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Trader Gregory Rowe, left, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in October. Stock market rallies and tax cuts have been helpful to the affluent but less so for the middle class and below.
Trader Gregory Rowe, left, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in October. Stock market rallies and tax cuts have been helpful to the affluent but less so for the middle class and below. (Richard Drew/AP)

Conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg sometimes gets it right, but he’s way off the mark with his tirade against those who criticize “unfettered capitalism” (“Opponents of ‘unfettered capitalism’ are fighting a phantom,” Dec. 1).

Acknowledging that even conservative intellectuals are having second thoughts about capitalistic excess, Mr. Goldberg still insists that “unfettered capitalism” is largely a myth, citing a string of government actions over the years to make his point. For example: Teddy Roosevelt’s breakup of the trusts, enactment of child labor laws and the numerous federal agencies created to restrain rampant profiteering and protect ordinary citizens.

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What he does not say is that corporate powers vigorously resisted every regulatory advance, and when they lost they immediately went to work to whittle down the effectiveness of those regulations

Just consider Big Pharma's stranglehold on drug prices, or that big banks are bigger now than they were at the start of the Great Recession of 2007-2008, or that the Trump administration's gutting of EPA regulations is only worsening the climate crisis.

According to Mr. Goldberg, we have “one of the most progressive tax systems in the world,” but tax cuts for the rich — engineered by and for the rich — haven’t stemmed the rampant inequality that is eating at the fiber of our nation. Indeed, it has worsened it. A recent report noted that Los Angeles has 59,000 homeless people while one of its McMansions just sold for $94 million.

Unfettered capitalism is alive and well, and Mr. Goldberg needs to take off his blinkers.

Howard Bluth, Baltimore

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