Francisco Dao, founder of 50 Kings and columnist for Pando Daily wrote a column titled "Looterism: The Cancerous Ethos That is Gutting America."
What a bold column title, certainly something interesting or profound must follow? Unfortunately, no.
Capitalism is supposed to be a system that rewards people for creating value, but it has been perverted into “Looterism,” where the mantra of maximizing one’s self interest is spoken like an incantation, and people believe that this is the only thing that matters. In the transformation from capitalism to looterism, our economy has mutated from one that believes in “private benefit from value created” to simply “private benefit, regardless of damage.”
Putting self-interest (greed or whatever you wish to call it) above creating value is bad for America. Great. This is a reasonable position hardly anyone can argue against. The problem is Dao defines and asserts NOTHING to move the argument forward.
What is self-interest? What examples can we provide? What is being damaged?
Why is self-interest bad? Does Mr. Dao get up for work in the morning for the betterment of human kind or is he motivated by his own self interest (to feed and cloth and house him and his family for example)? I doubt Mr. Dao works for free, so he must work for his own self-interest. If self-interest isn't inherently bad, can it be corrupted? If so, how?
Mr. Dao provides a small hint but fails to explore this problem any further. He writes,
It has turned us into a nation obsessed with the measure of wealth but with no regard as to how said wealth is acquired [emphasis added]. In a looterist nation, a bailed out banker fat from the trough of graft and public funds is held in the same regard as an entrepreneur who made her fortune creating a product that improves people’s lives.How wealth is aquired is a very important distinction. If it is aquired by free and open competition, great! If it is aquired by force, then bad!
Self-interest bounded by free market competition and volunteerism would then be good. Self-interest exploiting the monopoly of government power must be bad. This is an excellent conversation that needs to be explored further rather than condeming capitalism and self-interest wholesale.
I've asked for clarification and maybe he'll respond. In the meantime, I suggest reading Milton Friedman's essay on social responsibility for free-enterprise. Friedman's intelligent and well reasoned answer is that corporations have only one responsibility in a free market: to make a profit. Of course, Friedman reasons this is only good in an open market (the invisible hand), not one dominated by the strong and very visiable backhand of government.