These days, it seems like too many people think Capitalism is bad. You might have heard that Capitalism is a terrible ideology that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. You may hear somebody say ”People think capitalism is immoral because it allows people to pursue their own selfish happiness.” This statement implies that a person was born to serve others, which is ultimately communism. More on that later.
What is capitalism, really? Capitalism is, simply put, private or corporate ownership of goods and services. In other words, it is a marketplace where goods and services can be publicly or privately traded using a variety of ways to get what you want or need. You can use a standard method of payment, such as money, or a means of trade – I’ll trade a number of Xs for a number of Ys.
What capitalism isn’t…
Capitalism, in its true form, is not a means to suppress others. On this point, many people want to blame capitalism for their own living conditions.
Capitalism is not a form of government. The only thing capitalism governs is the price of goods and services by way of the market. What will the market pay for a certain service or good? It does not govern the people.
Where has capitalism gone wrong in the United States? Capitalism, in itself has not gone wrong. In fact, it has provided a means for many people from a poor background to become rich. However, in the United States of America, which is supposed to be the bastion of freedom, the elected government officials have made certain choices to curtail the freedoms that capitalism provides. These representatives have made laws and regulations such that small businesses can’t compete. Business owners have to get certain licenses, pay various taxes, get certifications, obtain permits, and then they need to pay certain employment fees, such as unemployment, medical insurance, dental insurance, operating insurance of various types, create a record keeping system, and so on and so forth. Government intervention has made creating a new business way to difficult.
What is the answer? Logically speaking, if capitalism lifts people of all creeds, religions, color, and gender up, then maybe the problem is not capitalism. Instead, look to the government. What has the government done to stifle growth?
Think about it for a minute. If the market was truly open and free of government intervention, what would be the result. Many more businesses would open. More ideas would flourish, many more opportunities would be available for individuals to consider. The market would decide what products and services are deserving to stay alive. If workers felt they were not getting paid a good wage at one place, they could simply move to another place of employment. The advantages are numerous.
The disadvantage of a purely capitalist society without some level of regulation is that private ownership allows firms to gain monopolistic power. This can affect both product-based and service-based business. The company can charge a premium for a required product, such as energy, and then turn around and pay their employees a low wage.
Another inherent danger to a purely capitalistic society is that companies ignore external impacts their business may have. For example, a chemical company may want to save money by dumping toxins into a neighboring lake instead of disposing of the toxins properly. Another serious concern might be that a company does not provide the necessary safety equipment or precautions for a particularly dangerous job. A company may only provide just enough for the workers to get the job completed. There is no ignoring the fact that companies in a capitalist society try to lower their bottom line so that they can make their product cheaper, sell more of them, and of course, make more money.
The idea of making money for oneself and family to not only survive but be prosperous is the fundamental principle of the United States. However, in the cases discussed here, it is necessary for government to step in an provide certain regulations. It is the government’s responsibility to protect its people and the environment from which they live, from harm. In fact, it is also the government’s responsibility to strengthen the economy by encouraging businesses to be innovative. This does not include wages. The market will determine who will pay for what, how much, and how many. The strength of the market is such that if a person does not like where they work, they can either work for somebody else or start their own business.
Where the United States has gone wrong is largely through lobbyists. Big companies with a large excess of profits have enough money to gain an elected candidate’s attention through various contributions to a campaign or an organization that helps the individual get elected. These large donations gain the attention of our elected leaders thus drowning out the voices of the citizens and small to medium business owners. The large businesses are able to encourage laws and regulations that benefit them and weaken their competition. This is NOT what the free market was intended to do.
The idea of lobbying has become a very prosperous venture. This, in itself, helps the few and hurts the many. This has very little to do with Capitalism and lots to do with the government. I leave you with this: capitalism is not the problem we are having in this country; it is how it is being governed that is hurting its people the most.
Right now, we are fighting for scraps. We are looking to government officials to increase the minimum wage for low skilled jobs such as cashier, greeters, and other low paying retail jobs. First, these are jobs kids in high school took to gain real world experience. Second, going this route is only going to create more problems for the government to “fix.” Instead of fighting for scraps, maybe consider looking at those who created these problems à the federal government. Bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States of America. Reduce the number of regulations and taxes. Stop government handouts. Provide a higher level of education; an education that teaches children a vocation, finances, cooking, what capitalism actually is, and the things that actually matter in a functioning society. Further, society itself needs to promote bringing us all together and learning from each other. It is the diversity of thought that brings strength to this society.
Call to action.
- Stop fighting for communism.
- Stop asking the government for handouts.
- Stop asking the government to fix a problem they cannot solve.
- Become a member of a community organization that limits government.
- Join good organizations such as FEC United and Convention of States
- Start electing people at the city and county level that are for smaller government and are pro capitalism.
- Take time in finding out who you are electing.
- Vote for policies, not for the person.
- Stay involved.
- Push for state sovereignty.
- Start teaching finance, what capitalism actually is, and about how our government is supposed to help our civilization grow in school.