Free markets are moral, not the lesser of two evils


SACRAMENTO — The past two weeks, this column has been obsessed with “socialism” because the concept has suddenly become fashionable again on the left. I brought up the devastation of various socialistic experiments, but was met with a variety of rebuttals. Some critics view socialism as something warm and fuzzy (free health care, like in Sweden!), while others drip with hostility at the inequality of market-based economic systems. There was widespread agreement, however, that U.S.-style capitalism has somehow failed.

There’s even a strain of conservatism — including some thinkers who have bolstered the Trump presidency — that is dismissive of capitalism. In January, this column focused on Fox News’ commentator Tucker Carlson, who argued that “Any economic system that weakens and destroys families is not worth having.” Many social conservatives dislike capitalism because it undermines their cultural values by promoting materialism, vulgarity and hedonism.

Even those in the political center, who might be expected to boisterously defend the market, have some doubts. They seem to view capitalism as a “lesser of two evils” and not a good in itself. New York Times columnist David Brooks in January defended capitalism, but described the way it has turned society into “an atomized collection of individual economic units pursuing self-interest.” He called for embedding it with “moral norms” to serve a “larger social good.”

In the words of my Russian grandmother, who was driven off her property by a government unconstrained by property rights or limits on its power, “Feh.” That’s a Yiddish term of disgust. Before you start penning your email, let’s get this out of the way: Obviously, the American system is no more a pure capitalist system than the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was a pure socialistic system. Even those vaunted Nordic countries aren’t exactly what people think. They are more capitalistic than America in some ways, although they have higher levels of social spending.

We’re talking generalities. Socialism puts the government in control of the economic system and redistributes wealth as the political authorities see fit. Some socialistic countries allowed the ownership of tightly regulated businesses and private property, while others didn’t. Market capitalism lets individuals and companies make society’s key economic decisions as they pursue — gasp! — profit. Every modern “capitalistic” system has extensive government regulation of the private sector. They all tax people and provide redistributionist programs.

Nothing is pure, but people like me — libertarians — believe there should …read more

Source:: Dailynews – News


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