Don't overlook the benefits of capitalism
Views 7 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 4 - 10 - 2019 | By: Addie Michaelian
The election of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on November 6, 2018 as a New York congresswoman, rocked the nation. A self-proclaimed democratic socialist, Cortez’s victory revealed the growing affinity for socialism in American culture. According to the Wall Street Journal, college students are increasingly open to the idea. Decried as unequal and oppressive, fashion dictates capitalism’s defamation. The charges brought against capitalism include inequality, a culture of consumerism, inability to stop climate change, etc. But while it is becoming increasingly popular to focus solely on the negative aspects of capitalism, we can’t forget the very real benefits.
A free-market capitalist system fosters greater political freedom. In a socialist economy, government becomes intimately involved in society and the lives of its citizens. While in some instances it is possible to have one without the other, political and economic freedom often come hand in hand. People have a greater ability to express opinions, especially unpopular opinions, when the government takes a backseat in society. A student’s ability to vote, express critiques of the current economic or governmental system, etc., is in part secured by capitalism.
Furthermore, a free market guards against the concentration of power in the hands of a few and safeguards people’s right of choice. Socialism requires the elites and bureaucrats within the government to acquire greater amounts of control because they oversee and plan the workings of the economy. Those who accuse capitalism of creating an elitist, wealthy class dictating the lives of the common worker fail to realize in reality socialism does just that, only the government becomes the elite, wealthy class. A free-market economy allows people the maximum amount of choice among a variety of options.
Capitalism encourages efficiency, quality, and innovation. Competition among corporations under the rule of law holds them accountable since each business must serve the consumer with quality goods at the better price, in the shortest amount of time. It is difficult for government owned entities to compete fairly with privately owned corporations because bias is almost inevitable when the government has a monopoly on the law and coercion. Further, government run industries do not have much incentive to operate efficiently since they are less able to fail according to normal market processes. Students who work hard to become entrepreneurs deserve a fair playing field with true competition.
While people may concede the above benefits of free-market capitalism, still they argue that capitalism just isn’t compassionate. At Westmont, I believe many students object to aspects of capitalism and argue in favor of certain socialist policies because of this fact: anti-poverty welfare policies and those aimed at reducing income inequality appear to be the most compassionate option. Christ commands us to care for the needy; however, this act of generosity is done out of a free and willing spirit. Coerced charity is not compassion. Government redistribution and welfare efforts steal the personal love for the recipient from an act of generosity.
A free-market capitalist system fosters political freedom, acts as a check on concentrated power, encourages efficiency, and allows for true, heartfelt compassion. In the midst of a generation that is somewhat enamored with socialism, let’s not overlook these benefits.