What's the point of private equity?

What private equity should do. And what it actually does. Our readers give their take.

Last week, I wrote that it's time America has an honest debate about private equity, before deciding if one of its most successful investors should become our next president. At the end, I asked readers to answer three questions via email (although some folks took to the comments section). They were:

1. What is the ideal objective of private equity in the American economy?
2. How is private equity designed to meet that objective?
3. Please give specific examples of both how it has lived up to and failed to meet that objective.

Here are the replies.

--Dan Primack

@FortuneMagazine - Last updated January 19 2012: 4:48 PM ET
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Newt GingrichGingrich earned hundreds of thousands of dollars from private equity.