Capitalism: The only road to opulence

Speaking on wealth creation, President John F. Kennedy famously noted that "a rising tide lifts all boats."  This assertion reveals a fundamental truth behind the power of the free market: when wealth is created in a true capitalist system, it inevitably spreads to all levels of society.

The veracity of this is proven in The Capitalist Manifesto — a simple text from influential supply-siders Ralph Benko and William Collier — published earlier this week.  The text expertly defines how "True Capitalism" stands in direct opposition to its enemy from the left — socialism — and its enemy from within — crony capitalism.  The authors contrast "True Capitalism" with the "New Feudalism" promoted by socialists and "some of Capitalism's own merchants."

Within the Manifesto's first pages, Benko and Collier identify a major problem that we now face: a growing number of people view socialism favorably.  As noted free-market economist F.A. Hayek observed in 1949: "once freedom has been achieved it is taken for granted and ceases to be valued." 

A growing number of people today have never known a world without the freedom offered by capitalism and they are increasingly devaluing it while turning to alternative economic philosophies (i.e., socialism).

The authors show that much of the disillusionment with capitalism is driven by its enemy from within.  Cronyists — or so-called "merchants of capitalism" — undermine free-market principles by jumping in bed with big government to block their competition and establish a quasi-feudal market.  This system, masquerading as capitalism, is the culprit behind the public's waning trust in the free market. 

We see a key distinction between these systems when the authors declare, "Feudalism rewards people based on their social status.  True Capitalism rewards people based on their contribution to the general welfare."

Benko and Collier show the success of capitalism and supply-side economics in massive wealth creation, especially during the Reagan years.  The system drove up standards of living, made education and health care more accessible, and saw extreme poverty plummet.  They also describe the "Kitchen Debate" between then–vice president Richard Nixon and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, where Nixon pointed out that under America's capitalist system, a steelworker making $3 per hour could afford a $14,000 home filled with luxuries unknown to the average Soviet — a great illustration of magnificent wealth creation in the United States.

This, as Benko and Collier point out, is the universal opulence that True Capitalism allows: equitable prosperity expanding to all layers of society.  There are only four "secret ingredients" to this prosperity:

There is capital, the means of production. There is labor, those who work to build the products or provide the services. There are the materials employed by capital and labor to create finished products. There are the means to market, sell, and deliver the products.

These basic components combined inevitably spread wealth to the people who exercise them. 

But perhaps their biggest idea is the "Capitalist Ten Commandments."  These "Commandments" share a vision of a capitalist utopia where the government's role in the economy is severely limited, creating the grounds for expansive wealth creation.

Much in the way that Marx and Engels called for a worldwide movement to overthrow the "bourgeoisie," Benko and Collier call for a movement to "build the liberal [True Capitalist] utopia."  This echoes Hayek's call for such a movement and is largely directed at young people to defend and renew capitalism.  The authors present a compelling case that capitalism is the only road to universal opulence. 

Nathan Williamson is a conservative activist and writer.  His economic commentary has appeared in multiple online outlets.

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