Condemning Capitalism and Freedom
The relentless assaults on American capitalism continue unabated. This week such an attack even appeared on the Wall Street Journal's website, Market Watch. Columnist Paul B. Farrell penned a column titled, "Capitalism is killing our morals, our future." Not only is the article devoid of any logic, but it demonstrates a shocking lack of understanding of economics and the nature of the American economy.
The article begins with the predictable attacks against the wealthy, decrying the fact that the number of billionaires in the world has quadrupled in the past 12 years. Evidently, Mr. Farrell does not understand that the amount of money in the world is not finite; every time you earn a dollar and put it in the bank, it does not mean that there is one less dollar available for someone else to earn. No one on Earth is poor because someone else is rich.
Mr. Farrell then tells us, "For the rest of the world, capitalism is not working: a billion live on less than two dollars a day." First of all, "the rest of the world" does not live in capitalist society; in fact, neither do we here in America, but more on that later. As for the billion souls who live on 2 bucks a day, they live in socialist countries such as China, North Korea, and Cuba, or have state-run economies like Mexico and India. Most of the remainder live in dysfunctional African dictatorships, or in the rain forests of South America. Their governments are the reason why they are poor -- not because greedy rich people are stealing their money.
The rest of the piece is dedicated to the gibberish peddled by Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel, who claims capitalism has undermined American values. Sandel writes,
Without being fully aware of the shift, Americans have drifted from having a market economy to becoming a market society ... where almost everything is up for sale ... a way of life where market values seep into almost every sphere of life and sometimes crowd out or corrode important values, non-market values."
What Farrell and Sandel fail to recognize is that all values are market values. Like it or not, everything among free men is traded value for value. In the economy, we trade money for services or things we want, e.g. money in exchange for groceries or a haircut. In societal relationships we trade respect, admiration, friendship, and love for the things we value in others; integrity, honesty, kindness, skill, patience, reliability, loyalty etc...
The article never makes clear exactly what "values" are up for sale that shouldn't be, just that, "our new dominating capitalist mind-set is crowding out 'nonmarket values worth caring about.'"Farrell quotes Sandel's core message as,
The good things in life are degraded if turned into commodities. So to decide where the market belongs, and where it should be kept at a distance, we have to decide how to value the goods in question -- health, education, family life, nature, art, civic duties, and so on. These are moral and political questions, not merely economic ones.
The collectivist mentality is here on full display: "we" do not have to decide how to value anything; I will decide for myself and Professor Sandel can decide for himself. That is not only the essence of capitalism -- it is the essence of human liberty.
Farrell repeats Sandel's complete mischaracterization of economics,
...A market economy is a tool ... for organizing productive activity. A market society is a way of life in which market values seep into every aspect of human endeavor. It's a place where social relations are made over in the image of the market.
A market economy is not a tool for organizing production; authoritarian government, command-and-control economic planning, regulation, and manipulative tax codes are tools for organizing production. Economics is not merely the study of business, markets, and monetary matters, but also how individuals make decisions. Risk and reward calculations are made not simply in financial decisions but in all sorts of social situations; where to socialize, whom to choose as friends, or whom to date or marry.
What Farrell and Professor Sandel miss entirely is that the United States does not have a free market capitalist economy. Sandel says, "The financial crisis did more than cast doubt on the ability of markets to allocate risk efficiently." President Obama and his cabal made great use of the 2008 financial meltdown to condemn capitalism and tighten their grip on the nation's economy. Anyone who cares to investigate knows that the crisis was created by government interference in the home mortgage marketplace. Our federal masters dictate every single aspect of our economy from how cars are built and what gas mileage they will get, to how much workers are paid, who will get hired and fired, how many toilets must be on hand per worker, how many hours you can work, where production facilities can be built, what materials can be used and from whom they will be purchased, which industries will get tax breaks and government loans, right down to how much water our toilets and showerheads can use. The Russians -- who created the first socialist state and suffered under its tyranny for seven decades -- know socialism when they see it. The newspaper Pravda, formerly the official mouthpiece of the Soviet regime, wrote in 2009 that, ."...the American descent onto Marxism is happening with breathtaking speed..."
Yet according to Sandel, our country has a "new dominating capitalist mind-set." If Americans have such a capitalist attitude, how does he explain the past two presidential elections, where Barack Obama promised to "spread the wealth around" and "make oil companies like Exxon pay a tax on their windfall profits, and we'll use the money to help families pay for their skyrocketing energy costs and other bills"? How does he explain the existence of the Department of Labor, the National Labor Relations Board, OSHA, the EPA, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Commerce, the Federal Trade Commission, the FAA, FCC, FDA, and hundreds of other federal, state, and local agencies that micromanage every aspect of our economy?
What collectivists like Mr. Farrell and Professor Sandel are really saying when they condemn capitalism is that individual freedom is immoral. They believe that everything is the province of the state to decide -- even our personal moral values. They believe that you do not have the right to hold your own values; "We" will decide. And by "We," they mean the state.
Economic and political liberty are inseparable. The right to free expression and trial by jury is of little value to someone who is told what to do or what products he can buy with his money. The word "capitalism" did not even exist when America was founded; in 1776, it was simply called "freedom." The term capitalism, as employed by authoritarian collectivists, is simply a pejorative term for freedom. Professor Sandel knows America is not a free-market society, and he is advocating for not only total state control of the economy, but for every core belief of individual citizens to be dictated by the state -- deceptively referred to as "we."
The Founders bequeathed to us the greatest society in human history; not because we became prosperous and powerful -- but because we were free. Prosperity and power were the result of human potential being released for the first time, taking mankind from millennia of disease, ignorance, and grueling subsistence, to electricity, indoor plumbing, organ transplants, and space flight in less than 200 years.
"We" are never going to decide what my values are, and I have no interest in dictating the values of others. I wish only to see America return to the only value upon which all honest men and women can agree; freedom.