The whole discussion reminded me of an episode of Recess which I think boils down American economics pretty well. To me, it's a cautionary tale; investment sounds like a good thing but can bite you back, greedy corporations eventually bring down the entire system, money's only worth anything as long as we think it is, and the American myth of upward mobility can be dangerous.
I suggested to someone last night that when "speculation" and price gouging lead to excesses, there should be a limit. I cannot believe that inflation is just a natural occurrence. "Supply and demand" sounds reasonable, but in practice leads to extremes that hurt everyone. So I suggested something like making a rule that the price of something cannot exceed so many times the cost to produce that thing. To me this seems reasonable. Does this mean someone has to be in charge of these rules? Yes. But why is that necessarily a bad thing? Isn't that what government is for?
Here's the episode I'm talking about. Watch it, and decide how well it reflects real situations, albeit in a cartoon microcosm. And note the contract at the end; if I'm wrong in the above paragraph, then isn't this wrong too? And feel free to leave me comments about how I don't understand what I'm talking about. Because I don't.