Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Anti-capitalism - The Evil Idea

September 12th in Washington DC was an amazingly beautiful, sunny day with a mild temperature, one of the most beautiful days I have ever experienced. There I was on this historic day walking down Pennsylvania Avenue with thousands of other freedom loving people. Their ages ranged from babies in carriages to 97-year old seniors. On the horizon, the Capitol Building was a small dot that slowly grew in size as we approached. It was the first time I had ever seen this building with my own eyes. This day was more than a teachable moment; it was a realization that I was not alone, that there were millions of Americans like me who did not want to transform our country into a socialist state, millions of people who understood that the freedoms acknowledged by our Constitution should be left alone rather than replaced by the proposed communal degradation of our society.

Yet, the walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, as wonderful as it was, as eye-opening as it was, did help me see the enemy more clearly too. The enemy is also our educational system. Yes, that enemy was on display on the sidewalks leading to the Capitol Building.

As we got closer, I noticed about 10 young men walking in formation on the sidewalk. Each of them wore a black business suit and tie while the group chanted, “Capitalism works…for us. Capitalism works...for us.” There it was in front of my eyes: ignorance and stupidity coming from young people who should have been educated better. The message these young men were sending is that capitalism only works for the rich, and that the poor are destroyed by the system. Why is the economic system that has made our country a world leader in virtually every field, being denigrated and lied about in our schools? When did our schools become bastions of anti-capitalism? When did our schools become the promoters of lies?

Is capitalism good only for businesspeople as these young men implied? Who are these businesspeople for whom capitalism works? They are Americans born into families like those into which these young men were born. For instance, I’m a small businessperson who was born of a poor family. I experienced poverty first hand and because my father was able to work out of poverty, I too had an opportunity to be successful. I was one of the “us” for whom capitalism works. I don’t know anyone that I’ve exploited in the process.

Today’s anti-capitalists believe that profits are stolen from those who did not earn it. Is this true? Are profits theft? The best way to answer this question is to identify how profits are generated. The entrepreneurial capitalist must not only come up with a great idea that people will want to buy; but he must also finance and organize the operation of the business so expenses are less than the revenue. How does he do it? He has a business plan that enables him/her to perform a particular activity for a given price. If people see a benefit in purchasing the product, they will give up some of their money for it. This benefit for the consumer might involve saving time, energy or money.

Where does the money come from that makes up the capitalist’s profit? It does not come from theft. On the contrary, it comes from the value that the entrepreneur makes possible for the consumer. The consumer values the saved time, saved energy, additional convenience or leisure that comes from the use of the product, so much so that he is willing to give his money to the entrepreneur in trade. In other words, the benefit of buying the product is worth more to the buyer than the money in his pocket. Whether the product consists of a labor saving device such as a car, a faster way to mow the lawn, such as a new lawn mower, the relaxation and better health that comes from a massage, or a plane ticket to Cancun, the value gained by the purchaser is worth more than the money spent. It is the idea that creates value.

Marxist theory states that the only value added to a product is the labor expended on it by the worker. According to this view, the capitalist’s profits are stolen from the worker. Since Marx and Engels first wrote on this topic, many economists have thoroughly discredited the labor theory of value. If you want to decide for yourself, I would suggest the works of Böhm-Bawerk and Mises for starters.

Who would teach our children the lie that capitalism is an evil system? Obviously it is people who have been accredited as teachers and who think that their studies have confirmed the conclusion that capitalism is evil. But do their studies really prove the point? What about the fact that we have one of the most advanced standards of living in the world?

What is inside the soul of an anti-capitalist? Is it the desire to make a better world? Does the elimination of capitalism actually make a better world? What was the world like before capitalism? No, I think the anti-capitalist has a different motivation; it is the motivation of a soulless person, someone who sees the image of a thinker, an independent mind, a person striving for success and, rather than admiring that image, hating it; and more, rather than merely hating it, wanting to see it suffer and die.

Yes, hatred of the good, the clean, the intelligent is at the heart of anti-capitalism. It takes great men (and women) to create great industries. It takes independence to put one’s savings on the line and bring a great new idea to market. It takes intelligence to come up with a great idea that would make the lives of people better, and it takes self-confidence to offer people a product that improves life. Only hatred would want to stop better living. Only hatred could move a person to scream that the capitalist is a thief, a charlatan and a deceiver. In fact, it takes a thief, a charlatan and a deceiver to be an anti-capitalist.

All one has to do is look around to see that capitalism’s success is unprecedented in the history of the world. No anti-capitalist has ever given an explanation for this affluence. No anti-capitalist has convincingly proposed another system that will create the level of affluence we have achieved with capitalism. And they never will because their goal is not to learn how to improve life; their goal is to bring down capitalism; to bring down life.

Anti-capitalists, including these young men walking in tandem, do not realize their role in history as destroyers. Once you outlaw the bases of capitalism, individual rights and property rights, you are left with only coercion, government force. You are left with central planning which has never worked through out history. Their anti-capitalist hatred makes them dupes who ignores the most atrocious and immoral acts that happen in the name of anti-capitalism; they have put themselves in the position where they have become blind to the damage done by re-distribution, corruption, nepotism, force and plunder.

Our educational system is making ignoramuses of our young people. And because of the education they have been given, because they have been taught what to think rather than how to question, it is these young people whose futures are being washed down the proverbial drain by the spending of the Obama administration. Someday they will look at the decay and despair in society and they will not realize that it was their own anti-capitalism that caused it.


  1. The anti-thesis you build in this essay is false. Anti-capitalists aren't protesting small businesses or the use-value of products and services, i.e. the Real Economy you and your family belong to. They are protesting the wild speculation and unregulated risk that takes place on Wall Street, where the wealthiest 1%, insulated by their accumulated wealth, gamble with the livelihoods of the workers and consumers that made them rich in the first place. (Please note that progressives and leftists were protesting the business practices of the World Banking system a decade before the Tea Party woke up and smelled the coffee.)

    I celebrate the risk you took to establish your own small business. It should be noted that progressives have always supported loans and government help to small businesses, in addition to supporting things like a minimum wage and anti-trust laws, which are, in effect, limitations placed upon the freedom of the market designed to minimize exploitation.

    Anti-capitalists don't hate the real value markets create in the world. They hate the fake bubbles of speculation and temporary growth that allow the richest 1% to line their pockets, shelter that money off-shore, and run for the hills when the walls come crashing in. Anti-capitalists don't hate creativity and profit. They hate the ABUSES of capitalism.

    Capitalism must be regulated in order to function properly. Enron and Madoff prove this. Capitalism is not the same thing as freedom. And, as China proves, capitalism is not inherently democratic. Capitalism is not life.

    You are right that capitalism was a great thing and it built this country. But you can't possibly believe that the correct destiny for capitalism in America was to bring us to a situation where 90% of wealth is controlled by 1% of the citizens! Capitalism has no intrinsic stopgaps against abuse or disaster. It functions according to Creative Destruction. Great if you're creating something. Not so great if you are being destroyed. Shouldn't government protect its citizens from being destroyed? If hundreds of people lose their jobs at Enron because of the bosses' "creative" and foolhardy and criminal behavior, did those people DESERVE to lose their jobs? Why shouldn't a civilization provide protection to those made vulnerable by disaster and criminal mischief?

    Are you against the minimum wage? Medicare? Social Security?

  2. I have answered this comment as a separate post called Anti-capitalism is Evil Part 2