The Public Interest

The corporate scandals and American capitalism

Irwin M. Stelzer

Winter 2004

FOR a century, regulation by government and modesty on the part of business leaders have guided efforts to preserve and improve the capitalist system. The phrase “There oughta be a law” captures the spirit of that impulse, and experience has largely vindicated its worth. In the latter part of the nineteenth century, when the country risked having its key industries fall to monopolists or cartels, Congress enacted antitrust laws that in no small way helped to preserve competitive markets in the United States. These laws also affirmed the idea that social mobility should not be unreasonably restricted in the American economy.

Download a PDF of the full article.



from the


A weekly newsletter with free essays from past issues of National Affairs and The Public Interest that shed light on the week's pressing issues.


to your National Affairs subscriber account.

Already a subscriber? Activate your account.


Unlimited access to intelligent essays on the nation’s affairs.

Subscribe to National Affairs.