Now that the U.S. Administration is in control of General (Government) Motors and has ousted CEO Rick Wagoner, perhaps it's time for the President to offer amnesty to all "runaway" capitalist so they can come home. If nothing else good comes out of this self-created economic crisis, at least we might be able to gain a bit of perspective on what is "real" capitalism and what we have been sold or told is capitalism by the unbridled, unregulated, runaway "captains" of industry. Now I'm sure there are laissez-faire zealots who will disagree, but the reality is they don't own "capitalism" anymore then social conservatives own "religious values" or libertarians own "freedom". A couple of recent events illustrate how out of whack our perspective has become on this matter.

The other night my wife was recounting to me a story a very wealthy friend of ours told her at a recent dinner. Now this individual had the great fortune of being employee number 4 (it might have been 5, doesn't really matter) at what became a Fortune 500 corporation. He cashed out years ago with enough money to buy a few countries if he so desired. Recently he contacted a phone company to have a new phone line installed at one of the many homes he owns. The nice young woman he talked to informed him he would have to put down a cash deposit on the line because of his credit history. Somewhat surprised he asked her what was the issue with his credit. Turns out it that he had no credit history because for the last 20 years he has pretty much purchased everything with cash.

Does he have a credit problem? Technically, I suppose a case could be made, but in reality his "credit problem" is nothing like that of millions of Americans who has been laid off, lost their homes, lost their health benefits or have seen their retirement funds waste away. For our wealthy friend his credit problem is a humorous inconvenience, for many people it's a life changing tragedy. Our friend was not telling this story to gain sympathy with his situation, he's much too aware of his incredible good fortune to do that.

The second event was the recent firing of GM CEO Rick Wagoner. While his ousting may be seen as a token symbol of much larger problems at GM, I was surprised to see a rather large outpouring of sympathy for him and his situation. Amazingly some people want us to believe Wagoner is a victim! Well I suppose that's a matter of perspective. Was he a victim of his own short-sighted greed? Perhaps. But I don't think that's what people are saying. The poor guy is running away from GM with a $20 million retirement package. That could put a real crimp in his lifestyle. He probably won't get to fly much on the corporate jet as he did a couple of months ago when he came to Washington begging for money. That didn't work out so well for him anyway.

So my thinking is perhaps it's time we took back the meaning of "capitalism" from the runaway capitalist and added some things to it like: responsibility, sustainability, constraint, and respect. I know such thinking might fly directly in the face of what we have been told is "capitalism", but those people had a nice run, now it's time for the rest of us to move things forward.

BTW - I'm not a socialist, I'm not a communist, I'm a capitalist, I have been all my life.