It is true that free market capitalism is the best system for promoting human development and prosperity.
It is therefore not surprising that many free market supporters extol the dynamism of capitalism. However, by making this utilitarian defense of capitalism, the defenders could also cede the moral position to the socialists.
The importance of the moral argument
Demonstrating the impracticability of socialism is necessary, but it is also an ineffective strategy to galvanize goodwill for capitalism, because objections to capitalism are usually based on moral reasons. Unfortunately, even sober critics of socialism can reject capitalism on the pretext that it is inhuman and functions as a means to enrich the elite. Therefore, libertarian hymns to the superiority of free market capitalism can be misinterpreted as a justification for elitist rule. To improve the reputation of capitalism, market advocates must remind opponents that it is a moral system based on freedom and voluntary participation. Critics’ protests notwithstanding, the essence of capitalism is choice, not profits.
A quest for profit?
Mark O’Connell, in a critical review of capitalism, poignantly elucidates the thesis that capitalism is above all a quest for profit: “The priority under capitalism is always profit, and so we must somehow on the other hand, prioritize what is profitable, even if it is at the expense of other necessities, such as living a meaningful or spiritually fulfilling life. ”
O’Connell’s caricature of capitalism is widely accepted across the political spectrum, though it has no real basis. Profits make entrepreneurs keep their businesses running, but properly understood capitalism is not about money.
Since libertarians and other advocates of free markets frequently promulgate utilitarian arguments in favor of capitalism, most critics assume that supporters of capitalism are obsessed with accumulating wealth.
For example, some advocates of let it go (correctly) argue that a higher minimum wage limits employment opportunities for young people. But it’s important to denigrate minimum wage laws not only because of their propensity to destroy jobs, but because legal wage mandates violate the basic human rights of human beings who enter into private deals in the best interests. mutual. Minimum wage laws represent the intrusion of contractual partnerships by the state. As moral agents, we have the capacity to choose, hence the establishment of such laws deprives us of our capacity to exercise choice.
If a young person in desperate need of a job and a struggling small business owner agree to a certain hourly rate, it is inappropriate for the state to repeal individual rights by making that contract ineligible. While research indicates that minimum wage mandates have no impact on employment, supporting them would still be reprehensible on moral grounds. Therefore, it remains important to oppose minimum wage laws on moral grounds. Unless minimum wage requirements are voluntarily implemented by professional groups or by individual workers, they are simply unfair.
Likewise, pontificating that high tax rates discourage capital formation and economic growth is an inelegant argument in favor of capitalism. Tax increases must be condemned, even when researchers cannot demonstrate any harm to innovation or economic growth. After all, citizens already tolerate many state excesses imposed simply by the levy and collection of personal income tax. all rate.
For the government to suggest that the better-off should pay even higher taxes under the guise of promoting the common good is more cheeky. Such a proposition suggests that the state is entitled to the wealth of citizens; however, nothing could be further from the truth.
Likewise, trade restrictions are black beast free market economists. So, not surprisingly, they have provided a plethora of studies praising the beneficial effects of free trade. For example, leading economists Donald J. Boudreaux and Nita Ghei in a report published by the Mercatus Center insightfully point out the benefits of free trade:
- Free trade improves efficiency and innovation. Over time, free trade works with other market processes to move workers and resources to more productive uses, thus allowing more efficient industries to thrive. The results are higher wages, investments in areas such as infrastructure and a more vibrant economy that continues to create new jobs and opportunities.
- Free trade is the engine of competitiveness. Free trade requires American businesses and workers to adapt to the changing demands of the global marketplace. But these adjustments are key to staying competitive, and competition is what fuels long-term growth.
These statements are quite powerful; however, any assertion of capitalism must rest on moral assumptions. The pernicious nature of protectionism is revealed in its ability to deny consumers the right to choose. It is a grave injustice for politicians to determine the goods and services consumed by citizens. By aiding protectionism, the state reduces the diversity of products offered to consumers, thus indirectly depriving them of their right to exercise their choice. Essentially, the hypocrisy is blatantly evident when socialists castigate authoritarian regimes for banning Facebook in the name of national unity, but defend protectionism on the altar of national good. Both acts are a flagrant violation of the right to choose. Obviously, those who wish to preserve freedom must choose capitalism.
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