Capitalism and America: A True Love Story

Chelsea Powell;

Freedom is a relative expression that can never be given completely to anyone. Even in a capitalist society, such as America, freedom becomes limited, but that is in the nature of any society ruled by any form of government. Just as America’s democracy limits freedom in a way that still allows Americans more rights than any other form of government, “…capitalism is the most reasonable choice among the various economic systems” (On Truth and Trade), giving Americans more freedom than any other form of economy save that of distribution.

Where capitalism and distribution differ is in government interference. Those in favor of distribution support a strong lack of government interference, instead opting for a fix-it-yourself type of economy. In a distribution based economy, widely dispersed property is the answer to all problems. With everyone bearing property, and power of course following property wherever it goes, the riches are dispersed amongst everyone. No need for the government to step in at all. And with all the problems government interference brings, it’s no wonder that they do not want any of it. Even a minimum wage, meant of course to help Americans, only forces the large corporations to outsource, or even worse, not hire at all. What Americans “want from an economic system is that it generate and distribute resources in a way that maximizes the long-run probability that all members of society have enough goods and services to lead decent lives” (On Truth and Trade). Distributions seems to fulfill all of these requirements while giving Americans plenty of freedom, so why is this not America’s full time economy?

Capitalism makes a strong case for itself with its principle for individual rights even with government interference, and that government interference itself helps to provide more freedom for certain members of society. This could all be a bunch of bologna and just the American government wanting more control over the economy; however it becomes apparent that this statement does hold its weight. For all it’s worth, the American government does help members of society, usually the middle class, who can hold their jobs securely. The minimum wage, previously disregarded, creates a minimum that American workers must be paid. And for Americans that have jobs this becomes a wonderful thing. The government also defines and protects property rights, because property is power after all, and without government protection of property Americans would almost positively become savages, with those desperate enough because they have nothing fighting against those who have too much. The government enforces contracts as well, and settles disputes, usually through the force of law. Governments also interfere with cases of externalities, both good and bad. Either by prohibiting certain factories from polluting the environment or subsidizing educational institutions that do not otherwise receive any form of compensation, this form of government interference benefits society, or at least the majority of society as a whole.

One of the downsides concerning government interference with the economy that is a result of a previously mentioned problem is how minimum wage only helps those of the middle class or Americans who can maintain a job. This leaves a poor and somewhat defenseless lower class of society, but that does not mean that they cannot be helped. One of the beautiful aspects of a capitalistic society is the opportunity for Americans, especially those with enough means, to help those of the lower class. Instead of equal distribution of all wealth by force, it is sharing the wealth by choice. With organizations such as the Salvation Army, North Texas Food Bank, and Red Cross that take donations from Americans and use that money to help the lower classes it is hard to think that the poor are left alone to face a problem that they sometimes cannot help. Whether it is from disabilities, age or any other factor that prevents a person from attaining the means necessary to survive, every American has the opportunity to receive the help they need. Even the government helps with its social welfare policies provided for Americans based from need, not want. Medicare is given to every American 65 years or older, not matter what gender, ethnicity or personal wealth. Yes Americans are taxed to pay for the social welfare policies and taxes are not optional, but the government does not usually ask for donations either. These policies go towards the greater good of society, the money comes from those with enough to go towards those who do not have enough, and only capitalism performs this system effectively.

Capitalism in America seems the best option for the economy, however America does not have a solely capitalistic economy. “A pure capitalism has never been tried and never will be” (On Truth and Trade), because a true capitalist economy demands the very best of every member of society and rewards him or her accordingly. In America that is not the case at all, but there lies the opportunity for any individual from any community to rise up through the levels of society and, whether through hard work and dedication or luck, become a member of the highest class of America. Capitalism allows this, unlike almost every other type of economy, because it rewards hard work, most of the time, with appropriate promotions. Barack Obama is a prime example of moving up in society, and doing so during a time when a black person could have trouble finding a job at all. Obama gained the freedom to decide his own fate, and not to sound too much like Aristotle, he worked towards securing his own happiness and final end.

The voluntary aspect of capitalism proves to be one of its best features, as people such as Obama have discovered. No one is forced to do anything, to become anything or to produce anything. If an American wants a job they have every right to obtain one to the best of their abilities. A stay at home mother can choose to not have a job for as long as she wants and to return to work whenever she wants. Personal freedom is nearly unlimited, at least as far as the economy goes. The stay at home mother has the option to stay at home, but she also might need the money and return to work, but again that is optional. Americans can be known for making some bad decisions, and sometimes a person chooses not to get a job and ends up on the street. It is not the desired life for anyone, but it comes from personal choices, which freedom gives. The government could force everyone to work, and then obviously everyone would have a job and make money, but most likely the majority of people would be unhappy. Capitalism gives individuals the chance to find their own happiness.

The history of capitalism speaks for itself. This economic style has allowed people freedoms they otherwise would never have received. Capitalist economies of the last couple of centuries “have lifted up from abject poverty hundreds of millions of human beings and allowed them to enjoy a superabundance of goods and services” (On Truth and Trade), that they would otherwise have never been given. Under capitalism most people enjoy an overall better standard of life, with healthier families and better opportunities for advancement. Limited inequalities of wealth and overall better productivity in society translate easily into a generally perfect economic system. Of course America’s mostly capitalist economy is not perfect, but as far as economies go, America’s is definitely one of the best.

Personal freedoms in capitalist economies are limited, yes, but limited so insignificantly that it is an irrelevant argument against capitalism. With such positive effects on society and the individual it seems implausible to reform the economy into something better. Opportunities for advancement and acceptance of personal choices are distinguishing features of capitalism and proof of its overall excellence. If “democracy is the worst form of government except for all others” (On Truth and Trade), then capitalism is the worst form of economy; except, of course, that of every other form of economy.

Works Cited

“The Capitalism Site.” The Capitalism Site. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2012.

“THE FREEDOM POST.” : WHY CAPITALISM WORKS BEST. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2012.

“Google Images.” Google Images. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2012.

“The History of Capitalism.” In the United States. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2012.

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