Capitalism—A New Idea

by Jeff Thomas, International Man:

Capitalism, whether praised or derided, is an economic system and ideology based on private ownership of the means of production and operation for profit.

Classical economics recognises capitalism as the most effective means by which an economy can thrive. Certainly, in 1776, Adam Smith made one of the best cases for capitalism in his book, An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (known more commonly as The Wealth of Nations). But the term “capitalism” actually was first used to deride the ideology, by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, in The Communist Manifesto, in 1848.

Of course, whether Mister Marx was correct in his criticisms or not, he lived in an age when capitalism and a free market were essentially one and the same. Today, this is not the case. The capitalist system has been under attack for roughly 100 years, particularly in North America and the EU.

A tenet of capitalism is that, if it’s left alone, it will sort itself out and will serve virtually everyone well. Conversely, every effort to make the free market less free diminishes the very existence of capitalism, making it less able to function.

Today, we’re continually reminded that we live under a capitalist system and that it hasn’t worked. The middle class is disappearing, and the cost of goods has become too high to be affordable. There are far more losers than winners, and the greed of big business is destroying the economy.

This is what we repeatedly hear from left-leaning people and, in fact, they are correct. They then go on to label these troubles as byproducts of capitalism and use this assumption to argue that capitalism should give way to socialism.

In this, however, they are decidedly wrong. These are the byproducts of an increasing level of collectivism and fascism in the economy. In actual fact, few, if any, of these people have ever lived in a capitalist (free-market) society, as it has been legislated out of existence in the former “free” world over the last century.

So, let’s have a look at those primary sore spots that are raised by suggesting that collectivism will correct the “evils” of capitalism.

Prices Are Driven From the Top Down

This is unquestionably the case in the aforementioned countries, however, it is not so under capitalism. Under capitalism, each producer tries to get as much as he can for his product, but, as others are also creating the same product, those with the lowest price are the ones who will succeed. Therefore, the consumerseffectively set the prices, based upon what they’re willing to pay.

But in any country where cronyism exists between big business and government, regulations can squeeze out the competition, allowing a monopoly for a given product. The definition of this marriage between business and government is “fascism.” The government makes it increasingly difficult, through regulation, for the small producer to compete with the larger producer (who gives kickbacks to the government).

Capitalism Only Benefits Those at the Top

Capitalism benefits those who produce the most, but it also benefits all others, as they have a free choice to purchase whatever products they wish, at a price they’re prepared to pay. If the producer demands too high a price, consumers instead buy his competitor’s product, putting him out of business. The consumeris therefore in charge of the price of goods. A producer only rises to the top if he produces the most affordable product (as did Henry Ford, 100 years ago, with his Model T. Through the free market, he lowered his price repeatedly and, in so doing, put America on wheels).

Capitalism Impoverishes the Masses

The free market offers more goods to more people at lower prices, which enriches the lives of all consumers, no matter how rich or poor. In so doing, it raises up the masses over time, providing them with more and better goods, education, health care, etc., enabling them to rise out of poverty. By contrast, overregulation and entitlements enslave those same people to poverty.

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