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A Capital Ship

Profits and losses in the history of markets.

Sep 27, 2010, Vol. 16, No. 02 • By ELIZABETH POWERS
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There is, of course, a dark side to capitalism, and it is called dissatisfaction. It is the flip side of innovation, which profits from our willingness to abandon what we loved only yesterday for a product that will probably also fail to deserve our love. Liberals have rebranded their own dissatisfactions as “critique,” which constantly demands that the supposed flaws in our institutions be corrected. These institutions, however, are the ones that gave the modern economic system its legs in the first place. It is not capitalism that is relentless but the assaults by liberals on the values that are essential if this system is to continue to thrive and enrich us all: Hard work, individual responsibility, creativity, self-discipline. As my mother used to say, some people have it too good.

Elizabeth Powers is editing a collection of essays on the intellectual origins of freedom of speech in the 18th century.

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