Capitalism – a defense

Capitalism. By many, it is seen as a great evil. For the last four years, I have seen an increase in the number of students who self-identify as socialists. This semester is no exception. Although the summer semester is only in the first week of courses, I’ve already been asked how I can support capitalism. This is not a new question and is one that I answer at least three times during the average semester. And each time I am asked, I not only defend capitalism but explain why it works. I also explain why capitalism is the only economic principle where true personal liberty is protected and thrives.

 The “surge” of capitalism

It’s difficult for me not to turn this into a three-hundred page rant. All it takes is watching the evening news to see the hypocritical nature of the young socialist. The group, Anti-fa, is possibly the most visible pro-socialist group in the United States. In nearly every news broadcast that features them, they are visibly benefiting from the fruits of capitalism. their iPhones, their computers used to post their anti-capitalist rants, and their Western clothing are all the results of capitalism. Anti-fa claims to be anti-fascist but by its demands are actually fascist within themselves if the strictest fdefinition of fascism is used. Fascism, in the strictest definition, is a form of radical authoritarian nationalism, characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and control of industry and commerce… [1]

What makes this brand of fascism unique to the Twenty-first Century is the combination with socialism – the concept of collective ownership and collective census. This new hybrid of fascism and socialism found in Anti-fa makes it a far-left group. It’s members reacts violently when confronted with alternative viewpoints to their own. Consider the recent treatment given to the UCLA-Berkely where Milo Yiannopoulos, a gay man who is well known for his defense of capitalism and conservative values, was forced to cancel an event. [2] Again, this was done as a means of silencing viewpoints that are contrary to Anti-fa’s purpose.

The thorns of capitalism

In American history, 1877 is known as the “year of the strikes.” Some of the nation’s most costly strikes – in both lives and in economic loss – happened in that year. Even today, we often hear the leadership of the Democratic Party and the various labor unions feeding on the economic fears of the working class. The message has remained the same – you’re being left out of capitalism. The ones who own the factories aren’t paying you your fair share of the profits. Someone is not paying their fair share of taxes. The wealthy keep getting richer while the poor are getting poorer… The list could literally become a blog of its own. The labor unions and the Democratic Party (since the 1960s) promote the idea that only socialism can solve our nation’s problems. [3] The chief complaint from socialists about capitalism is the inequality of wealth it creates. But what socialists fail to understand are those factors that directly lead to wealth inequality.

During the early part of the Twentieth Century, the International Workmen of the World had a broad appeal among America’s blue-collar workers. As part of its socialist platform, it advocated public ownership of utilities, transportation, and the “means of production.”[4] By doing this, all profits from the government owned and operated factories would be divided equally among the workers. This organization, along with its earlier counterparts, transformed how the American employee (one hired to work by an employer) understood their relation to the corporate machinery. Instead of seeing themselves as offering a commodity – their labor – for sale for a price (a wage), they saw themselves as a worker being exploited by the owner. In other words, the very Marxist concept of the proletariat being held captive by the bourgeoisie.

Understanding the real issues with capitalism

Capitalism increases the individual employee’s standard of living through their dedication to the job. It rewards those who are self-motivated and determined. From the writings of John Locke, he explained that life, liberty, and pursuit of property were the right of all of humankind. [5] Within his writings, he discusses that when a man is employed by another, his labor is traded in exchange for specie (money). This is the basis of labor under capitalism. The more skilled an employee is, the more valuable the laborer is to the employer. At the heart of this system, the emphasis is placed on the employee to become a more valuable employee so their wages increase proportionally to their increased value. The lower skills a specific job requires, the lower wages will be earned by those within that occupation.

This is what the common complaint against capitalism is always brought into question. Within more recent times, there has been a movement to raise the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour. The basis of the argument, since the movement first gained national attention, is the minimum wage jobs, mainly in the fast food industry. In late 2014, Seattle became the first American city to require the $15.00 minimum wage. [6] Those supporting such a high minimum wage were citing the plight of the American working poor who spend an entire career working in minimum wage jobs. The fast food industry pays low wages because it does not require any advanced skills for employment. Leftists claim it is a problem with the tenants of capitalism itself. They do not believe the employee bears any responsibility for their own financial well-being.

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