The Freer the Markets the Freer the People
Since the industrial revolution, the words of Adam Smith the economist and philosopher have echoed through our minds voluntarily or otherwise. His basic principles of free trade, the specialization of production, and the building of public infrastructure are what have built the west and made is the most powerful political entity on the world stage.
Free-Market capitalism, or just capitalism, is the economic philosophy that is characterized by individuals making choices and private ownership of business. Through this system every person gets to choose their own path and in the process we get people who work on what they do best. It’s a recipe for success. There are upsides and downsides to capitalism though…
First, let’s cover the cons. Capitalism does a terrible job of distributing wealth in a way where everyone has something. It’s because by definition capitalism is a system of exploitation in its worst form. It creates huge wealth disparity between the very poor and the very rich. With all this in mind, why is it still the economic system driving the sole world superpower, the United States?
Capitalism as does a great job of lifting people out of poverty. Up until the Industrial Revolution 95% of the world’s population lived in poverty, earning less than $1 a day. Today that number is down to 19.5% and still dropping at an amazing rate. In addition, it rewards those who have good ideas, work hard and pursue their dreams, a stark difference from feudal Europe where you could be executed for having a good idea that others disagreed with. If you look out your window, you will see a road. That road was built with the public financing which is only in place because of the capitalist philosophy. If businesses, goods, services, and people didn’t need to move around freely, to promote economic growth we wouldn’t have the extensive roads, railways, and waterways we have today.
Looking at capitalism in more of a sociological way, we can see it creates a certain culture. The free market also promoted democracy and the free expression of our ideas. Is it really a coincidence that the countries who have a better human rights record as have the free-est economies? I don’t think so, and the countries who treat their people terribly have strong regulations that restrict the movement of goods and services, what about them?
Even though it creates a culture in which the hard-working are rewarded and everyone may speak their mind; free market capitalism has a challenger and one that’s making considerable gains. Authoritarian capitalism or what many or neo-communism is a political philosophy that has been deeply rooted in China for the last three decades and is making considerable gains in the ex-soviet states like that of Kazakhstan and Russia. China is the success story of the modern age in terms of neo-communism and whose economy may surpass that of the U.S. in a number of years.
I would say everything aside capitalism isn’t going away anytime soon, and that’s a good thing. If I were to pinpoint my favorite part of capitalism, it would be the values of liberty and freedom that are burned into its most basic philosophy. It’s what’s brought us movies and great ideas; the washing machine and the personal computer. Capitalism does a great job of letting the individual shine and be just that: an individual. There beauty in that, there really is and no economic system rivals it, and no one ever will.