The First Amendment in the Bill of Rights affirms that all people have a right to freedom of speech. This means that the government cannot suppress or ban someone for their political ideology or their belief. However, a private organization could do such a thing; for example, a church or private school can ban profanity on their grounds. There is a free speech gray area relating to what public/private partnerships can and should do about it; this is a problem with our crony capitalist system.
Joshua D. Glawson | United States
Capitalism is an economic system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state. More specifically, capitalism is the free and voluntary exchange of goods and services.
Before the implementation of money, the differences between people was a matter of Nature or God. Some, by their own free will or by location, had more than others and created more than others. Some are stronger, some are smarter, some are more intelligent, some are better looking, some need less, some utilize what they have better, etc. It is the very nature of being human that we have differences between us before ever even initiating money or property, i.e. capital, into the equation. This is most likely why Marx and Engles do not provide an origin of ‘property’ or ‘property rights’ because to take away what is someone else’s is unjust and immoral, as well as least pragmatic or least utilitarian.
Prior to the introduction of capitalism in the world, much fewer people had wealth, and all struggled to get by aside from those wealthy few. A world GINI coefficient would clearly show a lopsided distribution of wealth, in the words of Communists and Socialists, and provide evidence of the daily struggles once suffered while unknown in most parts of the world today.
We live far better lives today thanks to capitalism. Abject poverty since the implementation of capitalism in the world, especially after 1980, is nearing its very end. Prior to capitalism, people had to work longer hours, work harder, children worked more, and people married for practical reasons more than for love. It can be easily and confidently declared that capitalism made way for more love and individualism, simultaneously, more than any other approach prior.
Actual Capitalism does not infringe on the rights of others, because the philosophy of it is based on free and voluntary exchange. Typically, this also implies that there is a legal system that ensures the negative Liberties, Natural Rights, of everyone. Some economists and philosophers differ on the need of a State in order for capitalism to exist.
What most people criticize as being ‘capitalism’ today, as many Communists and Socialists have espoused, is in fact NOT CAPITALISM. A State that allows the infringement of rights while protecting a company that wishes to exploit is CRONYISM, or CRONY CAPITALISM, not capitalism itself.
Remember, government, by its definition, has the sole monopoly on coercion and initiation of force. A coercive monopoly, crony capitalism, coercion through labor unions, involuntary redistribution, taxes, etc. are only continually possible through a government, not a free and voluntary market.
Envy, jealousy, theft, coerced redistribution schemes through government, etc. are what keep people apart by force. Capitalism betters the lives of everyone in the end, generally speaking. In fact, this principle of capitalism that encourages free trade, as in laissez-faire capitalism, is one point that more economists agree on than anything else, no matter the economist’s political affiliation.
- Isn’t it ironic that Communists and Socialists always complain about so-called “bourgeoisie” living easy lives while exploiting the “proletariat,” but Communists and Socialists want everyone to live like the “bourgeoisie” by forcefully stealing with threat of murdering the “bourgeoisie?”
Capitalism has done more to unite people than divide them. The fact that we can sit here reading and writing on the internet in the middle of the day rather than hunting, farming, collecting water, or making things to live day-to-day, etc. attests to the benefits brought by capitalism. The fact that a writer such as Marx could have existed while freely and voluntarily living off the dime of Engels, a “bourgeoisie,” is further proof that capitalism has done more to unite us than divide us. Without capitalism, our focus and worry is more on the immediate rather than the philosophy brought on by leisure for the masses which is only a result of capitalism.
When people begin making copious amounts of money more than others, sure their status and quality of life differs than the layman, but the wealthy must still spend or store their money somewhere that benefits those in lesser positions. This is a key principle, as living in a wealthier society is far superior to that of living in one where only a few are wealthy. But if everyone is forced to be the same, nothing has the same worth as it does now. When everyone has the same wealth, the cost of things becomes more expensive, subjectively and comparably speaking. If all we looked at was the GINI of two countries in order to compare wealth distribution, we could compare Morocco and the US. I am confident that more people would rather live in the US than in Morocco, aside from political and social differences, and simply based on economic reasons for equality and unity. Nevertheless, the two countries have pretty similar distributions of income as seen below:
Or we can compare the US with the Czech Republic, where the average person makes more like that of their neighbor than in the US.
I can still confidently say that more people would rather live in the US than in the Czech Republic. Not only does this suggest that there is more to living a good life than the balanced distribution of wealth, but also that when we get closer to actual capitalism we live better lives.
I will admit that Socialism and Communism in their truest forms have never been successfully attempted. Likewise, Capitalism in its purest form has never been successfully attempted. However, the near-Capitalism has done more to help unify and better humankind more than near-Socialism or near-Communism. While, near-Communism and near-Socialism have done more to destroy and divide people than any other system, records that suggest close to 100,000,000 (one hundred million) deaths from the two.
Capitalism provides solutions for people, as there is an incentive to provide these solutions in the market, and working with the marketplace. Such things as technology, medicine, art, transportation, architecture, clothing, food, etc. all help to better our lives and unify us, while more competition drives down costs of production and makes things better for most if not all, in the immediate. Capitalism does more to unify us rather than divide us, while other systems, such as Communism or Socialism, do more to divide us.
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By Jack Parkos | United States
In 1776, the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, breaking away from tyrannical British rule. Thirteen years later, they ratified the Constitution after years of fighting and many deaths. The Founders differed on many issues, but agreed on the ideas of self governance and limited government. They also believed in the idea of inalienable rights that government could not take. They were heavily influenced by “The Wealth Of Nations” by Adam Smith, which was published in the same year America declared independence. This book created the idea of Laissez-Faire Economics. The Founding Fathers wanted a capitalist nation with a limited government. This government system, of course, would be a Constitutional Republic.
The Rise of Mussolini
However, the 19th and 20th Centuries saw the rise of extreme ideologies, most notably Marxism and reactionary movements. One such movement was fascism. Nowadays, fascism gets thrown around commonly as a buzzword without a full understanding of its meaning. Fascism is a highly nationalist ideology, consisting of a mixed economy, militarism, and an authoritarian government. Fascism rose in between the world wars. One of the most famous fascists was Benito Mussolini.
Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because its the merger of state and corporate power.
Mussolini’s quote explains a lot about fascism, which partners the state and corporations over the people. Mussolini promoted heavy elitism and bureaucracy, which resulted in his totalitarian state.
Economically, corporatism supports private ownership of the means of production. The state very tightly controls production of goods. But once produced, distribution is generally controlled less.
Now we look at modern America: where are we on this spectrum? Are we the limited government the Founders wanted, or are we under a totalitarian state? Of course, we are not one hundred percent either. But we are now closer to Mussolini’s ideology than the Founders’. We do differ from Mussolini in ways, yes. We still have elections, political freedom, and some civil liberties. But our socio-economic system is a near replica of Mussolini. This is not an attack on one party or one politician. Both parties are guilty of corruption. Let us first examine the economics.
American Corporatist Economics
What economic system is America? Most people think we are capitalist. However, we are only capitalist in name. Modern American economics is closer to cronyism and corporatism (though it often may be called “mixed economics”) than capitalism. We truly haven’t had true capitalism in long time. People associate capitalism with corporate rule and bailouts for the rich as this is what our government does. But this isn’t capitalism at all!
Capitalism promotes a free market with voluntary transactions. Members of Bernie Sanders’ movement often call out the merger of big corporation and our government. And they are right, this is a problem! But they are wrong in calling it capitalism. Mussolini called for state and corporate merging. Mussolini was not a capitalist. Capitalist philosophers like Adam Smith (who influenced the Founders), Ayn Rand, or Milton Friedman would simply never promote cooperate and state merger.
America’s history of corporatism and cronyism really starts with the New Deal, when President FDR started getting the government involved in the affairs of businesses. People who support this say that government and business merging would help untie the classes of the people. That has not worked out. It is true that the rich are getting richer. However, this isn’t the result of capitalism. This is the result of the government imposing heavy taxes on the people, but then allowing corporations to be exempt with loopholes. Your average big corporation can buy a politician in congress and manipulate the economy. The state and business can do whatever they please to “benefit society”. A small business owner or middle class family does not have this power.
This Isn’t What the Founders Wanted
Does this sound like what the Founders wanted? The men influenced by Adam Smith, the men who fought for freedom? Of corse not. There are examples of them speaking against this. One example of this is Thomas Jefferson. He actually stated:
The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed corporations.
But Mussolini would have liked this. Through the way the corporations and state may have differed, Mussolini would have loved the result. Having the power to control the economy. Remember him saying his ideology (fascism) is the merger of corporation and state? Is that not modern America? America may not have an autocratic leader, but do we truly have the republic our Founders gave to us? Perhaps not.
Mussolini, of course, wanted a strong, authoritarian, and imperialist government. This is not at all what the Founders wanted. Now the elephant in the room, the federalists. They wanted a “strong” government yes, but not even close in comparison to Mussolini’s government or even modern America’s government.
Just How Far Down the Road are We?
Is America the complete totalitarian state Mussolini dreamed up? No. But we are closer to that than we are the Founders. The Supreme Court, the branch that was supposed to block the government from growing and taking away liberties, allowed it. The Founders believed in God giving unalienable rights and that the sole purpose of the government as to protect those rights. Now, the view has shifted to “Government given rights”. Such a belief entails the notion that the government decides what rights we do and don’t have.
There are also similarities in foreign policy. The Founders wanted peaceful relations for nations. Mussolini, on the other hand, was very aggressive on foreign policy. Fascist Italy was very militaristic. Mussolini wanted to “recreate” the Roman Empire. What about modern America? We are essentially the world police, which The Founders never wanted. Of course, no fascist ever reached this status. But becoming the world police is closer to creating another Roman Empire than it is to peaceful relations.
Thus, the early and modern American governments are not remotely similar. It is truly sad that we have drifted closer to fascism, rather than maintaining the beautiful country so many fought and died for. Today, the patriots need to take a stand and work to go back to those days when freedom rang.
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By Sean Calvert | Canada
Late stage capitalism, or late capitalism, is an idea that has re-emerged in recent years to explain the purported failures of contemporary capitalism. According to this notion, absurdities and failures in the economy are symptomatic of capitalism’s death throes. These perceived failures, however, are not inherent to the system, as many Marxist economists believe, but are rather due to intervention by the state. As for the absurdities, none provide evidence that capitalism is failing.
While Marx himself never used the term late stage capitalism, he did describe what the final stages of capitalism would look like. In volume three of Das Kapital, Marx described how in capitalism’s last stage, market competition would decline as capital centralized in fewer hands. Marxist economists, such as Michał Kalecki, believed that capitalism was inherently monopolistic and that its fate was to move towards a system that would eventually devour itself.
The term “Late Capitalism” can be traced back to Marxist economist Werner Sombart’s work Der moderne Kapitalismus, published in the early 1900s. In this work, Sombart explains that Capitalism developed in three stages: early (pre-industrial revolution), high (the industrial revolution), and late stage capitalism (World War I and beyond).
The term was popularized seventy years later by another Marxist economist, Ernest Mandel. For Mandel, Late Capitalism is characterized by the rise of multinational corporations, consumerism, and globalization. He argued that the last expansionary wave began with the birth of fascism in Europe and the advent of the US and UK command economies during the Second World War. This expansion lasted until 1972 when it reached its limit. Economic stagnation and class struggle followed.
When Mandel was writing, he was witnessing the very end of the post-WWII boom. He believed that the working class would soon rise in a mass, revolutionary movement. Obviously, this did not happen. The slump did not create anything resembling the conditions that sparked the revolutions in Tsarist Russia.
Contemporary understandings of Late Capitalism have broadened out from the original definition to include all the deficiencies and absurdities of the current economy. These include the destruction of the middle class, the growing gap between the rich and poor, and popular focus on useless goods, such as wifi-enabled kettles.
The “late” in “late capitalism” implies that capitalism is at the end of its age. Just as Late Antiquity marked the end of the Classical era and the transition to the Middle Ages, so too does late stage capitalism herald both an end and a beginning. Marx believed that the final stages of capitalism would be marked by the rise of the proletariat and the diminishment of the middle class as wealth was concentrated into fewer hands. These three factors, according to Marx, would result in the emergence of a proletarian revolution. Yet history proved otherwise. Crises, such as the Great Depression, came and went, yet there was no revolution.
Marx predicted that the advent of monopolies would signal the collapse of capitalism. While it is true that large corporations came to control the economic landscape, their dominion is not natural. Economist Horace Gray found that aspiring monopolies would petition governments to designate them as public utilities to protect them from competition. AT&T enjoyed monopoly status until its government supplied patents expired in 1893. By 1907, AT&T’s competitors controlled 51% of the market.
Income inequality is touted as one of the elements of late stage capitalism. Inequality is not necessarily a bad thing – it exemplifies the choice of the individual in a capitalist society. One person may choose to be a schoolteacher and another become a doctor. The income gap between the two is no doubt large, but the two individuals made different choices, leading to different outcomes.
On the other hand, the wealth gap between the rich and poor in the U.S. is growing at an alarming rate. A Bloomberg article found that between 2010 and 2015 the average annual income between the top 20% and the bottom 20% increased by more than $29,000 to $189,000. New York Times columnist David Brooks reports that wealth inequality is greater in the United States than it is in Iran or Russia. Surely this must be a sign that capitalism is in its final stages.
While this is true, the major reason for the channeling of wealth to the super rich is due to collusion among the state, large corporations, and special interest groups. It is called cronyism, and it is inherently against the precepts of free-market capitalism. Corporations lobby the government to create policies, which range from subsidies to protective regulations, which in turn create barriers for new competitors, effectively killing most competition and funneling wealth up the rungs of the socioeconomic ladder. It is not capitalism per se that has funneled the wealth to the top, but the state and its regressive regulations.
It must not be forgotten that capitalism allows more upward social mobility than alternative economic systems. “Oh, but the middle class is shrinking! Marx predicted this!” No doubt this is true in the United States. A Pew Research study showed that between 1991 and 2010 middle-income households fell to 59% from 62%.
Yet acording to the U.S. Census Bureau, since 1967, the number of households which have an income of more than $100,000 has increased from 8.1% to 27.7%. In addition, the number of low-income households, defined as those that make less than $35,000, has decreased from 38.7% to 30.2% since 1967. From these statistics, we can conclude that most households are moving up rather than down the income ladder, contrary to what Marx predicted.
Some who believe that we are in late stage capitalism point towards absurdities and irregularities within our socio-economic system. A $1200 margarita is touted as evidence of decadence. Yet a $1200 margarita undeniably targets the exceedingly rich, and should be regarded as a non-issue because consumers have the choice to pursue lower priced margaritas.
Critics of capitalism fail to recognize is that most of capitalism’s perceived shortcomings are, in fact, not intrinsic the economic system. Rather, they are consequences of the anti-capitalist policies of the state that constrict the free market, and in doing so, give rise to the perception that capitalism is on its deathbed.
Mandel waited from 1973 until his death in 1995 for the proletariat to revolt. Yet his wait was in vain. If capitalism is as unsustainable and as exploitative as many Marxists make it out to be, we would have already seen a revolution akin to the overthrow of Tsarist Russia. For now, and the foreseeable future, free-market capitalism remains the best economic system we have.
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By Joshua D. Glawson | United States
Cause and Consequence:
The world consists of income inequality, and some nations even greater disparity between the rich and the poor than others. In the United States, it is suggested that the wealthy have a far more significant amount of money and capital than that of the lower socioeconomic classes. For some, this is a moral issue, for others it is a legalistic issue that deserves to be addressed. I find it to be neither of these, if the contracts between the working classes and those of the wealthy were voluntary and free.
Despite this, there should be major moral and legal concern when this wealth difference is acquired through unjust cronyism. Conducted between governments and businesses or individuals, this is a way to redistribute wealth from one class to give to another through coercive means. There are many instances where we are well aware of cronyism taking place. This includes governments privileging particular companies, preventing competition, or creating strong barriers to enter the market place. This leads to coercive monopolies, which can only legally be produced with government threats.
Without a doubt, these companies should be stripped of their privileges. The restrictive governmental barriers for others to enter the market should be erased. Cronyism and other barriers restrict a market from flourishing to its fullest potential, and the outcome is greater disparity between the poor and the rich.
Thusly, the strong arm of government restriction on the market is causing unjust income inequality. On the contrary, the marketplace does not need restrictions and more regulations. As stated previously, the market, and capitalism in general, has done more to save people from poverty than any king, army, or government could possibly dream of.
When governments utilize acts of cronyism, rent-seeking, labor unions, coercive monopolies, etc., the politicians, as well as they business owners, are behaving immorally. This is an act of ‘theft and threat’ by creating wealth solely for a particular group, while threatening punishment to those that dare challenge such restrictions. Additionally, it subsidizes these groups through coercive taxation on the public. An optimally flourishing market consists more of unrestricted, legally speaking, free trade, as in a laissez-faire capitalist economy.
There is a great deal of difficulty in approaching this issue of cronyism and addressing it in the US. Doing so relies on the people of the economy and politicians in Congress to act in unison to correct the relation between government and the market. For the same reasons Church and State are separate, so too should Market and State. They corrupt one another absolutely.
Without a cultural change, any violent measure to force governments and businesses to cease their cronyism would jeopardize the newly established government to subjective force by others later. A democratic republic requires peaceful engagement in civil acts within society to establish justice and equality under the law, which also ensures a large degree of freedom exists. A government, in order to maintain justice, not only needs clear and objective laws for protecting Life, Liberty, and Property. It also needs to be able to correct and prevent overreach such as cronyism.
This leaves only perspective shifts within government as a reflection of the people’s motivation through a new Enlightenment to actively make positive change towards ending cronyism. The power lies in the people’s hands to change those in power, or become those in power, and the initial resources will be up to the market to decide. If it is possible to convince Congress to abide by the Constitution, then there would not be cronyism, so this could potentially be changed immediately by Congress but it is highly unlikely they will act since many of them currently benefit from the corruption of the system.
The first policy to propose is maintaining a unilateral form of justice and equality under the law within the US. It is an ongoing issue seen in the news and online that certain people and businesses are pardoned or exonerated of their crimes against others because of their status in society or state. The pro of this policy is that it would create more confidence in the US market, and nation as a whole, for investors and entrepreneurs around the world. When policies threaten the incentive of success, i.e. unjust high taxes for the wealthy over a certain income or even high taxes for everyone, it forces production to go to places that will benefit them the most.
The second policy to propose is to end all forms of favoritism and cronyism in the US. This would require a system overhaul of eliminating privileges, subsidies, class related protections, many business regulations and license requirements, etc. This often scares people into thinking chaos would emerge, but it can be demonstrated through the market that the market would begin to regulate itself as varying organizations and businesses that keep a watchful eye on the market will naturally sprout.
As Dr. Steve Horwitz points out, since Adam Smith and forward, “We do not need ‘regulation’ in the sense of State intervention for markets to generate socially beneficial outcomes. And when we do attempt to ‘regulate’ them through the State, the result is a variety of undesirable unintended consequences.” The pro of such a policy is that it creates an equal platform for everyone to compete in and benefit from a free market.
The con of such a policy is that some major companies will leave or fail because they will no longer be granted favoritism or cronyism. This could have a negative impact on the economy upon the immediacy of such an act, therefore it would require a strictly scheduled progression. Without a transitional period, many people in protected industries would lose jobs and money until they find work elsewhere. Due to the precarious nature of such a drastic and positive turn towards equality under the law and preventing favoritism, and for the mistakes made by those of the past, people will understandably need a transition into a freer market.
The rich are not getting richer, the poor are not getting poorer. Capitalism has helped not only those at the top, but it has surely helped most people escape abject poverty. Those that say otherwise and complain how capitalism has made the rich wealthier, should now consider how ending the greatest human social mechanism, i.e. capitalism, will help the poor.
If the wealthy have benefited drastically better than the poor, then it would behoove everyone to be a part of such a system. Viz., ending cronyism, rent-seeking, political power and regulations of labor unions, coercive monopolies, and various other regulations and license requirements in the market, etc. would benefit everyone in the long run, as tendencies towards free trade has already proven. This would also alleviate any of the governmental coercive means of income inequality, allowing for people to live and trade more freely. This is not faith in a system. Rather, this is allowing people to live and trade as they see fit, with a government that will protect those that are infringed upon, instead of favoring and benefiting a few.
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