Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson in an article published on Monday proposed a solution to the GOP's "demographic problem": Create and champion a new form of capitalism that “work[s] for everyone.”
And by "work[s] for everyone," Mr. Gerson means a system where economic growth ensures prosperity for all.
While this might sound like a nice idea, talk radio host Rush Limbaugh was not impressed. Indeed, during a monologue that’s sure to agitate GOP consultants eager to give the party a facelift, the radio host stated in no uncertain terms that “capitalism doesn’t work for everyone.”
"Stop and think, now. Is that even possible? Is there a system, is there a person, is there a government, is there a place where whatever is going on works for everyone?" Limbaugh asked.
"It used to be opportunity. Opportunity is what people wanted. Opportunity is all they wanted. Just give me a shot. Just let me prove myself. Just let me have at it. Let me try to be the best I can be. Let me use whatever talents and ambition I've got. Let me employ excellence as it applies to me, as I know it," he added.
"That's out the window, and now people are demanding outcomes. And of course we have some messiahs coming along guaranteeing or promising outcomes."
“Making capitalism work for everybody is not capitalism. That is a ‘Command Economy,”’ Limbaugh explained. “Capitalism working for everybody is not capitalism, and by the way it’s not possible. There’s not one bit of proof that it can be done."
Now before consultants and "analysts" start piling on Limbaugh for admitting the reality of failure, it’s important to note that much of conservative host's monologue is identical to the philosophy of Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist responsible for rescuing the U.S. economy from the Carter administration.
For instance, when Limbaugh says capitalism can't guarantee prosperity, but that it offers the best opportunity for prosperity, he is walking directly in the shadow of Friedman. Indeed, as far as economic systems are concerned, capitalism has been the most successful in bringing prosperity and wealth to the common man.
“The record of history is absolutely crystal clear,” Milton Friedman once said during an interview on the The Phil Donahue Show.
“[T]there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free enterprise system,” he added.
Furthermore, Limbaugh, like Friedman, argues that people -- not governments -- are responsible for people.
Limbaugh's monologue centers around the idea that success can be achieved through hard work and personal responsibility. This was the entire basis of Friedman's economic philosophy:
Final Thought: Now we're not saying Limbaugh is the next Milton Friedman. What we're saying is that his monologue sounds like many of the speeches given by Friedman, one of the most successful and effective economists of the 20th century.
And maybe Limbaugh has a point. Rather than transforming the free enterprise system into something that it's not, perhaps the GOP should fight to defend it and promote it as Friedman did.
Who knows? Maybe they'll win a few elections.
(H/T: Daily Rushbo). Front page photo courtesy Getty Images. This story has been updated.