Via Economic Policy Journal

Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice recently started in her role as director of the Hoover Institution.

It resulted in her being interviewed on the Hoover Institution show “Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson.”

You have to give Robinson credit, ever polite, he doesn’t pull any punches—even when he is interviewing his top boss.

This is what he said at roughly the 5 minute and 30 second mark of the interview:

I really don’t quite know how you’re going to answer these questions

so slap me around if I’m asking bad questions or you know I had Milton Friedman on this

show and he treated me like a very slow graduate student. He said no that’s not

of interest then he rewrote the questions before answering them. Feel free  to organize a question if that’s the right way to put the way you’re thinking about these

And after that cautious intro, he brilliantly asked her the BIG question:

You have talked about the challenges or the failures and there is this term you’re using of “late stage capitalism.” So of course I looked it up that up and it wasn’t used by Marx but it is associated with the left and here’s a definition that I found online:

“Late stage capitalism is a popular phrase that describes the hypocrisy and absurdities of capitalism as it digs its own grave now.”

And then he had to soften it a bit, because she is his top boss, but he did ask the question and then went on:

Something tells me you don’t really expect or want free markets to dig their own graves so how are you using this phrase?

And then Rice babbled some nonsense:

I’m using this phrase as a challenge to us all to be provocative in our thinking to be wide-ranging in our thinking about how we get at the core of anything that’s ailing what i consider to be the greatest economic system that humankind has ever created. And that is the belief that if people are incented for their labor if they uh mobilize resources smartly and capital smartly uh everybody will be better off. I believe in free markets I believe in free enterprise I believe in the private sector uh I believe in small government uh to make sure that the private sector is freed to the degree that it can be to to do all of those things.

But,I recognize too that those who don’t believe in that are making some very serious charges about where capitalism is failing and if we just say oh no no no you don’t  understand we’re actually growing the economy then people will say well what about all of those who’ve been left out and i’ll tell you what happens uh peter when you’re not provocative enough in your own thinking about your assumptions about what is right is you get lazy and if you get lazy you open the ground to those who would dig your grave and so my view is that  unless we have answers to these questions…we in fact are not doing our jobs as responsible stewards of uh the best economic system that humankind has ever uh created um you know i of course study.

So it appears, like so much of the business establishment, she is for free markets but leaves plenty of room for government to tinker. As for the use of the phrase “late stage capitalism,” she then pointed out that Lenin liked the phrase and she said her using it has been controversial and so she might start saying “mature stage capitalism.” 

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But late or mature, it is difficult to understand how she comes to this point. I can certainly see the potential for a much more advanced form of capitalism with no cronyism, fewer regulations and no central bank.

RW