The mail in my inbox read Dr. Andrew Bernstein of the Ayn Rand Institute will be speaking on the topic of global capitalism... I had no second thoughts. I am attending this seminar. I did not even know who Dr Andrew Bernstein was, but his affiliation to the Ayn Rand institute was more than enough to motivate me. Having read The Fountainhead, and in the process of reading Atlas Shrugged, I did not need a second invitation.
Let me tell you something. The motivation levels to attend a seminar at 7PM at the Havener Center is no joke what with the temperature tending to sub zero levels. The walk from the department to the Havener center and then back to the department chills. I was one of the thirty odd guys to be present in the hall. The talks on Capitalism was not on an economic point of view alone, but on the fact that how different parts of the world are in a better position today thanks to capitalism. He said how the Asian power houses are emerging due to the advocacy of capitalism. The per capita income shot to a new high in the last fifty years in Japan, China, India, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and many other countries. He particularly talked about the entrepreneurship friendly policy of the government of Hong Kong, because of which the number of small scale industries sky rocketed. Even in Europe, apart from Russia - mainly Stalin's policies, there were many countries whose economic growth received a staggering boost due to capitalism. Poland, on this front, reaped the benefits. Of all continents, it is Africa that has to shed its confined policies and wake up from the slumber. There were many such examples that kept the seminar going for more than an hour. At the end he concluded with, if one has to support capitalism, then there has to be the following things
- Members from one country should be able to trade with members of the other country without any restrictions
- People should speak about the positives of capitalism
- Freedom to chose what you want - If you are getting a product from a store that offers less price, one is obviously drawn to that store
At the end of the seminar, there was the Q & A session and I wasn't too surprised when there were a host of questions from the audience. One of them asked How do we draw a line to curb capitalism if it is affecting the environment? The United Nations has set up a committee and a panel of environmentalists to look into the effects of Global Warming. What about that? The reply was I believe neither the UN nor the environmentalists. Man is way below nature when it comes to inflicting the nature. We do not have the power to tamper with the laws of nature. Economic growth is in no way related to the environment. We should promote industries in a big way and environment cannot be affected by something as miniscule as that. There are more damaging issues in the world. There should be a committee that has to be set up to study the occurence of earthquakes, sandstorms and tsunamis, where millions of lives are lost every year. There were other questions Should there be government intervention on setting up of new industries to study its bane since human lives are to be given paramount importance? What should be the role of such regulatory bodies? How come USA has a huge growth since the government is not entirely capitalistic? Is it possible that the great depression in Europe could have been indirectly due to capitalism?
I would have loved it had there been an environmentalist too. That would have added spice to the seminar. It would have been a classic contest between a full fledged supporter of capitalism and an anti-industrialist(rather an environmentalist)!
Given a good time frame, there might have been lot more questions except that he had to catch a flight from St. Louis early morning the next day. He said Those of you who haven't read the Atlas Shrugged, great! It is like a virgin waiting for it. Grab a copy!
If you want to know more about Dr Andrew Bernstein, you can visit http://www.andrewbernstein.net