Finally, a Republican who’s willing to defend capitalism (but unwilling to run for president)

Those who have been waiting for one of the Republican presidential candidates to offer a full-throated defense of free-market capitalism — only to see Newt Gingrich sniping at Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital, and Romney returning fire about Gingrich being a “very wealthy man” given his line of credit at Tiffany and Co. — may have to settle for an excellent op-ed from a non-candidate: Jeb Bush. (Or is he?)

Writing in the Wall Street Journal today, Bush riffs on the phrase coined by another Republican who flirted with a run at the White House next year, Rep. Paul Ryan: “the right to rise.”

Bush writes:

We have to make it easier for people to do the things that allow them to rise. We have to let them compete. We need to let people fight for business. We need to let people take risks. We need to let people fail. We need to let people suffer the consequences of bad decisions. And we need to let people enjoy the fruits of good decisions, even good luck.

That is what economic freedom looks like. Freedom to succeed as well as to fail, freedom to do something or nothing. People understand this. Freedom of speech, for example, means that we put up with a lot of verbal and visual garbage in order to make sure that individuals have the right to say what needs to be said, even when it is inconvenient or unpopular. We forgive the sacrifices of free speech because we value its blessings.

But when it comes to economic freedom, we are less forgiving of the cycles of growth and loss, of trial and error, and of failure and success that are part of the realities of the marketplace and life itself.

This is the anti-bailout, anti-cronyism, anti-overregulation, anti-”do something” mantra we need to hear from the Republican alternative to Barack Obama next year. (To those who note the irony of Jeb Bush opposing the kinds of bailouts his brother implemented as president: I didn’t miss it; I’d only point out that, as many Republicans have noted ruefully over the years, Jeb is not George.)

Finally, Bush demonstrates exactly how someone in the GOP field needs to frame the debate:

In short, we must choose between the straight line promised by the statists and the jagged line of economic freedom. The straight line of gradual and controlled growth is what the statists promise but can never deliver. The jagged line offers no guarantees but has a powerful record of delivering the most prosperity and the most opportunity to the most people. We cannot possibly know in advance what freedom promises for 312 million individuals. But unless we are willing to explore the jagged line of freedom, we will be stuck with the straight line. And the straight line, it turns out, is a flat line.

ADDED: I meant, then forgot, to note that Ron Paul of course makes similar arguments. If nothing else, I wish his arguments would prod one of the candidates riding higher in the polls to follow suit.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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187 comments Add your comment

ByteMe

December 19th, 2011
11:13 am

In short, we must choose between the straight line promised by the statists and the jagged line of economic freedom.

Ah, the binary world. 1 or 0. On or off. Left or right. Liberal or Conservative.

Simple platitudes for simple people.

Too bad the world got more complicated than that years ago.

PMC

December 19th, 2011
11:20 am

How are you supposed to get anti cronyism out of guys who have done nothing else of merit in thier lives other than politics?

All the anti establishment rehetoric has given 2 career politicians as front runners.

xdog

December 19th, 2011
11:24 am

Ron’s leading in Iowa, so it’s hard to know who’s riding higher.

Aquagirl

December 19th, 2011
11:29 am

I’m all for Jeb’s idea—when are Tom Graves and Chip Rogers going to pay that $2.2 million back? Or does “freedom to fail” mean “free to fail, because taxpayers will bail you out?”

There’s a reason you don’t see other Republicans running with this idea, Kyle. They think it sucks. They don’t want to explore that jagged line, they want to stick others with the consequences of their failures while they continue living high on the hog.

redneckbluedog

December 19th, 2011
11:41 am

Republicans had the President in a corner over the Keystone pipeline…but thanks to the Tea Party, the BIG STORY now is the infighting between Senate and House Republicans….FIGHT ON, my conservative squidbillies…You just gave the President an out..:-)….

Here we go again

December 19th, 2011
11:41 am

You nailed it, ByteMe.

Kyle, you and Jeb need to come back to reality. “Allowing people to rise” so they can “enjoy the fruits of good decisions?!!” unfortunately is NOT the result of a “do nothing” strategy. The problem isn’t that the people who make good decisions aren’t allowed to rise; the problem is that the people who make entirely selfish, greedy decisions — and break the law in the process — rarely ever actually “fall.”

Your monolithic party is as conservative as ever, and its stubborn refusal to compromise has GREATLY succeeded in pushing both the President and the dialogue of the entire country far to the right — and you say that capitalism needs a stronger defense??? I think all you lovers-of-the-job-creators need to grow out of adolescence and read a book NOT by Ayn Rand. Hell, read Ronald Reagan — you guys would brand him as a socialist today.

redneckbluedog

December 19th, 2011
11:43 am

And to my environmentalist friends (not that I expect a large audience on this blog)….They wouldn’t be building the pipeline in the first place if we weren’t running out of oil…..

Let Exxon and the Kochs have their pipeline…and then we can tax the living heck out of it by ending subsidies and letting the Bush tax cuts expire..:-)….

UGA 1999

December 19th, 2011
11:44 am

WOW, that is a great definition. I am not sure America is ready for another Bush but he hit this right on the head.

JKL2

December 19th, 2011
11:45 am

aquagirl- they want to stick others with the consequences of their failures while they continue living high on the hog.

Liberalism says,’What?”

Vote for obama. Free money for everyone!

Danny O

December 19th, 2011
11:49 am

Our “freedom to succeed” is as strong as always. “Freedom to fail” has been compromised of late, especially for large financial institutions with lots of lobbying power.

@ ByteMe:

Well said.

Jefferson

December 19th, 2011
11:50 am

Coal is old and dying.

roughrider

December 19th, 2011
11:54 am

Surely we have had enough of the Bush family.

Road Scholar

December 19th, 2011
11:54 am

So when a person knowingly takes down a system, or at least screws others based on the actions taken, their should be no regulation, no guidelines, no ramifications? Growth, whether it be personal or business, has its ups and downs, and a person pays for that based on how they are taught and what they retain and use. When it affects others directly, isn’t there more responsibility?

Kyle Wingfield

December 19th, 2011
11:55 am

Road @ 11:54: “No regulation”? Try reading the whole piece.

td

December 19th, 2011
11:56 am

Byteme and Here we go again, I see both of you on these blogs over and over again talking about how dumb Republicans are and you have to know that this is totally against all evidence. Republicans voters are way smarter than Democratic voters and it is easily proved. Just go look at voting districts that vote overwhelming Republican and the go look at the SAT scores for the same school districts. After you do that then go and do the same for Democratic districts. You will find that the children of Republicans score way higher than the children of Democratic voters.

So please stop talking about one parties voters smarter then the other because it just makes you look dumb.

MarkV

December 19th, 2011
11:57 am

What Jeb Bush wrote are platitudes that anybody can write. It is the practical implementation where the differences start. It is like one visitor here lately who wrote that he wanted no regulation of the free market, except against monopoly. Why then that one exception? Why not two, three …

If you take Jeb Bush’s words (and Kyle’s agreement) literally, then you are against any form of safety net. Really, Kyle? No exception?

UGA 1999

December 19th, 2011
11:57 am

redneck….you are right! The republicans have given Obama an “out” of the whitehouse card!! See Hussein.

The Snark

December 19th, 2011
11:57 am

JKL2: You’ve inspired me to devise a slogan for the Georgia Republican Party:

“Free money for our contributors and cronies!”

Jefferson

December 19th, 2011
11:58 am

Is he mad about borrowing money to pay unemployment bennies ? The extra premiums got him down ?

Do you have a new crush ?

JDW

December 19th, 2011
11:58 am

In general I think the piece is an extreme oversimplification that panders to those longing for the “good old days” when in fact they never even existed in the first place.

Lets pick on two of the more interesting fallacies. Bush writes,

“Are we no longer willing to place our trust in the creative chaos unleashed by millions of people pursuing their own best economic interests? ”

This is another example of the selective channeling of Adam Smith. Today’s Republicans want to glorify the myth of Darwinian economic survival (while interestingly enough refusing to acknowledge its real place…biology). The strong survive and in doing so make it good for the rest of us. Of course there is some truth to that argument. We need “creative chaos” that is created by people pursing their own economic interests. But as Smith himself clearly recognized society must set the ground rules to govern both fair play and preservation of common interests. The “creative chaos” can’t be allowed to do things like melt down the financial system because of greed, pollute the planet so that it becomes uninhabitable for future generations or stack the deck so that only the “connected” thrive. The fact is that left untended “creative chaos” for the benefit only of one’s own economic interest will eventually kill the very society it is meant to serve.

Now on to this bit,

“We either can go down the road we are on, a road where the individual is allowed to succeed only so much before being punished with ruinous taxation, where commerce ignores government action at its own peril, and where the state decides how a massive share of the economy’s resources should be spent. ”

This is specious on its face. You want to talk “ruinous taxation” go back to the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s where the top rate was 70%+ then you have an argument, even though our economic growth rate was superior in those days. A top rate of 35% to 50% is not “ruinous”. It is those that are reaping the benefits of the US environment paying the bill for maintaining that environment.

What we really need is another Eisenhower…who said among other things

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

and who understood that moderation and cooperation as a means of governance was far better than conflict and ideology.

Kyle Wingfield

December 19th, 2011
11:59 am

ByteMe @ 11:13: I’d love to hear how exactly how you think things are more complicated — and I advise you to read the whole piece before you respond, because the rest of Bush’s op-ed expressly rejects the false choice (to use one of Obama’s favorite phrases) of “a libertarian utopia” or the conditions we currently face.

Because I tend to think your dismissal of “simple platitudes for simple people” is, well, too simplistic.

td

December 19th, 2011
11:59 am

Road Scholar

December 19th, 2011
11:54 am

Even if you statement was true (and we all know it is not) then what is the alternative? The government making the decisions on winners and losers? Or could it be we have no risk taking so then in return we have no wealth?

Kyle Wingfield

December 19th, 2011
12:03 pm

JDW @ 11:58: Interesting that you would charge Bush with “selective channeling of Adam Smith,” and then choose to ignore this part of his piece:

“The right to rise does not require a libertarian utopia to exist. Rather, it requires fewer, simpler and more outcome-oriented rules. Rules for which an honest cost-benefit analysis is done before their imposition. Rules that sunset so they can be eliminated or adjusted as conditions change. Rules that have disputes resolved faster and less expensively through arbitration than litigation. “

Road Scholar

December 19th, 2011
12:03 pm

td: “Republicans voters are way smarter than Democratic voters and it is easily proved. ”

Et tu?

Kyle:’..anti-overregulation..” I guess it decides on your definition of “anti-overregulation”! Many consider ANY regulation or level of regulation as over doing it, don’t they?

sam

December 19th, 2011
12:04 pm

if jeb does decide to run for president he’ll have to change his last name first…may want to change first name too

Kyle Wingfield

December 19th, 2011
12:04 pm

Road @ 12:03: And Bush, in his piece, rejects that definition.

Stephenson Billings

December 19th, 2011
12:05 pm

According to Obama (the product of 40 years of liberal “education”) free market Capitalism doesn’t work and never has. :rolleyes:

bc

December 19th, 2011
12:07 pm

@td: First of all, the SAT isn’t the sole measure of measuring intelligence. Furthermore, don’t assume that Cobb and Gwinnett counties are the best proxies for the intelligence of Republican voters. Please also include the rural counties of Georgia and THEN run your analysis in comparison to the Democrats (if you have the courage). Moreover, if the party of Dubya and Nixon is so smart why are the so-called “red states” ALWAYS ranked near the bottom (with DC, to be fair) of national SAT rankings (and any other educational ranking)?

UGA 1999

December 19th, 2011
12:08 pm

sam…..try typing English first.

get out much?

December 19th, 2011
12:08 pm

I wonder if Jeb sent a copy of the article to his brother Neil …

Devil's Advocate

December 19th, 2011
12:09 pm

td is the perfect example of why those who receive statistical results should not be the ones to go spouting them off as if they have a full understanding of what factors were measured and led to said results.

Let me guess, national SAT scores were higher in 1980, 1984, 1988, 2000, and 2004 than in 1976, 1992, 1996, and 2008.

sam

December 19th, 2011
12:09 pm

we’ll see how much jeb hates all these regulations when little georgie the 4th gets salmenilla from his lobster dinner tonight or his breakfast filet mignon is tainted…”well daddy, we had to give those suppliers the freedom to fail”

UGA 1999

December 19th, 2011
12:09 pm

bc….you do know that your “Dubya” is something that Obama will never be……A TWO TERM PRESIDENT!

sam

December 19th, 2011
12:11 pm

i can take a lot of things, but i shall not take grammar lessons from a UGA grad….hows that buddy? typed well enough for you?

Stephenson Billings

December 19th, 2011
12:12 pm

I concur:

“The Right to Rise” – a phrase that comes from Lincoln historian Gabor Boritt, who used it to describe Lincoln’s unshakable belief that “The progress by which the poor, honest, industrious and resolute man raises himself, that he may work on his own account and hire somebody else … is the great principle for which this government was really formed.”

Say What

December 19th, 2011
12:13 pm

“This is the anti-bailout, anti-cronyism, anti-overregulation, anti-”do something” mantra we need to hear from the Republican alternative to Barack Obama next year.”

This argument is baseless. Look at the financial meltdown of 2008. It is as a direct result/consequence of lack or no regulation by both GWB’s and B.Clinton’s administration. I shudder to think what this world will look like today if the bailouts were not given to prop up the financial/automotive industries by the Bush administration. The same proponents of “Let capitalism rule” are the same people who will have their caps in hand once things go sour. You cant have it both ways. The #1 goal of capitalism/capitalists is to make a profit. If it means screwing their mothers or blatantly skirting rules designed to keep them in check- they will gladly do it without batting an eyelid.

Stephenson Billings

December 19th, 2011
12:14 pm

“Please also include the rural counties of Georgia and THEN run your analysis in comparison to the Democrats (if you have the courage). ”

Ah yes, the “dumb hillbilly/redneck” stereotype. Gotta love elitists.

UGA 1999

December 19th, 2011
12:14 pm

sam….Nope, you still couldn’t get it right. Should it be “typed” or “Typed”?

JDW

December 19th, 2011
12:22 pm

Kyle…I did not ignore that piece. I simply think that piece is inadequate. Bush is focused on “outcome based” rules in this piece and I don’t have a real disagreement with that part. We need simpler more clearly focused outcome based rules as they relate to things like patents, workplace rules etc… and I think that is what he was speaking to.

I don’t think he believes that we need stronger environmental regulations, or that warming is a problem, or financial institutions have to reigned in before they create yet another meltdown or that gambling on Wall Street creates no economic value. I think he wants to regulate everything to a “cost/benefit analysis” and if it doesn’t fit in the box it is to be ignored.

What if......

December 19th, 2011
12:24 pm

UGA 1999,

Pretty much everyday you come here and proclaim that the President will be defeated come 2012?

What if you’re wrong and the man gets reelected? Will you admit that your proclamations were premature or gear up for 4 more years of complaining?

UGA 1999

December 19th, 2011
12:26 pm

What if…..Absolutely.

Devil's Advocate

December 19th, 2011
12:27 pm

Stephenson Billing,

What’s wrong with stereotypes? Don’t we use them freely in this country for pretty much any demographic one can define?

Is a stereotype a proven fact?

Anyway, Cobb and Gwinnett are two school systems out of about 179 in the state. The point was to not use perhaps the two most successful public school districts in the state to support a political corollary.

Here we go again

December 19th, 2011
12:28 pm

td, nothing of what you said made sense. I’ll go point by point.

1. I think this is the first time I’ve ever posted something on Kyle’s blog. Perhaps someone else uses the same name.

2. I was admittedly being incendiary (heck, that’s what happens on anonymous message boards) but I wasn’t trying to say that republicans were dumb. I was trying to say that they have been ignoring some key facts about our current economic/social situation (or, more likely, dismissing these facts as fabrications by the “lame stream media”).

3. I don’t know that “smart” people necessarily make better political decisions. I know plenty of very intelligent people who are republicans; they just don’t have very high morals. Same goes with democrats.

4. If you really DID want to correlate education with voter party, as if it really meant something, trumpeting statistics about the SAT scores of voters’ children is a ridiculous way to do it. Children can’t vote. Republicans tend to be richer and can afford to send their kids to better schools. Plus, the SAT doesn’t really measure intelligence; it measures how good you are at taking the SAT.

If you really want to play that game, why don’t you use as your sample population all people who have PhDs. Then see what percentage identify as republican vs democrat.

HDB

December 19th, 2011
12:28 pm

“…… freedom to do something or nothing.”

That’s an INTERESTING choice of words: do something when it comes to protecting a crony’s interest like the oil companies….but do nothing to protect the national interest by saving the auto industry! Do something when imposing the conservative moralistic view on those who may differ in philosophy; do nothing when the hypocracy is blatently shown!! Do something to save the banks from collapsing….do nothing when your brother is caught in the middle of the shenanigans!!!

Very interesting……….

redneckbluedog

December 19th, 2011
12:28 pm

Jefferson
December 19th, 2011
11:50 am
Coal is old and dying.
—————————————
Most estimates have oil around for another 50 years….There is at least a 100 years of natural gas..but some scientists assume that natural gas will get used more when the oil runs out, so they give it 75 years….Coal will be around for 100 years…..Unfortunately, coal is very expensive to process for chemicals and we have out opinions as to coal for fuel….

You can argue these facts, give or take…but they are pretty close….

Aquagirl

December 19th, 2011
12:33 pm

.I simply think that piece is inadequate.

It’s quite adequate if you take the Obama approach of being a blank screen, and letting the reader project all their hope ‘n change onto your blankness. It’s a bunch of pablum and vague pep talk.

Out of all his complaints about ” thousands of rules” Mr. Bush the Even Lesser can’t mention one? Gosh, what a tragic unintentional oversight.

Bobsie

December 19th, 2011
12:36 pm

If truth were to be known, the logical end game for capitalism is one guy wins everything. We’re well on our way; the top 1% have 50% of it now. And you can see its effects … with money comes economic power, with economic power comes political power, with political power comes police and military power. Power corrupts; everyone eventually loses, save for one.

MarkV

December 19th, 2011
12:37 pm

The fundamental fallacy of the free market purists, which Jeb Bush pretends to be in the quotation, is that they write and talk about rewards, “the fruits of good decisions,” as if these rewards were coming from some divine source, independent of the society.

The rewards people get in a society are, or should be, in exchange of what they contribute to others, and depends to a large degree on contributions of others. Socialism is a failed economic system because it is based on the idea that these contributions as well as needs can be centrally determined. Free market is the only system we know that provides a successful mechanism for both determinations, but does not do it perfectly. The experience shows that it cannot exist without corrections, which include regulations and a safety net.

Jeb Bush in the full text of his articles (unlike in what Kyle has presented) tacitly accepts the need for some rules, but his recipe, “Rather, it requires fewer, simpler and more outcome-oriented rules, “ is again just a platitude. Who would not agree with a need for outcome-oriented rules? It is the specifics where the views of the rules differ.

UGA 1999

December 19th, 2011
12:38 pm

Bobsie….Extreme point of view, eh?

bill

December 19th, 2011
12:39 pm

Captialism doesnt equal Freedom at all, no matter how right tries to spin it.. The chinese are very big on capitalism and they arent free.