Recently we discussed some of the challenges the OWS movement faces. Central to this is their need to identify what they’re for, which helps them to identify what they’re against. With these two angles of thought defined they can then offer a viable solution. However, until the first two take place they really aren’t equipped to offer a solution that can be seriously considered; or at least that can be seriously considered to be better than what we have today.
A clear example is their attack on capitalism. Somehow they’ve developed the idea that the problems facing our country today are the product of capitalism. This stems from their failure to truly identify where they stand and what they stand against. In their diatribe against banks, Wall Street and their tax dollars going to bail out irresponsible and licentious actions among the too-big-to fail entities, somehow they perceive that what they’re witnessing is capitalism.
Let’s take a look at what capitalism really is. Of course, Wikipedia comes to the rescue here, making my job easy. Here are a few quotes from their entry.
There is no consensus on the precise definition of capitalism, nor on how the term should be used as a historical category. There is, however, little controversy that elements of capitalism include private ownership of the means of production, creation of goods or services for profit in a market, and prices, wages and competition. The designation is applied to a variety of historical cases, varying in time, geography, politics and culture. It is generally defined as the economic system where the means of production are privately owned, operated for profit from investment, and in competitive markets.
Capitalism is inherent in the Austrian school of economics. It’s also this laissez faire lack of a system of economics that works the best. In such a system, if people do not like the company or the product, they simply walk away from it, often resulting in its demise. There is no possibility of bailout because the government allows the market to weed out the failures through basic accounting laws. You lose money and you’re out of business. You make money your business thrives. Somehow the OWS movement seems to think that this very idea is in some way evil. They point a finger at such an ideal as one of their many sources of grief, crying out to lawmakers to fix it with even more intervention. We’ve already seen how the application of the pooled wisdom of Congress has benefited our economy. Why, certainly we need them to intervene more in order to fix it. It appears that our friends attempting to occupy Wall Street are confusing capitalism with cronyism, or some other insidious form of payoffs, bribes and abuses that take place in discussions and meetings we’re never invited to.
If our OWS friends would only take the time to truly grasp the battle at hand, draw clear lines, count the cost and then give voice to their cause, they would most likely cry out for a free market economy in which capitalism is simply a forgone conclusion. As another Joe pondered this dilemma, where there is a clear lack of understanding of something as simple as capitalism, it struck him that perhaps we would do well to enter a series of articles that offers simple definitions of economic terms and ideas. Since our main audience here consists of Regular Joes, there is no reason to assume that any of them (us) have very strong educations in economics.
One thing should probably be made clear now, besides the simplicity of capitalism. Economics, when it comes right down to it, is very simple. There are complex ideas. And the current fiscal policies of today, with their gargantuan efforts to control the economy through Keynesian ideas, is very complex. But part of the reason for its complexity is its absolute impossibility of being successful in the long run. We’ll attempt to simplify these thoughts as well. But good economic theory is very basic, even if there are some complex implications that can be derived.
For today, please realize that free market capitalism (there are other kinds) is the friend of every hard working and honest individual. It rewards ingenuity. It promotes entrepreneurship. It is built upon personal ownership and management of assets. And it offers everyone an opportunity to become a productive member of society if they’re willing to apply themselves to the task. If you’d like to understand this better, simply click on the links, specifically capitalism, free market and laissez faire. By simply grasping the definitions of these terms and how they interrelate, you’ll be several steps ahead of the crowd already. As we press on with more definitions, unless you’ve studied this already, you’ll find that the way you think and view economics begins to change dramatically. This growth in perception is empowering and freeing. And, by the grace of God, it can be financially liberating as well, if you learn to take action accordingly.
Let us be reminded, however, that finances aren’t everything. The greatest liberation we can enjoy is that which only Christ provides; liberation from the chains of sin. And, by the grace of God, you can enjoy this liberation, if you take action accordingly.
Until next time,
Being a few days behind on my reading, I just came across Bill Bonner’s comments on capitalism in his article, Everybody Hates Capitalism. Bill has his own way of writing, which requires careful thought for the reader. He’s a proponent of capitalism, but takes a roundabout way of getting to the point in this essay. It’s worth a read and definitely helps us think.