Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Book Review: 'Capitalism for Democrats: Why the Country Needs it Now' by Martin Lowy

Capitalism for Democrats by Martin Lowy

‘All human institutions are imperfect’ 

New York author Martin Lowy earned his degrees from Amherst College and Yale School of Law and has practiced corporate law with an emphasis on banking and securities law. He has represented both private firms and governmental firms, and has taught graduate banking at Boston University Law School. Martin has also served as a senior bank executive and founded a high – tech sports simulation company. His five books adroitly cover subjects from economic issues to education issues.

Martin’s style of writing is rich in solid and well researched facts and yet delivered in a near conversational manner: the tone of the book is rich in information shared with insights that magnetize the reader. For example, in his Preface he states, ‘“Capitalism for Democrats” is nonsense, some of my Republican friends say. Democrats are socialists, they say. Well, I don’t think so. It is true that the Great Recession and Great Financial Crisis of 2007-09 revealed defects in capitalism that have persuaded many Democrats—and particularly young Democrats—to reject capitalism as the proper foundation for America’s economic system. Those reactions are understandable. And if the choice is between a Trumpian crony capitalism or a “free market” capitalism on the one hand, and some other, apparently fairer, economic system, maybe called socialism, on the other hand, maybe it would be right to reject capitalism. Fortunately, those are not the only choices. There is a capitalism that works to the b Democrats—have not been exposed to the sound moral and philosophical bases for that kind of capitalism… This little book asks Democrats to take a few hours out of their busy lives to consider what capitalism has accomplished, what it can accomplish, why it has a moral basis, and why it is in the best interests of the nation to continue to be our governing economic theory—but properly aided by laws and regulations that protect consumers and workers and the competitive markets through which they speak…’

What follows is one of the finest explanations of Capitalism available! By combining insights with anecdotes and historical references, Martin opens an exploration of not only the economic definitions and variations of capitalism, but also a overview of the difficulties and defects of capitalism, a fine discussion of that often misunderstood term of Socialism – its impact on governance, mindsets, ethics, and social issues – and a survey of ‘European democratic socialism’ that deserves close attention! 

In his inimitable manner Martin suggests, ‘It is usual to credit the building of America to vast land and natural resources and the resourcefulness of the American people (who came from all over). Credit also should go, however, to a third pillar of American success: the invention of the general business corporation law and, with that, the development of the most extensive capital markets in the world. It is those business developments that enabled American enterprises to build railroads across the country, create companies that manufactured myriad products, and enabled people to invest in those kinds of enterprises… The first pillar of American success is the abundant land bounded by two oceans. The second pillar of American success is the immigrants who mostly came from across those oceans. The third pillar of American success is capitalism.’

This is an accessible, informative, and pungent overview of capitalism, and given the current tenor of political discourse inevitably available on the social media, this book provides a foundation of reason that is indispensible! Highly recommended for all readers

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.