Advocates of Capitalism need a strong offense and defense to counter the constant barrage of wrong-headed policies spouting like tangled weeds from governments at all levels.
First, we need to recognize Capitalism’s essential nature.
It is a mistake to think of Capitalism as a collective macroeconomic game where big business, big labor, and big government make all the moves.
Capitalism is a social and economic system built upon individual initiative.
And it requires a political system that preserves and protects individual rights.
To understand, appreciate, and profit from Capitalism, see it from an individual vantage point, especially from your own life.
Capitalism is the economic system of the individual.
Individuals are the operative players.
When groups of individuals join voluntarily to form businesses and corporations, it is individuals who choose whether to do so or not.
Consider some ideas that underlie the misunderstanding of Capitalism.
The first idea is the “economic pie syndrome.” When someone says that they have finally got a piece of the pie, referring to economic success, this is part of the economic pie syndrome.
It’s the belief that the total wealth of a country (or even the world) is static or limited.
It is the belief that there is only one pie.
Those who understand Capitalism know that the “pie” is expanding, and new pies are baked all the time.
Those with a limited view of Capitalism believe that one man’s gain is another’s loss. They think there are only a finite number of slices of an ever-diminishing pie. (Environmentalists take this mistaken view to its ultimate conclusion.)
Furthermore, the economic pie fallacy leads to a belief that one country’s wealth is at the expense of developing nations. It means they did not get their “piece” of the global pie or had their piece stolen by the rich countries.
Now, let’s consider the meaning of “wealth.”
Wealth is the value created via intelligence and labor. The earth’s raw materials are of limited use until they are converted by brainpower and ability into something of value.
For instance, petroleum sat inside the earth for millennia but was worthless until the internal combustion engine.
To extract it from the earth required intelligence, foresight, capital, and labor. Then it had to be refined into a usable product.
Wealth is created.
Was this wealth created at the expense of those who did not make it?
Was it of any use to them in the first place?
Contrary to popular opinion, wealth is not a collective product of society or nature.
Someone’s mind, capital, and energy created it.
What about natural beauty? Isn’t that a value?… Yes. And it takes intelligence, foresight, labor, and capital to preserve and enhance it.
Consider another example, Edison’s light bulb. Was it created at the expense of the rest of society, or was it a product we all benefit from if we value light?
Interestingly, Edison (if he were alive today) would have a hard time… He’d have to get past the inevitable anti-light bulb propaganda thrown at him from environments, regulators, and climate change catastrophists.
Let’s look back once more to the economic pie syndrome.
Remember, this is the view that wealth is a limited commodity.
It’s a child-like view that all the wealth is in Uncle Scrooge’s money bin — a static view of wealth that equates it with natural resources.
Resources are of limited value until uses are found for them and they are converted into products.
The capitalist outlook of wealth is the opposite of the economic pie syndrome.
Wealth is not limited but created by human ability, and intelligence applied to life’s problems.
Raw materials are “raw” until shaped toward a purpose.
The major battle of ideas today is the conflict between two ideas.
The first idea is that society is the most essential and crucial agency globally. So, we all must be required to work together for society’s goals.
The capitalist idea is that the individual is the essential agent in the world and must be free to think, plan, and take actions based on rational self-interest.
It’s collectivism vs. individualism.
One is the collective, beehive, or anthill approach to humanity, and the other is an individual human being approach.
Those with a collective mentality want to force their collective goals on the rest of us.
They despise Capitalism because it is a system that works on individual self-interest and freedom of choice.
In an upcoming article in this series, we will dive deeper into the anti-capitalist philosophy and agenda.
The bottom line is this: Capitalism is best understood from the individual perspective, not the collective.
In an upcoming feature, we’ll discuss the ideology, strategy, and goals of the anti-capitalists.
Ken West is the author of seven books, including Capitalism WIIFM.
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