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Capitalism liberates the “common man” to work and trade for his own benefit; to earn and keep property; to worship a God--or not--according to his own conscience; to speak his mind. In other words, capitalism frees the individual from control by elites by recognizing and protecting the unalienable individual rights of all people to live by their own judgement, values, and goals, equally and at all times. Prior to capitalism, aristocratic elites got rich by looting the peasants. Under capitalism, people get rich by trade that enriches others and only with the consent of those they trade with. Capitalism, properly understood, doesn’t “work for” anyone. It comes in only one “form”: It frees people to work for themselves. That is the only “form” capitalism can have.
As to the Daily Kos article Enjoying a better quality of life with Democratic Socialism linked to above, “Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public roads, bridges, schools, parks, water treatment facilities, and more”; yes, they are “all socialism”. And all dependent on exploiting capitalism—that is, on exploiting productive, self-responsible individuals.
Every dime that funds those (and like) government programs is taken by force of taxation from private individuals who earned it. Just look at your paycheck. You can see it. And more is taken stealthily, through corporate and business taxation, or by inflationary central bank money expansion. That money collected by government from private producers is then paid out to private individuals and companies to build and maintain the roads and parks, etc.; or paid out in the form of “government benefits” for retirement, old age healthcare, or “charity” healthcare for the poor.
All of this can be provided privately, if the rights of individuals are respected and as people choose—a choice that, to the extent government steps in, is denied to the “common man” by the socialist elites. It makes no difference whether the elites are elected, appointed by elected officials, or seize power by force: They are still elites who claim the authority to supercede the rights of the “common man”.
It is only capitalism, to the extent it is allowed to flourish, that makes these socialist programs possible. If you doubt that, then consider that every society that has ever existed has had some form of government; a king, a feudal lord, a tribal chief, a church, a dictator, or what have you. Yet through all the centuries, grinding poverty was the norm for “the masses”. Where was the “better quality of life?” Why do we have poverty-ridden so-called “third world countries” today? They have governments, too. Why is it that only countries that have a substantial degree of capitalist freedom can have generous socialist/welfare state programs?
This does not mean that government is, as the Daily Kos charges the political right with claiming, “a bad word.” Properly understood as the liberty rights-protecting, security and order providing institution it should be, government is a necessary good—until and unless it crosses the line into statism. The fact is, so-called democratic socialism—really just the socialist part of a mixed economy—cannot create “a better quality of life” in any general sense. It can, at best, benefit some at the unwilling expense of others. It can make people’s quality of life dependent on government (socialist elites). Governments under democratic socialism are redistributive entities—in effect, money laundering operations, that start with seizing private wealth, cycling it through bureaucratic government mechanisms, and returning it under legitimate-sounding labels like “Medicare” or “public schools”. Democratic socialism only appears to “work” as long as enough capitalism exists to produce the necessary material, financial, and human resources for government officials to seize and exploit. One may argue for any socialist program to be mixed in to the economy by government force. But one cannot argue that, at root, democratic socialism is a parasite on capitalism.
Mazzucato’s Fantasy: The “Courageous, Entrepreneurial State”
Democratic Socialism: If the Pigs Take Over
What is Capitalism—Ayn Rand
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