My Own Pie

Libertarian Thoughts from Renaissance Guy

Fettered Capitalism?

with 2 comments

     On another blog some people were discussing capitalism and socialism.  One person said that the problem in the American economy is not capitalism but unfettered capitalism.

     Wow!  As I understand capitalism, saying unfettered capitalism is redudant–like saying free freedom or salty salt or wet water.  To have fettered capitalism would be like having captive freedom or bland salt or dray water.

     Capitalism is the system in which the economy is free from government control.  In other words, there is separation of business and state. 

     The same person who spoke of unfettered capitalism said that he defined capitalism as a system in which most property and most businesses are privately owned.

     Most?  Does that mean that if the government owns 49% of property and businesses, that you can say that the country is operating under a capitalist system?  You might as well say that a country in which the government controls 49% of the churches is practicing freedom of religion.

     Actual capitalists do not define capitalism that way.  They define it as a system in which all businesses are privately owned, and in which owners may do almost anything they want with their businesses.  The only legitimate limit that a government may place on business is to prevent them from infringing on the rights of others, such as through fraud or breach of contract or reckless endangerment.

     I think that Americans in general cannot discuss capitalism and socialism objectively.  We have been programmed to charge those two words with added meaning.  Most of us think of capitalism as “the American way” and as a good system.  Most of us think of socialism as un-American and bad.  Therefore, when somebody calls somebody else a socialist, we think that the first party is insulting the second party, instead of labeling them with an appropriate designation.

     I ask, “What’s wrong with being a socialist?”  If you favor socialism, just say so.  It’s a legitimate position to take, even if I happen to disagree with it.  If you sincerely believe in it, stand up and be counted.  Shout it from the rooftops:  I am a socialist, and I am proud of it.

     What is more annoying to me than the ordinary man or woman on the street misuing the words, but the well-educated politician doing so.  In that case, it is political posturing to say that one believes in capitalism when one actually believes in taxing and regulating businesses to death.  Politicians know that any admission of being a socialist would not play well with the electorate.  It would be like telling a group of Baptists that you are an atheist or a Satanist.

     However, I would respect an honest atheist or an honest Satanist who tells people what they really believe (or don’t believe, in this case).  I would also respect an honest socialist who tells people what they really believe and does his or her best to defend those beliefs.

     Listen carefully to political speeches.  You know your in trouble when a candidate says, “I believe in capitalism, but. . .”  It’s that but that leads to a fettered, that is a socialist, economy.


Written by ambrosianideas

September 9, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Posted in Miscellaneous

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. […] The piece is entitled “Fettered Capitalism?”  Aren’t you intrigued? This entry was posted in Capitalism. Bookmark the […]

  2. I look at capitalism as a system that cannot operate without rule of law, regulation, and even government. (On very small scale levels, it might be able to operate based on social norms and transparency). In fact, some things such as roads, public education, and police/fire protection enhance economic performance. If we define terms by extremes, then by necessity we simply label all economies (other than perhaps North Korea) as mixed.

    When I teach courses that deal with the political economy, we talk about various controversies about usage of capitalism (yours is one, but there are many others considered legitimate) and come to the conclusion that the broad labels are more confusing than helpful. We end up talking about market economies, and then differentiating between how the market operates (how regulated, how involved are state-run companies, etc.) This makes it easier to compare states, categorize China (the most successful economy in the last thirty years) and avoid a false dichotomy of socialism vs. capitalism.

    Scott Erb

    September 9, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: