AS WALL STREET protestors express their frustrations with the finance industry they, and many others, are mourning the loss of a great entrepreneur, Steve Jobs. Perhaps the more self-aware protestors are questioning how capitalism can deliver nice things like an iPad and not so nice things like a CDO-squared. Jonathan Chait is mulling this question and reckons you can pick and choose--you can villainize the financial industry and canonize Silicon Valley visionaries--without being inconsistent.
There is a reason the movement is called “Occupy Wall Street,” not “Occupy Main Street” or “Occupy Silicon Valley.” It is no doubt because most of the participants, or sympathizers, understand that Wall Street is not the same thing as free enterprise — that it is one element that, unlike Apple, poses a unique threat to the functioning of the free marketplace.
I agree you can make some distinctions. But Mr Chait fails to appreciate that while finance is different, it cannot be separated from other industries. The fact is that entrepreneurship, in Silicon Valley in the last thirty years or just about any industry at any point in history, requires capital. You may create a prototype that could change the world, but it's not going to go anywhere if you can't finance it. What would Silicon Valley have been without venture capital and private equity?