October 21, 2006

Capitalism and Distributive Justice

"Actual capitalism departs from well-functioning capitalism--monopolies too big to break up, undetected cartels, regulatory failures and political corruption. Capitalism in its innovations plants the seeds of its own encrustation with entrenched power. These departures weigh heavily on the rewards earned, particularly the wages of the least advantaged, and give a bad name to capitalism. But I must insist: It would be a non sequitur to give up on private entrepreneurs and financiers as the wellspring of dynamism merely because the fruits of their dynamism would likely be less than they could be in a less imperfect system. I conclude that capitalism is justified--normally by the expectable benefits to the lowest-paid workers but, failing that, by the injustice of depriving entrepreneurial types (as well as other creative people) of opportunities for their self-expression. "

Edmund Phelps, recently awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize for Economics ruminates here about the dynamics of capitalism, free entrepreneurship and social "max-min" policies a la Rawls.

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