in a "conversation" posted the 13th between the New York Times opinion columnists david brooks and gail collins these writers championed american capitalism over european socialist-capitalism. collins seemed to dither, but brooks took a surprisingly staunch, conservative, pro-american stance. he writes, "i became convinced that our system was better not for the wealth generating reasons the current bloggers are arguing about, but because it leads to more exciting lives." basically, brooks argues that even though american capitalism necessarily promotes labor and employment instabilities, it does allow for more innovation, and through personal motivation for personal growth, development, and both lateral and hierarchical movement in one's profession. this thought seems a bit naive to me, privileged and reeking of republican misconceptions.
here's brook's main argument:
"The American model allows for disruptive change because it is easier for firms to hire new people when they start and shed people if they fail. That makes places like Silicon Valley possible, where you have highly flexible workforces chasing radical new ideas. The European model protects producers more and has greater social trust within companies. That makes steady, gradual innovation more likely — the kind you find at German metallurgic firms. I’m glad the world has both models, but I’d prefer to live in the more dynamic one.
"The other big difference is that the American model encourages hard work at the cost of instability. I think that encourages people to maximize their capacities. The continental model encourages less work at the cost of boredom. I knew people in Brussels who went to work at an organization at 25 sitting in one desk, and they could tell you exactly what desk they will be sitting in and what job they will be doing when they retire at 60 or 65. Yawn."
gail collins agrees that the european system can make innovation difficult or at least impeded. money is a remarkable motivator, i admit, even to those who really aren't innovating but rather managing those who are. and though money is a parth to motivation and innovation, i have to ask is a cultural link between money, imagination, and passion necessary and desirable? rather, the underlying structure to innovation and passion in both economic systems consists of education. open, affordable education fosters passion and dedication in students knowing they can study and not have to worry about the costs of those studies and whether the student will be able to find a job and support him or herself in whatever field the student chooses. these engineers in silicon valley were able to afford and pursue educations that accommodated and heightened their interests. not only were these individuals pursuing careers in fields valued currently by our society, they probably also worked passionate to pursue their interests and found themselves able to attend prestigious universities and colleges.
david brooks went to the university of chicago and perhaps never felt stuck in a dead end career, scholastic or otherwise. for everyone not privileged in america, shouldn't we demanding, as gail collins put it, "health care and the guarantee of a very, very modest pension when [we] get old?"
now, even in the european system, market demands dictate the necessity for certain jobs for paying certain jobs over others. i do not propose that painters make the same as engineers or doctors or architects or computer scientists or executives. such a system necessarily fails. i argue merely that to truly pursue happiness, certain guarantees must be made for every member of our society despite the object and or device of his or her happiness. both in our system and in the european system, different objectives motivate different people: some are motivated for a passion for art, a passion for science, a passion for a certain lifestyle, or for money. this is not a judgement, but rather a justification. economic engines can be maintained while providing for basic human happiness within a society.