators either failed to notice or simply ignored abusive behavior in real estate, banking and finance. Furthermore, government policies encouraging home owner- ship, while well intended, encouraged extreme misbehavior in the mortgage markets. The cost of all these misdeeds was enormous. Critics did not hesitate to unfairly characterize capitalism as the primary cause of the Great Recession. The Occupy Wall Street movement reflected growing dissatisfaction with capitalism in the Great Recession’s aftermath. Although this movement has largely dissipated, skepticism about capitalism continues unabated as seen in the surprising strength of Senator Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign and the rising popularity of congressional candidates, such as socialist Alexandra Ocario-Cortez. The great promise of capitalism has been demonstrated time and again in the lives of countless individuals who have been lifted out of poverty into a standard of living never before seen or imagined prior to its advent. Capitalism is not a perfect economic system, and it has been abused by unscrupulous participants with great regularity. However, it encourages and rewards hon- est initiative and innovation and requires minimal governmental oversight. In order for capitalism to survive, we must reexamine and affirm the important ethical standards and norms under which businesses operate, we must recommit ourselves to principles that protect private property, we must support laws that reflect those standards and principles, and we must ensure the fair and proper enforcement of those laws. The alternative is to sink into an eco- nomic malaise that all too often ends in despotism and tyranny. More importantly, the benefits of capitalism must be taught without bias in our educational system. For far too long our children have been indoctrinated with the false belief that the evil capitalistic system makes the poor poorer and the rich richer. The good news about capitalism doesn’t make for dramatic headlines, but the evidence is everywhere around us. We need only to stop and examine the facts.  Brian Grinder is a professor at Eastern Washington University and a member of Financial History’s editorial board. Dr. Dan Cooper is the president of Active Learning Technologies. 7 Sources Cassidy, John. “The Price Prophet.” The New Yorker. 75, 44. 2000. McCloskey, Deirdre N. Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2010. Novak, Michael. The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism. Latham, Maryland: Madison Books. 1991. Rosling, Hans, Ola Rosling and Anna R. Rönnlund. Factfulness: Ten Rea- sons We’re Wrong About the World—and Why Things Are Better Than You Think. New York: Flatiron Books. 2018. 8 Voltaire. “Tenth Letter: On Commerce,” in John Leigh, ed.: Philosophical Letters or, Letters Regarding the English Nation. Indianapolis, Indiana: Hackett Publishing Co. 2007.  |  Fall 2018  |  FINANCIAL HISTORY  13