Ethics in a Capitalist Society
Published By Vox_Veritas
Okay, so a lot of people aren’t really satisfied with capitalism. And some of their complaints do have merits; after all, income inequality is a very real phenomenon in the United States. Furthermore, the “competition principle” won’t stop companies from ripping their clients off whenever they have a monopoly. Even whenever there is competition, sometimes several companies conspire to keep prices high. Many people are jobless and homeless; many of those who aren’t struggle to make ends meet.
The problem is very easy to identify; Karl Marx was able to do so in the 19th century, and countless social critics have continued to do so since then up to this day. Implementing a solution? Eh, not so much.
Most people can agree that full-blown communism as it existed in the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc was perhaps a worse solution than the problem which it solved. But still, even if Marx’s vision was extreme, some moderate steps in the Marxist direction will help society, right? Social welfare programs and new legislation can help the poor and needy and stop companies from ripping people off, right?
Well, it really isn’t that simple. First of all, the question of merit aside, many of the programs that progressives want won’t end up being enacted. Republican opposition to socialism is strong enough that only moderate gains in these areas will be made in the foreseeable future. Second, the positive effect of these measures is in question. Some have argued that the black nuclear family has been destroyed by the welfare state set in place in the 1960s, which as a result bred crime and further poverty. Others have said that the war on drugs, which is arguably a progressive program (similar programs during the early 20th century, such as Prohibition, were given the progressive label in their day) has further destroyed the black community by resulting in high incarceration rates for a relatively victimless crime. The minimum wage has arguably lessened America’s competitiveness in the global market (and, as a result, increased unemployment). Extensive federal and state-level regulations on housing have probably increased the price of housing. In short, these measures are arguably hurting more than they help. Third, social welfare programs paid for with someone else’s money are inherently immoral, even if the architects of these programs have good intentions, for it amounts to theft.
Still, people are reluctant to throw in the towel. Surely there must be something better than the system we have now, right?
Well, be happy to know that the answer to that question is yes. A better system can emerge than what we have now, but this change won’t come about through more theft and more bureaucratic red tape. Rather, the change must come from you.
If there is any upside to free market capitalism, it’s that within this system people are free agents. They can choose to do with their money what they please. They can start a business (provided, of course, that they’ve got the money or that they’re willing to take out a bank loan). Like many people have chosen to use this freedom to pursue their own self-interests and the accumulation of material wealth, you likewise have the option of using this freedom and the money at your disposal to change the world for the better.
So, I’ve got a question for you:
Healthcare is ridiculously expensive. In many areas patients are being ripped off by the medical establishment. What can you do about it? How can you change the system? Well, you could go to college and get a degree in medicine. Then you could devote your life to opening hospitals/clinics which provide high quality service for the most affordable prices; your motivation would not be money. If anything, money would be a tool to open more hospitals/clinics and so to share your cheap, high-quality service with people in other areas. Perhaps you can find others who would like to participate in this noble cause, and if you work together with these people this dream will come closer to reality.
This is just an example, though. If you feel that in any area the customers are being ripped off by greedy businesses, then the best way to alleviate the situation is to enter that market yourself, armed with a pure heart, your determination, courage, and a strong work ethic. If you can’t fix the problem nationwide, then at least you can fix what’s wrong in your local area, and if enough people are determined to help then eventually the entire country will see improvement.
Likewise, if you have enough money to live comfortably, then ask yourself, “What am I doing to help the poor?” Give what you can; don’t demand that some rich dude you’ve never met be taxed excessively so that the stolen money can be given to the poor.
Sure beats lobbying for a new set of laws or a new social program, doesn’t it?