The good people at CIVITAS REVIEW (www.NCCivitas.org) remind us of the moral case for capitalism and conservatism. They provide an excerpt from Arthur C. Brook’s new book, “The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise.” (A turn around on F. A. Hayek’s classic book title: “The Road to Serfdom.”) Mr. Brooks argues that the only way advocates for capitalism can win the debate with statists is to “make the moral case” for it.
Brooks believes that people of all kinds and status want a socio-economic system that “is morally legitimate, not just efficient.” He says that free enterprise champions celebrate capitalism because it is “essential to happiness and fulfillment.”
Free enterprise allows people the personal satisfaction of succeeding on merit; to do meaningful work; have control over their lives; and it gives everyone the opportunity to improve their lives. Yet, often during debates, advocates for capitalism rely on facts and figures showing the superiority of this system in terms of “productivity and economic efficiency.” (I cringe every time a politician publicly pronounces it’s government’s mission to “provide jobs.”)
Brooks believes these truths alone will not make our case with most Americans. He writes that “reliance on materialistic arguments is a gift to statists.” They will demagogue the debate suggesting we are “selfish and only motivated by money”—profiteers at the expense of others. And they seem to win on that false premise. As a result, emotional “redistributionist” arguments lead to failed public policies.
Mr. Brooks makes a painful point, but expects to win the debate by making the moral case for free enterprise.
Based on my experience, his premise makes sense. For example, when confronted with factual evidence showing that public welfare policies have cost billions of dollars but have failed in promises to eliminate “poverty,” a liberal friend responds: “Well, I’m in favor of helping my fellow man.” Others have more bluntly asked: “Why are you against poor people?”
It seems impossible to counter these emotional—feelings of moral superiority—retorts. These people obviously can’t support their statist views with evidence; they just resort to personal criticism; in this case accusations that capitalists don’t have compassion.
So, Brook’s strategy seems worthy. I’ll try it: Statists are driven by envy and greed.
Most of us have been taught that envy is a vice: “Thou shalt not covet….” Of course, that may not resonate with those who have no moral values. Clearly, though, statists covet what others have earned: “The rich must pay their fair share…Romney wants to give a tax cut to millionaires.”
Well, isn’t it morally right that by profiting themselves capitalists have incentive to provide jobs and a better standard of living to many others?
Isn’t it immoral for statists to use the police power of government to take a larger share of the property of some people and distribute small amounts (less than a “living wage”) to others through uncaring government bureaucracies?
How about the greed of statists to use confiscated wealth to encourage crony corporate activities that can’t succeed without government subsidies—thus, putting companies at risk of failure and workers more likely to be laid off?
Yes, I believe that statists are immoral. Their unprincipled, corrupt use of government power has led millions of Americans to dependency based on lies and false promises, depriving them of self-respect, and keeping them hopeless and in despair. Statists can never deliver on promises. It’s immoral to deceive people.
On the other hand, capitalists won’t promise what they can’t deliver. Those uncorrupted by collusion with government must succeed or fail on their own efforts. They have no legal power to coerce people or confiscate property; powers authorized by statists to government.
Truly free enterprise merely offers people the opportunity to use their God-given abilities to do meaningful work, provide for themselves and live fulfilled lives—the only chance to improve their condition and succeed in their pursuits of happiness.
........As you post your comment, please conform to Squall Line's simple comment policy: we welcome all perspectives, but require that comments be both civil and respectful. If you wouldn't say it to a co-worker in front of your boss, it probably is not civil and respectful. We will delete any comment that fails this test and issue a warning to the poster. A second offense will result in a ban on commenting on this site. In sum, disagreements, arguments even, are welcome; abusive behavior is not. Thanks.
You must be logged in to post a comment.