Does Being Less Free Enable Us To Reach Happiness?


Haley Gilligan-Period 7

Capitalism, and therefore free trade, makes us less able to reach our final end of happiness. Capitalism and free market go hand in hand when discussing the economy. Our ultimate end to achieve happiness is to fulfill our function. It is highly improbable that there will ever be trade without government interference in the market at any point in time. Having free trade/a free market makes us more able to reach happiness due to the fact that it aids in our understanding and capability of fulfilling our function as humans. Once the capitalistic mind set was set into place, mass production occurred to account for the need of the large masses. Capitalism is a system where the means of production and distribution are either own by an individual or by companies. The profit gained by this is directly correlated with the earnings from the free market.  

Capitalism will eventually break itself down and is therefore unreliable as a source for our ultimate happiness. Considering that it coincides with free trade then it essentially relates to a ticking time bomb. One never knows what will happen in the economy and it would be erroneous to depend solely on trade for income and the success rate of this economic system. Obviously it is necessary to have the knowledge of trade and how to properly do so; such as, knowing whom to trade with so that it benefits both parties in its full capacity. However, it is also necessary to be able to know how to thrive without trade. It is understandable that one must trade at times to be able to reduce their opportunity cost. Moreover, it is also vital to understand that relations with other parties are never completely stable and reliable. Factors are changing constantly, whether it be the cost of production of the goods, trading fees (taxes), or the pay of the employees that are making the product.

“The employees themselves are the customers consuming the much greater part of all goods produced” (Ludwig von Mises).  According to von Mises, in the economy the owner of the company/factory is not the boss- the consumer is. This statement reflects the fact that capitalism makes us less free due to the fact that it is based exclusively on the profits of free trade. If the consumer does not buy the product, then the earnings of the factory would decrease exponentially over time. However, we as citizens are constricted to certain options when it comes to particular products. Though there are some products that are made by multiple factories, not all products are the same way. If an item must come in a form of a trade, then the consumer is even more so limited in choices.

The only way man can be free is if he pays a price. It is unfair that we as man must have to pay a price for something that should already be a given. “There are no prizes in this universe that can be won without sacrifices” (Ludwig von Mises). There is always going to be restrictions and limitations when it comes to trade, and anything for that matter, because of guidelines the government has put into place. Though it would be much easier to trade without government interference, there will eternally be some type of interference due to laws; those laws may belong to either of the two sites from which the trading is occurring.

According to Marx in the Manifesto of the Communist Party, due to capitalism small workshops have been converted to large factories. It is inevitable that the employees be exploited as a result of the great number of them being needed to aid in the creation of the products. There are an abundance of workers that are crammed into different sections of the facility to perform their specific task. The development and success rate of capitalist companies depends wholly on how productive not only they are, but also the productivity of the company in which they are trading with. This is specifically why it is not in the best interest to depend only on trade. You should be able to thrive without being reliant on others that are not a part of the company/factory. Owners inevitably dumb down jobs by division of labor—employees are paid less and less. Though this sounds unjust, this is how our economic system/society will still function.

Another reason it’d be best to not have a free market is because with the involvement of the government, it can allocate resources in the way it deems that benefits the greater good. Monopolies and oligopolies form without fear of legal repercussion which therefore leads inefficiencies which make us less free because then man has less resources due to the unequal manner in which they were distributed. In today’s society we have a free market, and it is highly unlikely that we will ever have a completely free market due to the grave role the government plays in divvying resources and having guidelines that monitor and control trade. The government though makes questionable decisions in the eyes of some, after all is the government and the leaders have their positions for a reason…they know what they are talking about and doing.

In our free market there is motivation to work hard, so you can maximize profits, thus enabling you to invest in happiness. Though you are investing in ultimately fulfilling your function, you are still less free because it is more plausible that you become trapped in lower class if you fail to succeed. Since the government takes part in the market, they know external factors and can therefore put price adjustments into place. We are free to a certain point; however, having a free market makes us less free considering that decisions that affect us are not actually made by us, but by others.

Capitalism relates to free market in that it makes us less free considering that in both situations we are dependent on other parties, rather than ourselves in situations that impact our lives. Though at times with free market it affects us in a positive manner, capitalism may also do the same. However, with capitalism also comes the responsibility to have a true understanding of the economy and to grasp the concept of how to have a booming gain and have a prospering company. If this isn’t accomplished quickly after the company is established then it will fail. As citizens, capitalist companies decrease in us being free and hinder our happiness due to the fact that it makes us dependent on something that is unstable and unsure. Why would we want that? It makes much more sense to rely on something that is steady and enables us to have a secure future.

Yet another reason free market makes us less free and is therefore less desirable is because companies are using workers from other countries instead of using people from here. This is due to foreigners working for less money or for the fact that they are more efficient in a specific department. This is limiting the jobs that we can have, we are given the options of being the owners of companies, over worked employee, or being unemployed altogether. Our freedom keeps diminishing and lessening day by day.

While it can certainly be argued that the free market is conducive to achieving personal happiness, due to the freedom to do as you choose and spend your resources to your benefit. However, many aspects needed for happiness are only offered via a government system being in place. This is why it is essential to have government involvement because if the government did not play the role it did, it would simply be unconventional. Free trade and capitalism though having positive repercussions, conclusively lead to us being less free due to the negative effects being greater than the positive ones.





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