The Coach's Corner

The Corruption of Capitalism in America

November 18th, 2019 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

is the subtitle of David Stockman’s book, The Great Deformation. Some of you more seasoned readers may recall the young Grand Rapids congressman who served as President Reagan’s budget director. I remember it clearly because we lost a very senior Plante Moran staff member, who joined Stockman’s staff. Those of you who know me well have often heard me say that I’m a fan of the free market. Well, in this 700-plus-page book, Stockman rocked my world. It continued a theme in my life where I’m realizing that much of what I’ve believed to be factual may not be. Again, my seasoned readers probably get it.

Here are a few of my thoughts:

  1. First of all, this could be a college-level economics textbook; it pushed me to the limits of my personal knowledge.
  2. Stockman has an enormous vocabulary or a Ph.D.-level thesaurus.
  3. Best I can tell, he isn’t aligned with either the Democratic or Republican party.
  4. The interconnections between the big banks and investment banks and our government are spooky. Just one example: How did Hank Paulson, former Goldman Sachs CEO, happen to be available to serve as the Secretary of the Treasury just as the Great Recession began? Patriotism?

Learnings from Stockman:

  1. He provides a fairly detailed history of 20th and 21st century U.S. economics, with relevant details about countries like China and Japan.
  2. He explains and provides details about the Keynesian monetary theory and application, and gives his views about its negative impact over the past 50 years.
  3. As a capitalist, he is opposed to deficit spending and would say that Presidents Reagan and George W. Bush significantly increased the federal deficits to an alarming level.
  4. He reminds us that President Eisenhower warned the nation that we must guard against the influence of the military-industrial complex.
  5. President Eisenhower reduced the defense budget and did not reduce taxes against his party’s wishes.
  6. Based on their actions and policies, both political parties support Big Government.
  7. According to Stockman, who was in the Reagan White House, the trickle-down theory of economics, or the Laffer curve, did not and does not work.
  8. He provides some very interesting, detailed insights regarding the causes for and the remedies of the Great Recession.
  9. He is a true capitalist and his criticisms in the book are of crony capitalism, where the government intercedes in the free market on behalf of a special group, like bailing out Wall Street or the auto industry. He believes the Republican Party has really drifted away from true free market capitalism, and his book provides many solid examples to support his view.

As I’ve already stated, over the years I’ve made assumptions that later turned out to be myths. Throughout this book, I once again felt that way. If you consider yourself a capitalist/free market person, I would highly recommend you take the time to read it. Unfortunately, politics have twisted some truths to fit positions or platforms.

Closing comment: For any automotive suppliers who are reading this blog, yes, this is the same guy who created, founded, presided over as CEO, and took Collins & Aikman bankrupt, and he also covers that in the book. Honestly, I was a little disappointed with his lack of remorse for his failure.

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Tom DoescherYou’ll find stories from the trenches, business lessons, and pertinent questions to help you find inspiration, professional growth, and leadership savvy.

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