Often I find libertarians, after describing some basic principles (non coercion etc.), make the jump to property rights and capitalism being the bestest thing ever, without fully explaining it.*
*To be sure, libertarians do have plenty of fleshed out arguments for capitalism’s efficacy as a system; what I am arguing is that it does not follow from their discussion of man and his nature.Of course it does. Every man is entitled to the fruits of his labor. But "labor" doesn't just mean sweat. It is effort in all of its forms. What it is illustrated when a lever or pulley, or Archimedes screw multiplies a man's effort is that the mental effort of inventing and employing those tools greatly multiplies a man's productivity, and thus increases the fruits of his labor. This is obvious in these examples: the more of one's brain that is employed in an enterprise, the greater the return.
|"Give me a lever and a place to stand, and I will move the whole Earth."|
This applies to principles, procedures, and algorithms every bit as much as it applies to physical tools. Thus we see that an entrepreneur has a higher income than a day laborer. This is because he's engaged in more productive effort. There's nothing inherently unfair about this. The laborer can do the same through his own efforts, and many have.
And I know you're wondering how I could possibly say that an entrepreneur is engaged in "more productive effort" than the guy breaking his back.
I say it because it's true.
Let's put it this way: The worker is working to feed himself and his family. He does so by engaging in activities that do just that, and barely. On the other hand, the entrepreneur is engaging in activities that will employ hundreds or thousands of people and feed all of them and their families. That's not figurative speech. His activities will result in sales, opportunities, markets, and income that will directly pay them all. And not just them... he will also pay their unemployment insurance, and the employer portion of their Social Security contributions, and provide whatever other incentives he finds necessary to retain people who can together meet those opportunities, as well as typically set up philanthropies and charities. Without him, most of the people in his employ would simply find other similar low-level jobs. Only a very few might start businesses of their own.
The same on-line source repeats Marx's tired assertion that the capitalism and the resultant division of labor separates a person from the products of his labor. This simply and conveniently ignores the fact that no Communist government has ever eliminated currency, the division of labor, work schedules, oppressive work conditions, bosses and overseers, an over-privileged elite class, or ANY of the conditions for which Communism was originally conceived to alleviate. In terms of achieving its goals, Marxism is the most brutal failure in history, bar none.
On the other hand, capitalism is the "bestest thing ever" because it is the one system that allows a person to focus on his talents and strengths, converting that which he has in abundance into that which he does not have and can't readily produce for himself. And that is possible through ownership. I am compensated for that which I produce and am able to save that compensation as my possession. In this way I can make trades that aren't practical in barter alone and can leverage many small "sales" into one large purchase, or do myriad other things. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the system that enables this.
The Free Market is Win-Win
Furthermore, capitalism allows this exchange of talents without coercion. Keeping the above in mind, remember that a free market is this is the activity of many individual transactions, each of which is a freely accepted "win-win" proposition. In a free market nobody engages in a transaction unless they want to. I can't make you buy my products, but I can adjust my prices or quality until you decide you'd rather own what I'm selling than keep the money. I make a sale of widgets because you need widgets more than you need the money, and it's vice versa for me.
And if I screw my customers on price or quality, I don't need the government to shut me down... my customers will do that through loss of sales by boycott and bad publicity. They'll go elsewhere and enrich my competition. Some will see my failure as their opportunity, and they'll go into competition with me. It is that competition which defines a free market. The moment you have a monopoly, you have a de facto government.
Necessity Isn't Force
We've all heard the Leftist arguments that because people have certain "needs" that should be free for all without labor or expense. This starts with basic abstract Freedoms... speech, defense, personal space, etc., all non-materialistic and easily free. The Left then extends it to those things that are material... water, food, air... and then on to things that are unquestionably desires... cell phones, cable TV, spending cash. And they should all be free.
Not only is it simplistic, it's a deliberate lie.
Ignore the Blob-like expansion for a moment and keep it to basics... something that seems most reasonable. Let's take food for an example. And let's imagine that you're living an agrarian vegan carbon-neutral macrobiotic lifestyle where lions and lambs comb each others' lustrous coats in perpetual sunshine and lurrrrve. And it's yours, all yours!
There's no one to give you anything. You have to till the soil, tend and water the plants, defend them against blight and pestilence, pick the fruits, prepare and preserve them for the winter months. Despite the fact that you have a right to Life, it is still up to you alone to secure that right. All that free food isn't free, not at all. Not even when there are no owners. Not by any measure. This doesn't change when someone moves in next to you. No one is obligated to slave for you simply because you don't want to be responsible for yourself. And yet that's the position of the Progressive Left.
|The Library Company of Philadelphia|
was started by Ben Franklin and his
friends because they each wanted a
better library than any of them could
afford individually. It's still in
operation today, free and open to the
public. That's how Libertarians
solve a problem.
If that's not enough, you're left to explain Shriner hospitals, which operate without charging their patients; and RiteCare centers for language disabilities, which provide their services to those children who need them without requiring them to pay a dime; and Ronald McDonald houses; and myriad other charities. These are done voluntarily, in addition to taxes. You cannot seriously believe that if people had more to give that they would give less. And you cannot seriously believe that enlightened self-interest is at odds with charity unless you know little of either. I've discussed charity before... if you want a society in which there are good people, there is only one way to guarantee it: be that person.
The benefits of capitalism are those which directly result from the libertarian principles of self-ownership and non-coercion. It is human nature to be generous so long as the means have not been stripped from them.
Overwhelmingly, the richest people... those mean old money-grubbing capitalists... have always been the biggest philanthropists. What's better than a person who gives to charity? A person who creates a job. A philanthropist is both. One of the things that a Libertarian wants as much as the next person is "a better world". Of course, to a Libertarian, this means that people are voluntarily charitable and don't have to be robbed; where they're nice because they're educated in civility, rather than forced into compliance. Those who benefit from institutional robbery have fewer barriers against the more personal sort. Furthermore, private charity is more effective than the public dole because it doesn't result in disincentives to achievement. This requires that people not only look after themselves, but look to better themselves and in so doing employ others.
The title of the piece to which I linked in my first paragraph is "Yes, Libertarians Really Are Lazy Marxists". This is hilarious, as it comes straight from the ideology espoused by the laziest ideologues ever to walk the face of this planet; and is directed at those who they would have as slaves.
Yes, Marxists really are pathological liars.
“How do you tell a communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin.” -Ronald Reagan
It has been pointed out to me that "the rich only give to charities because they're tax deductible. So it's the government that's really the public paying for those charities."
No. That's not what "tax deductible" means. Let's simplify it and do some math. For this example we're going to assume that there's a millionaire making a tax-deductible contribution of a million dollars, and he's taxed at a rate of 30%. So making the contribution saves him the taxes on the million:
$1,000,000 - (1,000,000 * .3) = $1,000,000 - $300,000 = $700,000
In other words, if the donor had simply kept the money and paid the taxes, he'd still be seven hundred thousand dollars richer than if he'd made the donation. If the money were not tax deductible at all, then he could simply donate $700 grand and feel no difference. In fact, he's already demonstrated the willingness to do so, and more. He'd give a million if he had it. Tax-deductible contributions are not, not, NOT an example of greed. They are an example of largesse.
Furthermore, in order to be tax-deductible, the amount has to go to an organization that is determined to have official status as a charitable organization. The People of the United States have agreed in advance that the recipient is worthy of the contribution. After-the-fact is a piss-poor time to start bitching about contributions actually made to them.
Furthermore, the money comes entirely from the millionaire. These are not government funds that have been handed back. These are funds that the People of the United States, through their government, have determined not to be taxable. In other words... it's not their money... by law. Again, after-the-fact is a piss-poor time to claim generosity for something that you agreed up-front wasn't yours to give.