Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Liberals Don't Hate Capitalism

There are many times when I discuss politics with someone either personally or over some form of social media, and I often get called something like Socialist or Communist or some other "derogatory" term that basically denotes that I'm a Fascist...or in this context, controlling.  Here's why I, as a liberal person, love capitalism:

1) Capitalism equips the participants in the economy with job skills which are intrinsic across all sectors of the economy.  This means that there are skills unique to employment that are only learnable from having a job.  If we didn't have jobs, we wouldn't learn these useful skills like interpersonal interactions, customer service, communication skills unique to employment settings, and teamwork.  All these skills are necessary to ensure that workers can succeed.

2) Capitalism provides a social service to the economy.  Employment, for the last 60 years has been the origin of benefits and privileges geared towards the health and well-being of the worker and it's family.  This created incentive to remain with companies for the long term, providing for the worker's retirement, and ensuring a safe, stable, long-term employment setting.

3) Capitalism nurtures innovation through investment.  Even Karl Marx, the mastermind of Das Capital and The Communist Manifesto postulated that Capitalists' strive for efficiency and thrift, as well as competition would drive the advancement of technology.  That advancement would eventually lead to an age in humanity where man would either only have to work a little, or not at all and could work as he or she chose in a field he or she chose.  So the virtues of capitalism were not lost on Karl Marx, which further accents his very odd and unorthodox mind which was mired in contradictions such as this one.

4) Capitalism provides the resources necessary for government to function.  Employment and spending generates tax revenues for local governments.  Such resources are useful for creating systems and infrastructures which benefit all citizens regardless of their individual ability to pay for them personally.  Are are a fair number of items that Liberals believe fall in the realm of "The Commons."  Such Commons resources are things like Education, Law Enforcement, Emergency Services, Water and Air Supplies, roads, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure  power utilities of specific types.  The point being is that while right-wing economic thinkers and more left-leaning economic thinkers can agree on some of these, the differences between Conservative/Libertarian thought and Liberal/Moderate conservative thought is how many of these circles to include as part of the Public Commons.  The lessons of Soviet Russia were not lost on Liberals.  But bear in mind...by definition, Soviet Russian and other similar style governments are not the type of Communism that was described by Karl Marx.  Karl Marx opposed state control over information, censorship, and arbitrary cultural regulations which he believed were none of "The State's" business.  The type of governments that we observed in Communist Russia, China, and Cuba, are no less that Totalitarian Governments which had their iron grip on everything.  Capitalism isn't evil, but sometimes bad people use good things to do bad things...and that is what tarnishes the reputation of systems that have great promise to be widely popular and successful.

5) Liberals believe in capitalism that functions for everyone, not just a few, and not just the wealthy.  Liberals will long concede that capitalists provide a great service to the economy.  They provide jobs, pay wages, research technology, and nurture innovation.  However, these great benefits do not excuse abuses by the elite in our economic system.  The robbery of workers by their employers, such as Hostess, Enron, and other firms which engaged in illegal activities to rob their employees' pensions, have no place in capitalism.  Liberals, while embracing capitalism as a necessary function, will not let such practices go without a consequence and rule put in place to ensure it doesn't happen again.

6)  Liberals embrace a more moderated form of capitalism.  Even Milton Friedman agreed that the court system in this nation is sorely deficient to enforce the rules on the books.  He also argued that Government is the neutral arbiter between the firm and the consumer, impartially enforcing the law when it's violated, and justly punishing whichever party is guilty of engaging in immoral or illegal activity.  He believed in stronger and more numerous courts with sharper teeth and broader powers to enforce the rules of the market place to ensure it's integrity and credibility.  We have deregulated the justice of the market to the private market itself.  Conservatives and Libertarians cling the Law of Perfect Markets, believing with unwavering fervor that the market's price is the perfect price.  Liberals also believe this, but with reservations.  Many Liberals believe that the sways and crashes of Capitalism can be destructive when a third party isn't looking over their shoulder to ensure that three things are present:  A) Access to information for both buyer and seller, B) Honest Exchanges, and C) Legal Exchanges.  If these things are not present in an economic exchange, then The Law of Perfect Markets cannot be applied.  And it also cannot be defended for a particular circumstance without those three criteria.  So Liberals don't hate the market system, the just believe in a fairer one which companies have to disclose information for the public good, health, and safety, and that companies should interact with their market participants with honest, ethics, and integrity.


The Conservative/Libertarian market thinker believes that the free-er the market, the free-er the people.  This is both correct and misleading at the same time.  The law of natural liberties, postulated by Adam Smith was dependent on mankind being just, moral, and benevolent to his fellow men.  In Adam Smith's eyes, the transfer of wealth should be intrinsic and consistent.  While he opposed government regulating wages on the grounds that it was artificial, he also conceded as well that regulation of the market to punish cheaters, thieves, and corruption was necessary and proper for government to protect the public good, and the systematic good of Capitalism itself.  Smith was a moralist as much as a capitalist.  His work, The Wealth of Nations was a baseline for a pragmatic system of government and business working collectively for the mutual benefit of society.  The focus of Adam Smith's analysis was people, and their well being.

Today's world is full of leaders in the business world who are corrupt, unkind, and outright evil.  Such individuals do not embody the system Adam Smith or other moral economists strove to create.  It was exactly those kinds of people that Adam Smith believed would destroy capitalism due to their greed.  He was against hoarding wealth and doing nothing with it.  He wanted wealthier persons to donate and give and spend on ventures that built up those who had nothing.  But a system such as this is, I believe a beautiful notion, but a relatively unrealistic one.  It would take a massive shift in social thinking and economic policy, reforms in the justice system, a government that was more populist and less geared towards business interests to enforce this system of markets as Adam Smith divined.  So the only option that is left is a system of Capitalism with a ref hovering over their shoulders that is ready to pounce on anyone who injures a market participant or steals from the capitalist.  Market Capitalism is a great force in our society, and I want it to succeed.  I just want everyone to benefit from it as well.  And to accomplish this end, we must, with unity of purpose and thought, fight for a less corrupt, less closed market which enables opportunity to flourish and grow and persist for generations to come.


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