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5 Reasons Millennials Should Support ‘Capitalism’

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A recent national survey by the Harvard Institute of Politics finds that a majority of Millennials (18- to 29-year olds) do not support capitalism as a political theory. One-third of them, however, do support socialism.

As a rule, I try not to put too much stock in such surveys because opinion polls make us dumb. But it’s become obvious that a significant portion of younger American are truly so under-educated that they truly believe socialism is preferable to capitalism.

Perhaps the problem is merely one of language. The reality is that the most ardent “capitalists” don’t like “capitalism” either.

Capitalism is merely an economic system in which the modes and means of production are mostly or entirely privately owned. That’s a rather broad categorization that includes such systems as corporatism, crony capitalism, social democracy, state capitalism, and welfare capitalism. Even those of us who can be described as “capitalists” would reject most of the other forms of capitalism we don’t like. (Which is why we tend to dislike the unhelpful word “capitalism.”)

What many of us (I’m tempted to say true capitalists) prefer is not an amorphous capitalism, but an economic system that is outgrowth of the natural order of liberty: a free economy. There’s no agreed upon term for the system of a free economy (which is why capitalism is often used as a substitute) but it includes free people engaging in free enterprise in free markets. A free economy is not a laissez-faire, each-to-his-own system of consumerism. It’s a system in which people are allowed to use their resources and abilities most effectively to serve others.

My naïve hope is that if more Millennials understood that capitalism is mostly used as a derogatory term free enterprise and economic liberty, they’d realize that they really do support it after all. But in case they aren’t convinced here are five reasons why you, young Millennial reader, should support capitalism:

1. Capitalism makes the world cleaner, less violent, and less poor (yes, really) — Because of capitalism there are fewer wars, fewer deaths from pollution, and fewer people living in extreme poverty than ever before. While global peace, health, and prosperity may seem like trivial concerns compared to your student loans, they are a reason most of us are grateful for the benefits of capitalism.

2. Capitalism is the reason you’re (probably) not a farmer – Do you currently have Tama soil under your fingernails? Do you not even know what Tama soil is? You probably don’t, which means you aren’t a farmer. Statistically, that is a safe assumption since there are only about 10,000 Millennials who are principal operators on a farm in the U.S.

Today, Millenials are farmers because they want to be. But that wasn’t always the case. In Colonial America approximately 90 percent of the population earned at least part of their living as farmers. Even in 1900, 41 percent of the U.S. workforce was employed in agriculture. People didn’t have a choice — farming was a required vocation.

So what changed? Mostly technological progress brought about by free enterprise. The gains from specialization and trade (key aspects of free enterprise) made it possible for you to be a Wendell Berry-reading “agrarian” at grad school rather than standing in an Iowa cornfield pushing a plow through Tama.

And that’s one of the truly remarkable effects of capitalism: it makes it possible for more and more people to pursue their interests, passions, and talents and use them in diverse ways to serve their fellow humans.

3. Capitalism is the main reason you weren’t drafted into the army — Thanks to the Obama administration, women will soon be joining men in being eligible for the “draft” — the commonly used term for mandatory military conscription.

But don’t worry, there’s not need for you to run off to Canada. No one in your generation has actually been subjected to the draft, and you likely never will. For our current all-volunteer military you can thank free market economists like Milton Friedman.

At the height of the Vietnam War, U.S. commander Gen. William Westmoreland testified before the President’s Commission on an All-Volunteer Force, a commission that was exploring the feasibility of ending the military draft. As Newsday reported,

Staunchly opposed to an all-volunteer military, which must pay its soldiers market wages, Gen. Westmoreland proclaimed that he did not want to command “an army of mercenaries.” One of the commission members immediately shot back with a question: “General, would you rather command an army of slaves?

That commission member was Milton Friedman. Friedman based his arguments primarily on the need for freedom in human flourishing. But he also noted its effects on the lower classes:

A by-product of freedom to serve would be avoidance of the present arbitrary discrimination among different groups. A large faction of the poor are rejected on physical or mental grounds. The relatively well-to-do used to be in an especially good position to take advantage of the possibilities of deferment offered by continuing their schooling. Hence the draft bears disproportionately on the upper lower classes and the lower middle classes. The fraction of high-school graduates who serve is vastly higher than of either those who have gone to college or those who dropped out before finishing high school.

If you served in the military because you wanted to, not because you were forced by the government, then you have a reason to be grateful for capitalism. And if you didn’t serve you have an even greater reason to be thankful for free enterprise.

4. Free enterprise is the most moral economic system — Free enterprise is the most moral, most fair, and most helpful system for alleviating poverty. Even a cursory study of history will show this is both obvious and true. The free enterprise system, though not without it’s significant flaws, is the most moral economic system yet devised. In the video below, Arthur Brooks explains three reasons why a free economy is the most moral:

1) Free enterprise safeguards lasting happiness.
2) It promotes real fairness.
3) It does the most good for the most vulnerable.

5. You already prefer capitalism anyway — Quick: Name your favorite provider of a good or service?

Chances are that you said Apple or Uber rather than the DMV or the Department of Commerce. While the government may provide some necessary services, it isn’t the best at providing customer service or fulfilling the various and unique wants and desires of Millennials. Imagine standing in line for hours, like they used to do in the anti-capitalist Soviet Union, to get stale bread and sandpaper-rough toilet paper. That’s what happens when you reject capitalism.

But let’s be honest. You don’t really reject capitalism. You just want more redistribution. You love capitalism when it is providing you with iPhones, Beyoncé videos, and fair trade coffee. What you don’t love is that you can’t have everything you want while you’re in college, working a free internship, or having to put in the work to move up the corporate foodchain. You want the benefits of capitalism; you just want someone else to pay for it.

That’s natural. It’s wrong and evil, but it is definitely natural. It’s a naturally occurring phenomenon of adolescent immaturity to want other people to take care of you and provide for your material wants and needs. You want more than you can have so you want other people to pay for it. That’s a form of immaturity that some people (e.g., politicians) never outgrow.

But you likely will grow up. You’ll realize that there aren’t enough “rich” people from which to redistribute income. You’ll realize that making the world a better place economically mostly entails you being productive at work, contributing to the flourishing of your fellow man by your labor. You’ll realize that, no matter where you fall on the economic spectrum, you are part of the most materially blessed generation in the history of the universe and that you are much, much, much better off because of free enterprise.

You’ll realize that, and you’ll grow up. Or you won’t. And then we’ll all be in trouble.

Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).

Comments

  • Some of the points you make here are interesting, about the difference between free-market capitalism vs other forms of capitalism. And I would agree also that there are some clear benefits of free market capitalism.

    However, you totally lost me when you started talking about why millenials (and democratic socialists) want redistribution.

    Let me explain. We don’t want to just arbitrarily take “rich” people’s money. Terms matter, and can be misused and misunderstood, as you point out, when you discuss the term “capitalism”.

    Here is what we want: We want to take back what crony capitalism stole from us, and continues to steal. This is not evil, it is political self defense.

    We are tired of austerity– which is essentially a redistribution from the working class to the crony capitalist.

    We are tired of the priortization of crony capitalist interests over the interests of the rest of society.

    Finally, democratic socialists don’t want to eliminate capitalism, that would be communists.

    These are a few questions you would have to answer if you want millenials or democratic socialists to support
    the kind of free market solution you envision:

    1. If smaller government achieves the goal of limiting the power of the crony capitalist, then specifically how is this achieved, politically speaking? I am very curious.

    2. What happens to elderly whose Medicare is cut, to people who can’t afford health insurance, to people who work longer hours for lower wages and whose unions have been destroyed by the “union busters”, and to people who are disabled whose benefits are cut?

    3. What is your view of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council)? Again, just curious. I’ll tell you my opinion– it’s a den of crony capitalists.

    4. How would we regulate companies that harm people or the environment with a “small government”?

    5. How can “small government” be achieved from within a corrupt, crony capitalist system, when all the politicians are owned and funded by crony capitalists?

    • “We want to take back what crony capitalism stole from us, and continues to steal.”

      If anyone has stolen anything they should be in jail, not taxed at a higher rate.

      “We are tired of austerity”

      There has been no austerity whatsoever in the US since Coolidge. In case you haven’t noticed, Congress has to raise the debt limit twice a year to keep federal spending at its current historically high levels. The US has never spent more on the poor than we do now and no country in the world spends as much.

      #1 Large corporations have bought all of the power that you have given politicians. As Donald Trump has made clear, all of the politicians in DC have been bought and paid for so they can write the regulations to reduce competition in their industries.

      #2 In the short run, those people would suffer. No doubt. The rest of us would have to help them out with charitable donations. But in the long run smaller government would kill corporate power over the economy, increase competition and create many high paying jobs. The increased wealth would make even more wealth available for charitable giving. It’s a historical fact that freer markets have lifted hundreds of million out of starvation poverty while redistribution through taxation has never lifted a single person out of poverty.

      #4 Strong property rights do far better at protecting the environment and harm to people. The court system is fully capable of protecting people. Again, it’s not theory or ideology; it’s actual real world history.

      #5. That’s a good question. But if you really thought that capitalists own politicians you wouldn’t want to give them more power to sell to the capitalists. The problem is that no politician can get elected who wants to shrink the state. Look at the careers of Ron and Rand Paul, the only two politicians I have known in 30 years who wanted smaller government. Before the system can change, the American voters need to abandon their obsession with socialism.

      • Roger,

        Thanks for attempting to address my concerns. I actually wish I had the luxury of more time to research the issues we are discussing here more fully before I formed and voiced opinions on all of these topics.

        I think that if more of us looked at issues from different perspectives, (and not just a cursory look either, but really suspending all judgment until they have completely and fully understood the opposing view), we would learn so much more and come much closer to the truth.

        Take the first issue you address here, for example: the concept of jailing the robber barons (my term) / crony capitalists (your term). My first inclination was to simply says “Yes, of course they should be jailed (and I do)”. But, with 30 seconds of research, I found a Forbes article that vehemently argued against this.

        In deciding whether or not I would agree with Forbes, I would have to include a lengthy verification of the facts. (Because it is altogether possible that you have read the Forbes article, and would take that position.)

        That one issue could stall us from ever reaching any useful agreement or understanding on the issues that matter most to me (and similarly to you).

        The issue at hand here as I see it can be distilled into this: power–who has it, and how will it be balanced between various interests (factions?)

        Politics determines which factions/interests get and maintain power.

        You represent the business interest. All of your arguments will of course attempt to justify that perspective, and naturally you will attempt to discredit opposing arguments. Most of the sources you use to support your argument will come from the right side of the political spectrum.

        In contrast, I mainly study leftist sources. I represent the working class, so I am interested in political policies that will favor that class.

        I see democratic socialism as a way to correct and check the abuse of power by the crony capitalist.

        However, you see it as a threat to the pure free-market vision (utopia?) you have, and as something that will only serve to increase the power of the crony capitalist.

        I think that we could both agree on one thing. The system is thoroughly corrupt. It is rigged. You see it as rigged against business, and I see it as rigged against the working class. I personally think that the closest thing to the truth is that it is rigged against both (legitimate, honest business owners who must compete with cronyism, and also against working people– essentially preventing upward mobility for them).

        What concerns me the most as a Christian, however, is this:

        I think that various moral issues are being thrown in the mix, in an effort to try and increase both the appeal of these “interests” to Christians.

        That is actually the reason I am even commenting here. I feel that it is the one factor that determines which “interest” I support.

        It is ultimately the primary issue that matters to me.

        • “I found a Forbes article that vehemently argued against this.”

          All free marketeers for the past 400 years have insisted on jailing those who steal or defraud others. There is no question about it among us. I can’t speak to the circumstances of individual cases. That is up to the jury. But it is the state’s job to prosecute thieves. Either the state, which you want to expand dramatically, has failed to do its job in a massive way or there really aren’t very many businesses stealing from consumers.

          “Politics determines which factions/interests get and maintain power.” Exactly! As I wrote, the more power you give to politicians the more they have to sell to corporations.

          “You represent the business interest.” Your clearly haven’t understood what I have been saying. I most definitely do not represent business. Businesses, especially large corporations, are the greatest enemies of freedom outside of socialists. I have provided the reasons for this.

          “Most of the sources you use to support your argument will come from the right side of the political spectrum.” No. I don’t think you understand at all. None of my arguments come from the political right. They come from sound economics. I have studied every school of economics, including Marxism. I probably understand socialism better than most socialists. Clearly, you haven’t bothered to study economics, but I can honestly say I have studied all human economic systems, but more importantly I have studied history and how the various systems have performed in the real world and are performing today.

          “You see it as rigged against business, and I see it as rigged against the working class.” How I see it and how you see it should not matter at all. What matters is what is the truth? You seem to have absorbed Marx’s attitude that there is no truth, just ideologies. But reality exists and we can know it. Good economics is about reality and we can know what reality is.

          “I see democratic socialism as a way to correct and check the abuse of power by the crony capitalist.” I realize that, but the reality is that is empowers the crony capitalists you despise so much. I am interested mostly in helping the poor and consumers. I can guarantee you, based on actual real world history, that democratic socialism hurts both enormously.

          “You see it as rigged against business,” Again, you haven’t understood my posts. I have written as clearly as I could that the system is rigged in favor of large corporations.

          “I think that various moral issues are being thrown in the mix, in an effort to try and increase both the appeal of these “interests” to Christians.” Well Christian theologians at the University of Salamanca, Spain invented economics and capitalism in the 16th century. We don’t have to lure Christians into the debate; they started it. Adam Smith was a professor of moral philosophy.

      • RustySkywater

        At the state level, there definitely has been austerity. Kansas has been a classic example (and the result hasn’t been good for the state), and some other states have had some form or other of austerity (Wisconsin, Michigan, and Florida are other examples).

        • Yes, I definitely agree. I would consider austerity to be any attempt to cut social programs that benefit all (not just the poor).

          It’s basically a redistribution of entitlement upwards to the wealthiest minority of the population. The crony capitalist gets ever increasing relief from their tax burden, while the rest of society loses its entitlements slowly, one by one, until (theoretically) the crony capitalist suffocates from the lack of a “big” government (which I believe is a pretty far fetched assumption). Then the free market comes in to save the day with privatization of (almost) everything– competition for all, charity for those deemed worthy, and lazy free loaders beware.

          To do this to our fellow human beings all in the name of some untested economic theory, like we’re lab rats is unacceptable, and immoral.

          • Inequality and unemployment were the lowest in the US from the Civil War until the Great Depression when we had none of the government handouts we have today. Inequality and poverty have risen sharply since the introduction of FDR’s and Johnson’s socialist policies. There has been no austerity whatsoever at the federal level and only very minor reductions in a few states when the face economic difficulties. As soon as the economic downturns are over the states make up for lost spending. There is absolutely no evidence of continual austerity by governments anywhere in the US and those who claim there is are just living in a fantasy land.

            “To do this to our fellow human beings all in the name of some untested economic theory, like we’re lab rats is unacceptable, and immoral.” I would agree, but deny that anything of the sort is happening. There are no untested economic theories. None whatsoever. Name any kind of economic system you can imagine and I’ll tell you where in history it was practiced. BTW, socialism was first practiced in Sparta several hundred years BC.

          • “Inequality and unemployment were the lowest in the US from the Civil War until the Great Depression when we had none of the government handouts we have today”

            Wasn’t that also the time of child labor, and very poor working conditions? As well as unsafe products.

            Have you ever read The Jungle? (Upton Sinclair, 1906)

            Just watch a documentary on Mother Jones.

            Weren’t there also robber barons at that time?

            And that was also when labor unions were formed. People gave their lives to make working conditions better for us all. And now the “union busters” brag about their dismantling them. It’s sickening to me.

            You can’t ignore the fact that human nature is such that people are going to be oppressed and exploited no matter what, but even more so when absolutely nothing is there to stop the exploiters. Then it’s even worse.

            We need political protections. It’s just a reality that cannot be ignored, not by people that care anyway.

            They don’t need government to exploit us. They’ll find other ways. It’s naive and grossly irresponsible to think that they won’t.

            Democratic socialism isn’t a utopia, but it’s a good system, and it offers some protections.

            I for one do not want to go back to the 19th century. Nor would you.

          • All that you have mentioned is socialist propaganda. It has not basis whatsoever in reality, except the point about child labor. Again, economics clarifies things. Child labor existed because for some their income wasn’t enough to support the family. Without the child labor, many in the family would have starved to death without charity. Capitalism eventually raised standards of living enough that children did not need to work.

            I never said that I wanted to go back to the 19th century. You’re using typical socialist propaganda techniques, distorting what I wrote to suit you purpose. I said I wanted to go back to the freedom and free markets the US enjoyed in the late 19th century. I do not want to return to the standard of living then. The freedom and free markets of that period caused the most rapid growth in standards of living and reduction in inequality in US history. If we had that freedom today inequality and poverty would be falling instead of growing as it is under our present socialism.

            Working conditions were bad in the late 19th century compared to today, but they were far better than anyone had enjoyed before. Companies improved working conditions partly out of sympathy for workers and partly to attract better workers. But they could not have done so without capitalism improving standards of living.

            Look, you have memorized socialist propaganda very well. I get that. You don’t have to keep regurgitating it. I probably know it better than you, having studied it for decades.

            What you clearly don’t know anything about it actual economic history. You have said multiple times that I reject your socialism because it threatens my world view, but clearly you are more threatened. You won’t even read a single book on economics whereas I have read many books on socialism. I know both sides of the argument and I’ll bet I know your socialist side better than you do. But you know nothing of economics and refuse to learn any.

          • “But clearly you are more threatened”

            You’re making my point Roger.

            Pure unfettered competition is social Darwinism. It’s not exactly the perfect “level playing field” you see it as. And it never will be this side of heaven. That is fact, not propaganda.

            Propaganda is something you would need and use far more than I would, because your vision is a much tougher sell to the public. Democratic Socialism sells itself. It’s a correction to a very real problem.

            I’m not trying to sell a system, like you are.

          • You’re not selling democratic socialism? I completely agree that capitalism is harder to sell. People are naturally envious and socialism elevates envy to a virtue. It promises to allow people to let their envy run wild. As Larry Seidentop has written in “Inventing Individualism” and Helmut Schoeck in “Envy: A theory of social behavior” Christianity suppressed envy when Christianity reached a critical mass in the 16th century. Christianity created the freedom and individualism that made free market capitalism possible.

            Today, all of Europe and most of the US have abandoned Christianity and that has allowed free reign for envy. Only a revival will restore freedom.

            In addition, economics requires some effort to learn and most people are like you. They won’t even consider it.

            You may think you’re argument is with me, but it’s with 300 years of economic science that you hold in contempt and won’t even read a brief article about. If most people are as determined to remain ignorant of economics as you are, there is no hope for anything but more socialism.

            I am confident that the US will grow increasingly socialist, and at the same time all of the problems you see with the US will only grow much worse. But socialists will never tire of blaming capitalism, which hasn’t existed in the US for almost a century.

          • I have read several articles from libertarian sites recently, including this one, and still continue to do so. I feel I have a pretty good grasp on its central arguments. I would even concede the economic argument to you, mainly because that isn’t what concerns me about it.

            There’s a deceitfulness and hypocrisy about libertarianism. It centers around the fact that they are all too willing to allow exploitation to continue, and to even promote it by making sure that the wealthy lose none of their entitlements, only the lower classes.

            They claim that they oppose cronyism, but practice it nonetheless! They actively pursue legislation goals that would affect millions of people, pulling entitlements from them, through illicit, secretive and illegal means.

            Seeking justice is not the same as envy. It is you who is envious, seeking wealth and power above all else.

            As Christians, we are encouraged to pray for justice.

            “Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord. “I will protect them from those who malign them.” Psalm 12:5

            If you don’t think God disapproves of what is happening in the name of “freedom”, then you haven’t read the Bible very closely.

            “Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!”(Isaiah 5:8)

            Just in case you think I might be interpreting it wrong. Here’s Matthew Henry’s commentary on this verse:

            “Here is a woe to those who set their hearts upon the wealth of the world, and place their happiness in that, and increase it to themselves by indirect and unlawful means… If they could succeed, they would monopolize possessions and preferments, and engross all profits and employments to themselves.”

            If you want to scoff at what God is saying about justice, dismissing it as “sentimental” (a recent article on this site) or merely “envious”, then I truly feel sorry for you. You are mocking God not me. I will pray for you.

            There is no mathematical fact or scientific theory that would ever justify cruelty and deceit, at least not for a Christian.

          • Well, you can spout Marxist cliches fairly well. But I know Marxism far better than you. I haven’t browsed a few Marxist web sites. I have read the founders and many other Marxists. You’ll never know the truth until you decide to learn something besides Marxism. Mainly you need to get over your fear of economics. It’s odd that you claim to be a Christian but you are dedicated to the lies and deceit of one of the most godless men in history. Marx’s socialism has been directly responsible for the deaths of over 100 million innocent people in the 20th century. But I’m sure none of that bothers you. You think he was a saint. Please don’t try to learn anything else. It will only destroy your distorted world view.

          • Roger, first of all, I’m not a Marxist. Or a communist. Nor do I oppose capitalism. I like capitalism very much and see many benefits to it.

            My first main concern however is that people who need protections get them. We cannot have a system, no matter how economically sound, that does not in some real way protect those who cannot effectively compete in the free market, not because they are lazy but because they have disadvantages.

            I am a teacher. If I give a test to my very diverse class of students, I try to make sure that all of their individual learning needs are met first, as much as I possiblly can. Some are new to learning English, some need specific accommodations etc. due to a variety of causes and factors. I can’t just assume they will all succeed without meeting those needs first. They are clearly not all on the same level. There are so many variables that affect their learning– background knowledge, socio-economic status, whether or not they have parents who care about their education etc. The same holds true in a society. This is why I don’t believe we should just dismiss the role of government.

            Can government be corrupt? Yes, but, if enough people get together and democratically elect politicians that will represent their interests, at least to some degree, it has some chance of benefiting society as a whole. For example, a person may not have children of their own, but it is reasonable that the government asks them to pay taxes to support public education because public education benefits society. People’s needs get met. That is just one small example, of course.

            Also, in general I try to judge every system or ideology through Scripture, not by whether its founder “claims” to be a Christian. The same goes for politicians. Nor do I automatically subscribe to an ideology just because I read about it and try to understand it. I might consider it, and then reject part or all of it. It’s not that simple. Life is complex, and political systems are complex. They can’t be reduced to a mathematical equation, mainly because of the fact that there is a human element involved.

            I am curious about many things, and I admit that I know only the basics of your economic system. I wouldn’t even know where to begin, honestly.

            Does this disqualify me from rational discussion about political systems? I don’t think so because politics is about people and ideas.

            I actually try to look at things from the opposing viewpoint whenever possible, and I try to put myself in the other person’s mindset as much as I can and be as objective as I can. I am able to see what you see to some degree. Have you ever tried seeing it from my point of view?

          • Ashley Johnson

            They were making plenty of income to support the family. They just weren’t receiving it because it went to the capitalist class…. The majority of workers weren’t middle class until we unionized. Is it any coincidence that the american middle class is being decimated after reagan busted them?

          • Marc Vander Maas

            Union membership started declining precipitously in the mid-50s from its all-time high of 30% of the workforce. At the time, Ronald Reagan was starring as “Cowpoke” in Tennessee’s Partner, a film with the delightful tagline “When the West was a shameless young hussy!” Perhaps the film was secretly anti-union propaganda, but somehow I doubt it.

          • Ashley Johnson

            Yeah. And that’s about the time the middle class started losing ground. No coincidence.

          • John and Jane Doe of Anytown, USA, Worry About Middle-Class Stagnation As They Read Reports of It On Their IPads as They Wait to Board Their Flight to Cancun
            http://cafehayek.com/2016/08/41321.html

          • False history. Pure Marxist propaganda.

    • Ashley Johnson

      Crony capitalism IS the free market. There will always be some form of government, whether formal or informal. And absent of a democracy, money rules. And you get the results of people bribing people to yield more power and influence.

  • Andrew K.

    I’d classify myself as an agrarian (or “paleo-capitalist”). But it’s not from attending grad school (to which I’ve never gone) or reading Wendell Berry (whom I’ve never read).

    It’s from farm work that I have done myself through much of my life. It’s from reading GK Chesterton, Shen Congwen, Russell Kirk, Robert Frost, Victor Hansen, etc.

    It’s the acknowledgment–not the demand–that when we removed people’s lives from the land en masse, we lost something. And maybe, just maybe, we can and should take some modest steps to regain that lost “something.”

  • Pyrrho

    Yes, it truly is a terrible thing when concerned and active citizens exercise their right to vote and voice their opinions via the First Amendment. I’m glad that you have the immense insight and wisdom necessary to lump together and judge an entire generation for simply disagreeing with you.

  • RustySkywater

    And people of your generation were never stereotyped by elder generations,right?

  • Art Easian

    Examine your conscience. Nearly all the criticism of capitalism boils down to “poor me”.

    The only flaw of capitalism is the monopoly; the unwinding of that monopoly is the only moral intervention of government. Since there is no such thing as a failed experiment, of all the lessons, I prefer best the freedom to learn from failure. As the saying goes: “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

    .

    • The only monopolies that have ever survived for a few years have been created by the state. The free market destroys monopolies. The only monopolies that exist today, utilities, patents and copyrights are created by governments.

      • Ashley Johnson

        That’s simply not true. Big business drives out competition ALL the time by exploiting prices and their capital advantage.

        • That is pure Marxist fabrication. The historical evidence proves exactly the opposite. And it violates all economics. Again, look around you. Where are the monopolies? They’re all created by the government. There isn’t one, and never has been one, that came up through the free market by “exploiting” prices and their capital advantage because it’s not possible in a free market.

          • Ashley Johnson

            Big business can afford to sell goods cheaper, even at a loss to drive out competition as they have the reserves to survive. Small business doesn’t. And big business does it ALL the time as it ensures higher future profits. Walmart is a good example. Kmart was their main competitor. They’re now close to bankruptcy. They also have the capital to get more workers, expand, and provide better goods. Business exploits their resources for their own benefit. There used to be 8 accounting firms, there’s now 4. Big hospitals are buying out small ones. If you’re paying attention, big business is eating up the little guys in just about every industry.

          • Not a thing you wrote is accurate. You seriously need to read some microeconomics.

          • Ashley Johnson

            how do you figure? If I’m a car manufacturer and I have 8 billion in retained earnings and some new guy comes on the market and sells cars for 20k each, I would sell them for 10k, take a 10k loss until the other guy has no consumers goes out of business…. If the start up has no retained earnings, he has no ability to undermine my prices.

          • Yeah that’s a common myth among Marxists. No corporation, no matter how big, has the savings to run losses long enough to run competitors out of business. It’s simply not possible in the real world. The only time a business can under price another and run them out of business is if they have new technology that reduces their costs and that’s pretty rare.

            A corporation would lose enormous amounts of money trying to destroy other businesses that way. They would have to raise prices dramatically to make up for those losses and that would attract more competitors. They would cause endless losses.

            The problem with Marxists is that they think business people are as stupid as they are. They’re not. No one would run a business in the way Marxists think all business people do.

          • Ashley Johnson

            And they can afford to raise prices after they monopolize the market…
            “The only time a business can under price another and run them out of business is if they have new technology that reduces their costs and that’s pretty rare.” or cheaper employees, capital reserves, cheaper materials, cheaper anything. They would have the sales volume to survive. Most big businesses have the work force to produce significant amount of products. So even if they sold them for a penny profit, it would still put the small guy out of business as they wouldn’t be able to keep up with their 3 or 4 employees. It’s why big corp prices are significantly cheaper than small business. They leverage both the exploitation of slave labor abroad and their sheer numbers of employees to produce a high volume of cheap goods. e.g. Walmart.

          • “cheaper employees, capital reserves, cheaper materials, cheaper anything.”

            No. All businesses have access to the same employees and materials. And as I wrote above, no business has the capital reserves to run others out of business and even if they did they wouldn’t attempt something so stupid.

            “So even if they sold them for a penny profit, it would still put the small guy out of business as they wouldn’t be able to keep up with their 3 or 4 employees. It’s why big corp prices are significantly cheaper than small business. ”

            The number of employees has nothing whatsoever to do with costs per unit. Costs per unit is a function of productivity which is a function of training and equipment. Whoever you’re getting your ideas about business from is dumb as a box of rocks about business. But that’s typical of Marxists. Their low esteem for business keeps them from studying it and learning anything. No one runs a business like Marxists think they do.

          • Ashley Johnson

            They do not! For one, Walmart has billions in retained earnings and millions of sales a month. They can afford to hire thousands of employees to produce a much higher volume of goods than small business will ever be able to. So even if they sold those goods at a much smaller profit margin, they have the higher sales volume to make up for it. Small business doesn’t and never will be able to outcompete them unless they manage to get the massive client base that Walmart has. And they won’t be able to without the ability to mass produce goods and undermine Walmart prices. good luck doing that with 10 employees. Heck good luck doing that with 100 employees.

          • Ashley Johnson

            If it were that easy to compete with a multibillion dollar multinational corporation, don’t you think more people would have done it in the past few decades?…

  • Ashley Johnson

    Lol. Capitalism isn’t responsible for any of those listed. The U.s. Market is a mixed economy, not a free market. It’s heavily regulated. If you want a free market, see China, where workers work 18 hour days for poverty wages and they breath thick air from all the pollution.

    • The US is closer to socialism than capitalism, but China is even less free. Making workers lobr 18 hour days was a feature of socialism, not free markets. Competition for workers forced US companies to go to a 40 hours week.

      • Ashley Johnson

        Lol. Apparantly you’ve never heard of May Day. Most free market fundamentalists know nothing about history. Or they choose to ignore it to hold onto their idealogy.

        May 1, 1867: The Illinois Legislature passed a law mandating an eight-hour workday. Many employers refused to cooperate, and a massive strike erupted in Chicago. That day became known as “May Day.”

        May 19, 1869: President Ulysses S. Grant issued a proclamation that guaranteed a stable wage and an eight-hour workday — but only for government workers. Grant’s decision encouraged private-sector workers to push for the same rights.

        • In a proclamation printed just before May 1, 1886, one publisher appealed to working people with this plea:

          –Workingmen to Arms!
          –War to the Palace, Peace to the Cottage, and Death to LUXURIOUS IDLENESS.
          –The wage system is the only cause of the World’s misery. It is supported by the rich classes, and to destroy it, they must be either made to work or DIE.
          –One pound of DYNAMITE is better than a bushel of BALLOTS!
          –MAKE YOUR DEMAND FOR EIGHT HOURS with weapons in your hands to meet the capitalistic bloodhounds, police, and militia in proper manner.

          Not surprisingly the entire city was prepared for mass bloodshed, reminiscent of the railroad strike a decade earlier when police and soldiers gunned down hundreds of striking workers. On May 1, 1886, more than 300,000 workers in 13,000 businesses across the United States walked off their jobs in the first May Day celebration in history. In Chicago, the epicenter for the 8-hour day agitators, 40,000 went out on strike with the anarchists in the forefront of the public’s eye. With their fiery speeches and revolutionary ideology of direct action, anarchists and anarchism became respected and embraced by the working people and despised by the capitalists.

          https://www.iww.org/history/library/misc/origins_of_mayday

        • Here’s what your utopian “fundamentalism” created. No one was laughing out loud when the mass murder was going on.

          The Black Book of Communism offers a single thesis – that Communism as practiced in Europe and Asia was a massively criminal system, existing in a state of war against its own people. Only once the people surrendered all their power did Communism end its periodic terrors. The Black Book draws up a list of charges against Communism, most noticeably its staggering death toll, but also the prison camps present in every Communist country, the massive deportation of racial minorities, and the loss of human liberty and dignity under the control of a totalitarian state.

          The simple number of deaths provides perhaps the most unanswerable argument against Communism. The editor, Stephane Courtois, thus offers an approximate count of the dead:

          U.S.S.R: 20 million deaths
          China: 65 million deaths
          Vietnam: 1 million deaths
          North Korea: 2 million deaths
          Cambodia: 2 million deaths
          Eastern Europe: 1 million deaths
          Latin America, Africa, and Afghanistan: 3.4 million deaths
          Total: nearly 100 million deaths

          http://web.stanford.edu/group/sreview/Archive/XXIVno1/books.html

          • Marc Vander Maas

            To be fair, the anti-capitalists of the day didn’t have time to laugh out loud, what with all the hard work they had to do creating a false moral equivalence between the free world and communism. Being a useful idiot takes a lot of energy.

          • Ashley Johnson

            Who said anything about communism? I support a heavily regulated capitalist market. People die under any corrupted system when few people hold too much power. Capitalism is not immune. Perhaps you’ve heard of the robber barons?

          • Marc Vander Maas
          • Ashley Johnson

            I know we don’t. Which is why the middle class is disappearing, more Americans are in poverty, business is exploiting the floods of cheap, illegal immigrant labor, and the majority of the wealth is going to the capitalist class. I said I support it, I didn’t say we have it.

          • Marc Vander Maas

            You KNOW we don’t have a heavily regulated market?

            You’re asserting that our healthcare system is atrocious because of a lack of regulation?

            Have you considered that perhaps part of the reason that the middle class is disappearing and more Americans are in poverty might have to do with the fact that the already-existing regulatory structure in the US is incredibly costly, reducing the incentive for entrepreneurs to start new enterprises and creating serious drag on the overall economy?

            And as for the “floods of cheap, illegal immigrant labor”, you do realize that all of these regulations you want to see will be enforced in significant part by the same federal government that is currently failing to enforce immigration law, and at times seems to be <a href="http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/may/18/obama-seeks-to-end-immigration-enforcement-by-loca/&quot;actively working to undermine it? On what basis do you have any faith that these folks would be capable of effectively enforcing this raft of new regulations you’re pining for?

          • Ashley Johnson

            They undermine the regulations because business loves the cheap labor… That’s not to say those regulations aren’t effective. The corporate influence in government is the problem, not the regulations themselves. You wanted corporate rule, well they’re making the rules, and they’re screwing you over. It costs nothing to start a business. It’s just more profitable to exploit third world sweatshops abroad. To say american regulations are stifling is laughable. Yeah it may be hard to start a busines without sufficient capital, or the ability to exploit underprivileged labor, but that’s a problem with capitalism, not government.

          • Marc Vander Maas

            You’re making no sense.

            “It costs nothing to start a business.” Then, two sentences later: “Yeah it may be hard to start a busines without sufficient capital…”

            So which is it? And seeing how you believe it’s super easy and painless to start a business, I presume you’re speaking from experience? How many businesses have you started?

            But aside from that: even if it is super easy and absolutely free to start a business, do you realize that it’s very difficult to sustain and grow that business? Nine out of ten startups fail. If you look at the chart that accompanies that article, you’ll note that two out of the top five reasons that new enterprises fail have to do with issues of cost or cashflow. Regulations impose costs on businesses. The greater the amount of regulation, the greater the cost, which just adds to the financial pressure on entrepreneurs. Whether you like it or not, that is going to have an impact. It will cause more business to fail or to curtail expansion. It will discourage some would-be entrepreneurs from taking the major risks involved in starting a business.

            “That’s not to say those regulations aren’t effective.” Regulations that are unenforced are by definition ineffective. And yes, Big Business loves the cheap labor. But guess what: politicians are just as guilty here as well, because a significant chunk of them see illegal immigration as a source of votes and a way to consolidate their political power for generations to come. Because holding sway over a vast bureaucracy that regulates the ins and outs of everyone else’s lives is pretty enticing for people who want power. I note again that you’re terribly concerned about the power of big business, which is perfectly reasonable, but you seem unconcerned with the power of big government, which can enforce its dictates at the barrel of a gun. A truly free market has the power to discipline the largest business; corrupt government, on the other hand, faces no such restraint.

          • Micha_Elyi

            You claim “more Americans are in poverty”, Ashley Johnson.

            Define “poverty”. Compare and contrast the living standards of the bottom income quintile of 1950 with that of today. (I’m trying not to laugh.)

          • Ashley Johnson

            Yeah and so are businessmen. Difference being, beurocrats have checks and balances limiting their power. Corporate cats don’t.

          • You need to google the “Baptists and Bootleggers” principle, regulatory capture and public choice. Baptists and bootleggers comes from prohibition when bootleggers joined Baptists in making alcohol illegal. People like you are the Baptists who want to regulate corps more. The corps are the bootleggers. They want more regulation. In fact, most new regulations come from large corps. Why? They can afford the costs but the costs drive smaller competitors out of business. Then they large corps pass on the costs to consumers. The result is oligopolies in most industries, higher prices, and greater profits.

            The large corps do that through “regulatory capture.” The buy politicians who then appoint their people to the agencies that regulate them. That way the regulatory agencies work for the corps they regulate. For example, the SEC works for Goldman Sachs.

            These principles are part of the “public choice” school of political economics rediscovered by Nobel Prize winner James Buchanan.

          • Ashley Johnson

            Large corps have the capital advantage to drive out competition with or without government regulation…. Those regulations just ensure they can’t drive the country into the ground in their pursuit for profit.

          • You seriously need to read a microecon book. Everything you have written has been refuted by econ 101.

            Also, if what you say is true, how is it possible for anyone to start a new business that competes with a large corp? Yet we see that frequently. Large corps become socialist and inefficient in their operations. Look at Sears, Montgomery Wards, and many large airlines that died. Small firms usually have new tech and lower costs to compete. That’s why corps need regulations to put the smaller competitors out of business.

            You have the socialist line memorized well. Now get a book on basic economics and see how wrong it is.

          • Ashley Johnson

            Most don’t, hence why 9 out of 10 start ups fail… And name one startup that will ever outdo Walmart, Intel, or any of the big names. And even if one company did get even remotely close to being a competitor, Walmart would just undermine their prices. They have the sales volume and a large enough client base to be able to. Small business doesn’t so they either have to charge more or hire fewer workers to make up for lack of demand. Either way, the bigger company has the advantage. Startups aren’t failing because of government regulations. They’re failing because they can’t compete with big business. You have the anarchy line memorized well. Now experience reality and stop living by the textbook. Life rarely goes perfectly by the textbook.

          • No, most start ups don’t fail. 70% succeed according to the best data. Costco, Dollar Stores, Walgreens are all outdoing Walmart. But Walmart was a start up just a few decades ago.

            In a free market, large corps have no advantage. They have to please customers just like the small guys. Government regulations put small businesses at a disadvantage.

            What you’re writing is pure Marxist propaganda that has been proven wrong by many Nobel Prize winners in economics, Jame Buchanan being one of them, but also FA Hayek and others.

            So are you planning to just regurgitate Marxist propaganda or are you going to pick up a book and learn some real economics? Your argument isn’t just with me and a few people on this blog. It’s with the entire field of economics. Are you willing to stick with Marx when economics has proven him wrong for 150 years?

          • Ashley Johnson

            They do have to please their customers, but they have the capital advantage that enables them to more easily do so and outcompete the little guys…

          • “they have the capital advantage that enables them to more easily do so and outcompete the little guys…”

            Not even close to the truth. They can’t compete against most startups. That’s why they buy politicians and pay them to write regulations to protect them from competition.

          • Ashley Johnson

            I have never been dissuaded from starting a business because of government regulations. I’ve been dissuaded because of the monopolies that exist in virtually all markets. You can’t compete with them. Name one specific regulation that strangles small business. I suspect you’re pulling the anti government rhetoric out of your butt.

          • Good grief! There are no monopolies in any market except those created by the state! Just open your eyes and look around you! Neither by the economic definition or by the legal anti-trust definition do monopolies exist outside of state created monopolies, mostly utilities. If monopolies are everywhere, what is the Justice Department doing not enforcing anti-trust laws? You virtually worship the state but it’s failing you miserably is there are monopolies everywhere.

          • Ashley Johnson

            There are companies that are too big to outcompete. They have no legitimate competition as most of the startups in their industry will be out of business in 10 years tops. So yes , business can monopolize a market if they are big enough.

          • Micha_Elyi

            I disagree. Nobody is “too big to outcompete”. Just one example, in the 1970s IBM would have fit your “too big to outcompete” criteria, Ashley Johnson, yet during that decade Apple Computer was founded and today it is much larger than IBM.

            How about identifying companies “too big to outcompete” whose position in the market are not protected by the State, Ashley Johnson? Then let’s examine them. Otherwise, your claim is without evidence, a superstition.

          • Name one.

          • Ashley Johnson

            9 put of 10 start ups fail. And Marx was an economist…

          • “9 put of 10 start ups fail.”

            Simply not true. Do some research.

            “And Marx was an economist.”

            Again, not true. Marx was anti-economics because he couldn’t refute their attacks.

          • Ashley Johnson

            He was an economist that had a different economic philosophy. Most economists disagree with each other. He was still an economist, he just didn’t support capitalism. Capitalism isn’t the only economic system you know…

          • Marc Vander Maas

            I don’t even know what to say about this. In American government, bureaucrats don’t have checks and balances. In theory, the power of the executive branch is checked by the Congress and courts, but the current administration has a regular practice of ignoring the outcome of midterm elections, ignoring court rulings, defying Congressional oversight, you name it. Aside from the fact that bureaucrats can commit egregious mistakes or violate basic rights of citizens with no consequence whatsoever. We live in the age of Obama’s “pen and phone,” remember?

            Businesses, on the other hand, have to respond to the demands of the market. If a business doesn’t provide a product or service that attracts enough customers to make a profit, that business dies. End of story.

            I mean, unless said business is in bed with politicians and regulators, which is what invariably happens when you impose a giant regulatory structure on industries. Bigger companies can absorb the cost of more regulations, and it actually benefits them in the long run because those additional regulations make it more difficult for competitors to enter the market. End result: less competition, higher costs for consumers, and large corporations that are able to grow larger because they’re protected from competition.

            You’re quite skeptical of big business, which is perfectly fine and healthy. You don’t seem to have a similar skepticism of big government, which has no competition, and can back its decrees with force. Odd.

          • Same end game. Venezuela: economic collapse, starvation, slave labor …

            When the government opened up a single border crossing with Colombia for 24 hours last month, more than 100,000 citizens streamed across in search of basic staples — which Colombia, mysteriously, manages to produce without resorting to slavery. Food is so scarce that 50 animals in the Caracas zoo have starved to death this year.

            Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/glenn-garvin/article93236572.html#storylink=cpy

          • Ashley Johnson

            Not so. The problem isn’t government. The problem is corrupt government. And that only happens when power is concentrated or money influences them. And it happens under ANY type of economic system, including free markets. The U.S. Already has checks and balances to prevent that concentration of power from corrupting government. There’s no checks and balances on corporate power. Hence why capitalists are now buying off politicians to yield more power and influence over the economy. Corporate rule is just as brutal to live under as government rule. We had slavery, feudalism, sweatshops, prostitution, and child labor in the guilded age with little government oversight on greed.

        • Such laws lagged far behind practices in private companies. The history is clear. You know the socialist side of it, which is accurate as far as it goes, but if you knew the rest of the history you would agree.

          Besides, laws can’t make people richer. If people can’t live on what they earn in 40 hours, then such laws would only cause massive starvation. For those laws to actually work, people had to earn enough in 40 hours for them to actually feed their families. The same goes for laws preventing child labor.

  • Ashley Johnson

    They were and there were virtually no monopolies back then. The U.S. Isn’t free for anyone but the wealthy. We work some of the longest hours on the planet for some of the lowest wages in the developed world. And you have no choice. We’re also the only country that bankrupts our citzens for getting healthcare and education. But we are freely ignorant that’s for sure. You know who else believes they are free? North Koreans. Lol. Ignorance is bliss.

    • Micha_Elyi

      “Virtually no monopolies” in the 1950s? Phooey! There were the phone company, trucking companies and airlines had monopoly routes, The chemicals firm Du Pont was broken up, passenger railroads were prevented from entering the airline business, there were many complaints about US Steel being a monopoly–I suggest you discover history, Ashley Johnson. It’s not just dusty books.

  • OTOH. “Why Venezuela faces collapse” http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/aug/21/venezuela- faces-collapse-because-of-socialist-gove/

    Last week the socialist government of Venezuela began seizing and destroying handguns, rifles and shotguns — continuing the late Hugo Chavez’s effort to solve the nation’s crime problem by disarming the nation. However, since Chavez imposed what he and his followers proudly called “21st-Century Socialism” on one of the wealthiest nations in South America, Venezuela has been in economic, political and social free fall. Disarming the country won’t work, but one can certainly understand current President Nicolas Maduro’s desire to disarm as many Venezuelans as possible. He and his cronies are increasingly worried that an angry and frustrated populace could turn his country into a revolutionary cauldron.

    Consider what he and Chavez have accomplished since Chavez came to power in 2012. The economy of this essentially middle-class democracy has collapsed with more than 70 percent of the population living in poverty. Venezuelans are dying in hospitals lacking hygiene and basic drugs, a square of toilet paper costs more than a tank of gas and people are forced to wait for hours in line for food or go hungry, Mr. Maduro has decreed a two-day work week for government employees, rolling electrical blackouts plague the country, the first lady’s nephews have been arrested by DEA agents from the United States for offering to sell wholesale amounts of cocaine to an undercover agent, and inflation is rampant and getting worse by the day. The International Monetary Fund estimates that Venezuela’s inflation rate this year will reach 720 percent and predicts 2200 percent inflation next year.

  • Philosophical Actuary

    Put differently, defense of one’s homeland is both voluntary and mandatory as remaining with one’s cancer ridden spouse is both voluntary and mandatory or as refusing to murder is both voluntary and mandatory or as doing the good is always voluntary but mandatory. The freedom necessary for human flourishing cannot be founded on a justification for rebellion against the human flourishing

  • Alan Decosta

    capitalism is the most selfish system ever invented by the rich, just another way of dividing the slaves err workers to keep us from a mass revolt , remember there are way more of us than them, the powers that be will be removed there will not be super rich people forever , soon the masses will rise up and put a stop to this capitalist selfish system

    • You have capitalism confused with socialism. Socialism was pure invention by atheists. Capitalism was an accident, the result of applying the Biblical principles distilled by the theologians at the University of Salamanca, Spain.

      BTW, in case you haven’t noticed, the have masses risen and put a stop to several systems – in Russia and Eastern Europe in China under Mao, in Cuba and North Korea. The result was mass death and starvation.

      Also, capitalism gave the West its tremendous wealth. Before capitalism, roughly 1600 the whole planet had the same standard of living, the same as those who lived 5000 BC and worse than that of Bangladesh or Haiti,

      Now I’m sure as a devout socialist you will think that is all ideology, but it’s not. It’s history.