Every one of us is a “capitalist.” This, in the sense that we all strive to obtain as much safety, comfort, material goods and security for old age, as we possibly can for the least amount of effort necessary. It doesn’t matter for whom we vote. Many of us simply want to be free TO acquire what we need; others wish to be free OF the need to acquire. In both philosophies we are attempting to gain with minimum effort.
But that’s not the whole story, is it?
Every person is motivated to act differently. We all have our own “profits” that cause us to expend MORE than minimal effort necessary to take care of ourselves and our family. Some are motivated to gain as much as possible in terms of material goods and “wealth.” Some want to be charitable and will work more than necessary so as to give to others. Some are motivated by artistic expression, drama, music or writing. Some by the gaining of power over others, one way or the other. Many profits.
The invention of money both simplified and complicated capitalism. For some, in twisted ways, the accumulation of money, itself, became their “profit.” Such people are able to “buy” the necessities for which others strive, but they are also consumed by numbers and the quantities of money they represent. They have different fears and joys than “regular” people. Unfortunately, they come to realize that they can also “buy” power – influencing government-types to protect their accumulated wealth.
Government types come from those for whom “profit” means power over others, over “public policy” and over taxation and, unfortunately, over “public” budgeting. Tapping into the “profits” of others, familial, financial and charitable, provides the most ways to acquire at minimal effort for those so motivated. They concentrate in governments. Almost inevitably and partly because much of their effort is arcane, they come to believe in their own mental superiority over “regular” people whose concerns are familial, local and unobtrusive.
Meanwhile, capitalism, which in the U. S., OUGHT TO MEAN the right to own private property, and by extension, the right to own the fruits of one’s labors, carries on, inherent in every person. It is human nature.
Some aspects of human nature can, if unchecked by society and hence by government, cause damage and destruction to that society. Many control-worthy human aspects are checked by “agreement.” That is, members of society “agree” that murder, rape, theft, fraud and other forms of false witness, greed, sloth and envy, are to be controlled through various codified sanctions. Lately the list has grown to include littering of various degrees, like pollution, and, in an extraordinary reversal, discrimination against sexual oddities, a change that has led to “intolerance” becoming a worse social transgression than some actual crimes. Western societies must now “tolerate,” if not celebrate, anti-capitalist “lifestyles” that include essentially welfare careers. These things actually threaten the social order and every other right protected by the Constitution, our fundamental social agreement.
A tremendous strength in American capitalism has been the high integrity of our contracts, both with one another and with our governments. This phenomenon makes modern trade possible as well as the millions of debt contracts that describe modern economics. But today, we ignorantly embrace a new form of socialism based on twisted concepts of “social justice,” which intends, fundamentally, to cause guilt-ridden government types to alter the underlying concepts of private property, and to discard natural human capitalism. This need not be an inevitable slide toward the only economic future possible.
It is a slide the basis of which is ignorance, willful and otherwise. It is a slide that attempts, as all socialist plans inevitably do, to replace human nature with a government-directed one. While there may exist the technical possibility of directing every person’s life and economic decisions, governance based thereon cannot prevail. It devolves into tyranny or revolution, perhaps to a new tyranny or, once in a great, great while, into a new form of governance based on self-discipline and personal sovereignty, one in which the governed grant their governors limited powers, and where the tyranny of the majority is carefully sanctioned and where tyranny of the minority is unheard of.
Inherent in a government based on individual freedom and personal responsibility are the concepts of private property and ownership of the fruits of one’s labor: essential free-enterprise.
Capitalism gets fully mucked up when it is politicized, which is to say when limited governments attempt to create economic “fairness.” It seems that no “free” economic and democratic system can refrain from favoring certain industries in return for maintaining power for those who are already “in” government. Much of the favoring is done to “make things fair” or to “level the playing field,” but almost without exception, the net effects are to limit competition for those industries and to limit competition for those in power. These are tendencies that a wise and educated citizenry would create institutions in society and government to carefully limit, if not make impossible. In our growing ignorance we are failing at this essential part of citizenship.
A great strength of capitalism is that it doesn’t reward failure… it replaces it with something that can succeed, success measured in profitability and ability to destroy debt. In this is a lesson for all with eyes to see and ears to hear. Among our people, however, those who get the message are now considered hateful while those who refuse to see or hear are empowered, or re-elected. Ours is fast becoming a system hobbled by the removal of the pillars of individual freedom and personal responsibility. We are rewarding failure.
Immediately this statement will be attacked with charges of cruelty, but this stems from ignorance, which is to say, it’s a charge leveled by those who, for whatever personal profit, IGNORE the distinction between those who are capable and willfully refusing to take responsibility for themselves, and those who are incapable and needful of charity and public support.
The greatest value of capitalist profitability is the creation of surplus – productive surplus – of which a portion may be used to care for those who cannot care for themselves. The greatest flaw in capitalism’s opponents is their creation of and acceptance of a thousand reasons why individuals may be grouped among those who cannot care for themselves. They unfortunately become codified and form a malevolent inhibitor of success. And here we are.