"The power of accurate observation is frequently called cynicism by those who don't have it." ~ George Bernard Shaw
Public Money, Public Destruction
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It has been my experience that many people have serious misgivings about capitalism's ability to provide the greatest amount of freedom and prosperity for the greatest number of people. For some, as with many of the students that enter my classroom, their objections about capitalism have been ingrained from a lifetime in the public schools, compounded by one socialist teacher after another. These attitudes are further reinforced by parents - themselves often trained to think like socialists by the same public school system, television, movies, and music. Mostly harmless, their anti-capitalist tendencies are largely attributable to an absence of proper instruction.
There are anti-capitalists that fall into a more destructive category. Overall, they generally possess reactionary, emotion-driven, and intellectually vacuous tendencies. These types of individuals are prone to activities such as picketing a hardware store for selling $2,000 generators in the aftermath of a hurricane, throwing paint on a woman wearing a fur coat, and causing riots in protest to anything that threatens to remove trade barriers, consequently exposing workers and the environment to the 'dangers' of globalization. Book-smart some might be, but unfortunately, they have spent too many years reading the wrong books.
The radical anti-capitalist believes capitalism is the reason for low wages at home and sweatshops abroad; capitalism coddles corporate fat-cats, helping them to get richer while the little guy gets poorer; capitalism creates wars so the politically connected can make fortunes; capitalism encourages the raping of the environment; capitalism takes prospects for prosperity and natural resources from poor countries and transfers them to rich and powerful industrialized countries. Not content to live in an insular world of self-delusion, these die-hard crackpots believe others must be coerced, indoctrinated, and deceived to think the same as well.
Blah. Blah. Blah. The capitalism this annoying and dangerous crowd likes to identify as the principle source of suffering and evil for the world is not capitalism. Capitalism, as an economic system, has never truly existed. Western civilization came close to adopting true capitalism in the 19th Century, in Great Britain and the United States , but it was killed by powerful economic interest groups threatened by the equalizing ('democratizing') power of a capitalist system. Capitalism, as Ayn Rand has so accurately written, has remained 'the unknown ideal.'
Long-established and politically powerful interest groups hate the competitive markets that are an essential characteristic of capitalism. Also problematic for the big players is the loss of control over price in a competitive market. The predictability of future gains in a controlled market is also lost when markets are exposed to competitive factors. Without regulated markets, anyone could enter a market at any time. Just when a protected industry thought it could raise prices arbitrarily, somebody else jumps into the market and upsets the apple cart. How can a business count on profits into the endless future if anybody can enter the market at any time? Great Britain and the United States quickly retreated into the mercantilism characteristic of the 17th and 18th centuries.
What most of these poor, dumb bastards who criticize capitalism fail to realize is that much of what constitutes American capitalism today is a modern variation of the mercantilism that existed then. In fact, it's actually worse because the 'mixed' economy many put so much faith in is really a cover for the possibility, or eventuality, of total government control. It's not really the control factor they object to, just who enjoys the favors and power of market control. If the anti-capitalists could have the control, they would not criticize restricted markets, regulated prices, and government control of property use.
For all the improperly-taught yoots, still-ignorant adults raising them, or emotionally-driven, intellectually vacuous, potentially dangerous, poor dumb bastards reading this, the mixed economy is the mistaken belief that the elements of a command structure, like government, can be successfully combined with elements of a market structure, like capitalism, to correct the 'failures' believed to be inherent in a capitalist system. The command elements supposedly complement the capitalism and make it better, more equitable, and more stable.
The mixed economy is a fallacy because the level of regulation governing economic activity at even the smallest level renders ownership and control of property and the factors of production, in the purest sense of these terms, obsolete. Government has effectively 'crowded-out,' to coin an economic term, freedom of ownership and use of property.
In order to exercise true ownership of property, a person has to have the ability to use it in ways that some people, including government, may not approve. And please, spare me the retort that, in the absence of government regulations, people would use property for illegal and destructive means. A community of rational-minded people can devise rules for property use that are enforceable, without having to resort to the massively-intrusive government characteristic of our economy.
The rules (regulations) that government imposes on economic activity have nothing to do with efficiency or guarding against supposed failures inherent in the capitalist system. They are forced on all for the benefit of the few. Rules are specifically crafted to close markets from competition; to seize control of land and resources while preserving the cost of upkeep for the 'owner'; to manipulate prices favorable to some, but unfavorable to others; and to force property owners to submit to the demands of mob rule (elections). Under these conditions, ownership of anything is contingent on what the state permits, always subject to the fickleness of the idiots who elect crooks to pass more laws that further restrict and regulate property ownership and use.
Here in Arizona , there are two proposals that would ban smoking in public places across the entire state. Of course, in the egalitarian sense, that permeates modern identification of property; 'public' places includes privately owned restaurants, offices, and bars. One proposal would require hotels to make half their rooms non-smoking. How many Arizonans know, or care, that they would effectively be voting to seize private property in the name of the state? In all likelihood, one of those proposals will pass.
In the end, this will be just another thoughtless theft of property in the name of the state on the road to the complete socialist utopia, free of the evils of capitalism. Make sure you thank all those drooling, reactionary, sometimes destructive, dumb bastard anti-capitalists for preventing us from fully enjoying the benefits of capitalism.