The Trouble With Capitalism
by Don Cooper
that exists in our society today and is at the heart of our current
economic crisis is one of economic efficiency vs. economic equity.
is the owning of private property and one doing with that private
property what he or she sees fit within the moral standards set
forth by society. Standard economic thought says that one will engage
their private property in such a way as to make their lot in life
at least no worse off and hopefully better off.
This is probably
more readily known to the general populous as "Capitalism."
thing about capitalism is that it provides opportunity. It provides
the opportunities for individuals, communities, social organizations
and the like to improve themselves, their communities or their organization
in one way or another. It provides them with the incentive to use
their resources efficiently. It provides them with alternatives.
It provides them with choices. It provides them with freedom!
behavior can be found everywhere around us from the student who
has chosen to improve his human capital by attending university;
the working professional who has chosen to add to his financial
capital by going to work everyday; the community organization that
has chosen to improve the communityís social capital by building
houses for the poor.
behavior is innate in every one of us. We canít escape it. And it
is good. Itís what has driven us to excel, to explore, to innovate
and invent, to think creatively and "outside the box."
Itís what drove the first human beings to invent tools. Itís what
drove Europe out of the middle ages and into the enlightenment of
the renaissance. Itís what drove pioneering Americanís to build
It is in fact
human nature and our constitution was written so as not to preclude
capitalistic behavior in what was to be a great experiment.
Enter the federal
government. "Hail the Conquering Heroes." The politicians
running the government have different objectives. They need votes!
They need to convince voters that they care about them so theyíll
vote for them. Never met em, donít want to meet em, ainít got
time to met em but they care about em.
They need to
convince voters that they understand that it isnít "fair"
that Bob Jones, who chose to go to university for 6 years to obtain
a bachelors and a masterís degree in engineering, has a good-paying
job and they donít. They need to convince voters that they understand
it isnít fair that Bob Jones can afford gas and they canít. It isnít
fair that Bob Jones has health insurance and they donít. It isnít
fair that Bob Jones gets to go to Disney World on summer holiday
and they donít.
the government cares about voters and theyíre going to work as hard
as they can to make things equitable even if it means getting Bob
Jones to pay for it.
Oh it doesnít
matter that while Bob Jones was sacrificing for 6 years in school,
those complaining chose to do other things with their lives that
didnít improve their human capital. It doesnít matter that those
complaining sat right next to Bob in high school and had all the
same opportunities that Bob had but chose not to take advantage
couldn't care less about these things because it needs votes. And
theyíll try to buy their votes from the voters by using their unconstitutional
power to enact legislation that forces Bob to give, without compensation,
a part of his hard-earned financial capital to those who donít have
as much as him. This is fairer. This makes our society more equitable.
And why shouldnít Bob? After all, weíre all Americans and we have
to take care of our own, right?
or low-income people no longer have to worry about income or health
care or gas because now Bob, at threat of imprisonment, will pay
for it. We canít wait for Bob and his cohortís to voluntarily help
out. We need to force them to pony up now and big.
This has a
profound effect on our society: no longer are we driven to excel,
to explore, to innovate and invent, to think creatively and "outside
the box." It would be irrational to incur the costs of education
and hard work when I know the government will give me everything
I need compliments of suckers like Bob. A smart man would now spend
his time lobbying the government for more entitlements rather than
sitting in a classroom or in a productive social role.
the federal government is indirectly trying to illegally homogenize
a capitalistic society. This is an effective political tool in a
capitalistic society. A political tool that has been used before
in other countries with disastrous effects.
It was called
communism. Communism drains a society of human capital, financial
capital and social capital. There is no incentive to excel because
everyone gets the same income anyway. No incentive to explore because
the state owns all the resources. No incentive to innovate or invent
because the state owns your ideas. But it is economically equitable!
Of course due
to the lack of invention, people live at lower levels of existence.
They have sub-modern health care, sub-modern education, sub-modern
infrastructures. Compared with other countries they donít produce
artists, writers, musicians, doctors, scientists, inventers or the
like. But thank goodness itís equitable!
[send him mail] is an economist
living and working in Atlanta, Georgia.
© 2009 LewRockwell.com