We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Saturday, July 1. 2017
"Free market capitalism" is just what trustworthy people naturally do to make stuff, get stuff, and do things without violence or threat of violence: "I'll give you two arrowheads for that nice spearhead." The only "system" in free markets are government constraints to preserve orderly markets, to protect people from fraud, and to reward government friends. Those constraints are sometimes helpful, often destructive.
Other things - not "systems" but really just conditions - which make non-violent interactions possible are free speech, voting, a legal structure, honest people, and property ownership.
Lefties have a knee-jerk suspicion of those fine foundations for civil society.
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"Capitalists" have very little to do with it, either.
So far as I've been able to determine, the "Capitalist" was proclaimed the bogeyman around the time of Marx. Communists of earlier eras jousted quixotically with economic principles, which is about as exciting as fighting the law of universal gravitation, or the laws of thermodynamics or optics. But after Marx, the enemy was personified in The Capitalist. Now, Communists had someone they could hate; they could scare his wife, bully his kids, kill his dog. Revolution became practical, once it turned into a fight against a corporeal boogeyman, rather than a futile denial of an immutable law.
But The Capitalist, a living person, is actually of little importance to a free market economy. Capital is vital, but that's why banking was indispensable for the rise of the modern industrial world, whether there was a Capitalist involved, or just a balance sheet at a bank. But the money is fungible; where it comes from and who controls it in detail are not terribly important. We all know the names George Stephenson, Henry Ford, Eli Whitney, Robert Fulton, Thomas Edison, Henry Bessemer, Nikola Tesla, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, et al; it's hard to imagine the modern world without them, or others very much like them. But they'd have gone nowhere without financing. So, who provided that? Nobody knows, and it doesn't much matter, just so long as somebody - anybody - did. The market economy, not the Capitalist, made it possible for these men to build the modern word.
Capitalism is not a system, it is a liberty. Interestingly, when government collapses capitalism revives. Crime operates on capitalism as the criminal uses their personal earnings to generate more wealth, although using anti-social means.
Not finding any definition for capitalism beyond the 11th grade economics, private ownership of the means of production, I developed the following definition. I do note that practicing economists very often use "capitalism" for everything from private ownership to industrial/corporate (as opposed to the family farm).
Capitalism is a name given to the individual liberty or, as permitted, by the current entity that has monopoly on violence, to retain their personal earnings over that required for subsistence and use this savings, or capital to create wealth for their own self.
The type of capitalism one has is determined by who is permitted to engage in investments to better themselves up to State capitalism, commonly known as total socialism. Laissez Faire capitalism has the fewest restrictions and permit the most individuals to better themselves. Crony capitalism is when friends of the office holder are given special leave to better themselves. This is facilitated by interventionism and is better called government cronyism.
Socialism, in contrast, uses government to limit the individual ownership of productive capacity up to total socialism where the individual is permitted no ownership/control of productive capacity except for their direct personal skills and even then may be prevented by the overseers from using their skills in a job that requires them, instead being assigned other work. Under socialism, the liberty to better oneself is limited to government bureaucrats, controlling political party members and their cronies. The rest of the populace being slaves regardless of the treatment they receive.
Precisely what makes a slave is that he is allowed no use of productive capital to make wealth on his own account.
"...government constraints to preserve orderly markets..."; is that a euphemism for people with government authority making sure they get their cut? Or that their buddies get an advantage of folks who aren't their buddies? Capitalism is what happens when people with government powers cannot and do not interfere in other people's business. It is an emergent phenomenon - yes, like bird flocking - arising from freedom in the markets, freedom in speech, freedom in generally every area of human action. Period. Look at any economy with government-regulated "orderly markets" and you'll find mercantilism, crony capitalism, and in extreme cases fascism. Freedom yields capitalism.
Capitalism is not an ideology, which is what separates it from Marxism, communism, socialism, conservativism, Catholicism, nationalism and other such -isms.
These are all belief systems of one kind or another. Capitalism isn't about belief; it's about activity: the accumulation of capital. And capitalism is not synonymous with free markets either. Capitalists want to corner the market, not share the damned thing.
A capitalist worthy of the name can work within almost any political system if they have to. Capitalists seem to be doing very well in the corporate state known as the People's Republic of China.
The freedom of the free market diminishes in direct proportion ot the level of industrial and financial concentration. which has worsened substantially in the past decades since Reagan. WE suffer accordingly, signified in the phrase "Your call is very important to us."
Liberal is the most inaccurate of labels to describe those on the American political left these days. Their goal seems to be to restrict or eliminate all the liberties you so nicely list.
Capitalism may not be a system, but it's an organized activity that's vulnerable to disruption. I cringe when I hear people thoughtlessly condemn the role of capital. The useful act of accumulating capital and putting it back to work in the hands of others should be rewarded, not constantly picked at and worn down by ignorance and envy.
"Lefties have a knee-jerk suspicion of those fine foundations for civil society."
You are insufficiently paranoid.
Lefties understand those fine foundations for civil society perfectly well but wish to corrupt them for personal gain and power.
Laissez Faire capitalism has the fewest restrictions and permit the most individuals to better themselves. Crony capitalism is when friends of the office holder are given special leave to better themselves.
There's no difference between these two. Every government of any kind rewards its supporters and punishes its adversaries. This is how rulers come to power and how they stay in power. L-F capitalism is rewarded because the government doesn't impose labor or environmental controls, and is glad the send the army to break up strikes, suppress hostile Indians, a Navy to protect overseas trade, and the AG to bust unions. And that's indirect rewards. The more overt are the government contracts and land grabs like the transcontinental railway companies got.
According to Marx, in a capitalist economy, labor is considered as another cost of production. While the financier or factory owner is indispensable, so is labor. The difference between what labor is paid and the value of what labor produces is called surplus value which is not shared by the worker, and so, in marxist terminology, is how workers are exploited.
You don't have to agree with any of this, but it is always better to understand the enemy rather than create a strawman of him.
The biggest problem with the "Invisible Hand", is that it is invisible.
Most people don't understand it or don't trust it. "Who will build the roads?".
Politicians ignore it because they can't point to it and say"I did something".