Thoughts on Capitalism

Some recent conversations I’ve had with a few of my liberal friends have led me to the following thought about opponents of Capitalism: Exactly what are you expecting from an economic system?  The arguments for why Capitalism is a “failure” that I’ve heard are generally that it doesn’t promote a positive understanding of human value.  I’ve been told that Capitalism makes people too consumed with, well, consuming; that it tells people that they can’t be happy unless they are buying something new and shiny every five minutes.  I’ve been told Capitalism needs an overhaul because it turns people into mindless intake machines that don’t care about the needs of others.  To those people, I have this question:

How exactly is any of that the fault of Capitalism?

You know that saying that guns don’t kill people; how you can’t blame the intentions of the user on the tool used?  Well, the same applies here.  Capitalism is not responsible for the actions of people.  If people allow themselves to be easily swayed by flashy commercials and blow all their hard-earned money on things they don’t need then who’s really at fault; the system or the people?  These arguments against Capitalism have nothing to do with the system but rather personal problems.  Capitalism can’t be blamed for personal shortcomings just like cars can’t be blamed for wrecks, guns can’t be blamed for shootings and so on.

The fact is that more people have risen from rags to riches under Capitalism than any other system in history.  When you look at other civilizations throughout history, no other set of people has ever had the chance that people under Capitalism do.  A free market gives people the chance to meet their potential and use their talents to create their own wealth.  Saying that Capitalism fails because of the personal shortcomings of individuals is not an argument against the system.  These arguments against Capitalism present problems that no system could ever hope to fix.


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September 2010
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