By E.J. Dionne, Jr.
May 20, 2012
In this election, we’re not having an argument that pits capitalism against socialism. We are trying to decide what kind of capitalism we want. It is a debate as American as Alexander Hamilton, Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay—which is to say that we have always done this. In light of the rise of inequality and the financial mess we just went through, it’s a discussion we very much need to have now.
The back-and-forth about Bain Capital, Mitt Romney’s old company, is part of something larger. So is the inquest into the implications of multibillion-dollar trading losses at JPMorgan Chase. Capitalism can produce wonders. It is also capable of self-destruction, and it can leave a lot of wounded people behind. The trick is to get the most out of what capitalism does well, while containing or preventing the problems it can cause.
To describe this grand debate is not to deny that President Obama’s campaign has some, shall we say, narrower motives in going after Bain. Obama’s lieutenants need to undermine Romney’s claim that his experience in the private equity business makes him just the guy to get our economy back on track.
The Bain conversation has already been instructive. Romney’s friends no less than his foes have had to face the fact that Bain’s purpose was never about job creation. Its goal was to generate large returns to Bain’s partners and investors. It did that, which is why Romney is rich.
Continue reading at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/a_choice_of_capitalisms_20120520/