By Janey Whitney
Capitalism. It’s the system and the ideology that protects both our economic and social freedoms. To understand what capitalism is, we must first understand what it is not. Capitalism is not the oppression of the middle class by the upper class, it is not a beginning transition towards communism, and it is not a selfish or greedy system. Those three qualities are that of socialism. So, what is capitalism, then? Capitalism motivates and allows individuals to earn for themselves, to choose how to invest their money, and to be able to enjoy the benefits.
Inequality exists naturally within nature. Some people can make a living through dancing, while others weren’t born with the natural ability to dance. Some people naturally enjoy arithmetic and become accountants, while others find it challenging to study mathematics. Not everyone was born with the same mindset, the same work ethic, or the same skills. As such, it shouldn’t be demanded that everyone live in a uniform way, including financial uniformity.
Capitalism allows for the natural diversities of incomes to exist in society. It will enable those who are more successful in their career path to reflect that both in their income and possessions. Capitalism brings about motivation and a desire to work because you see something you want, and you then know you have to work to obtain that thing you desire to have.
What is the point in working when you know the government will completely take care of you? When you know the government will take care of you, the motivation to earn an income begins to dissipate. “The notion that the market economy makes people greedy, selﬁsh, and amoral is simply fallacious.”
The market economy makes motivates people. Not just motivated to work and to earn an income, but also motivated to help others through charity. The American Legislative Exchange Council stated, “[w]hen all state taxes are considered, a 1 percentage point increase in the total tax burden is associated with a 1.16 percent drop in charitable giving per dollar of state income.”
When you have the freedom to do as you wish with your money, and you see your savings grow, you are more likely to be generous towards others. So capitalism, in actuality, discourages people from being greedy or selfish.
So, what is capitalism really? Capitalism affects not only our economic system but it also directly affects our freedom to live amongst one another with all of our differences. Capitalism encompasses pluralism and diversity because not everyone is uniform, and not everyone has the same way of earning money. Those with varying incomes should be able to freely live amongst one another, along with all of our other differences. You cannot prohibit someone being better at math than you, or from being better at dancing than you. There are differences between individuals.
Richard Lichtman (1987) Socialism and individual freedom, Socialism and Democracy, 3:1, 93, DOI: 10.1080/08854308908427972
Gintis, H. (2012) ‘Response: Giving Economists Their Due’, Boston Review (May/June 2012) accessed 19 July 2020. cf. Zak, P. J. (2008) Moral Markets: The Critical Role of Values in the Economy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press; Henrich, J. et al. eds (2004) Foundations of Human Sociality: Economic Experiments and Ethnographic Evidence from Fifteen Small-Scale Societies. Oxford: OUP; and Storr, V. (2012) Understanding the Culture of Markets. Abingdon: Routledge.
Chad Van Schoelandt. “Markets, Community, and Pluralism.” The Philosophical Quarterly (1950-), vol. 64, no. 254, 2014, pp. 149, 151.
Alfred Archer. “Community, Pluralism, and Individualistic Pursuits: A Defense of ‘Why Not Socialism?’” Social Theory and Practice, vol. 42, no. 1, 2016, p. 61.
Freeland, William et al. "The Effect Of State Taxes On Charitable Giving". Alec.Org, 2020, https://www.alec.org/app/uploads/2015/09/2015-State-Factor_Charitable-Giving.pdf. Accessed 22 July 2020.
LinkedIn: Janey Whitney
Janey Whitney is a 2019 graduate of Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Law, Politics and Society. Janey has volunteered, interned, and worked in several different political settings: including law firms, think tanks, and political campaigns. She hopes to run for office one day, in hopes to combat socialist ideals and to fight to keep America the same great country we all love.