Capitalism has created the highest standard of living ever known on earth. The evidence is incontrovertible. The contrast between West and East Berlin is the latest demonstration, like a laboratory experiment for all to see. Yet those who are loudest in proclaiming their desire to eliminate poverty are loudest in denouncing capitalism. Man's well-being is not their goal.
When material wealth
is threatened, it is only natural that we ponder our deeper values and
prospects for spiritual fulfilment a little more keenly. Economic insecurity
breeds moral debate, anxiety about the way we live and a quest for answers
from religious authority. Much of this is healthy. But the silliest response
to the downturn has been a resurgence of the argument that Christianity
and capitalism are somehow incompatible. According to this strand of left-wing
theology, the Christian message is fundamentally socialist, the ethical
underpinning for state redistribution; it is further argued (with ill-disguised
glee) that capitalism is the work of Mammon, and that those who worship
it are bound, sooner or later, to come to a sticky end. Margaret Thatcher
was often scorned for her assertion that ‘no one would remember the Good
Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions; he had money as well’. But
the Iron Lady was absolutely right. The injunctions in Scripture to be
charitable are matched by the expectation that we must nurture our talents,
work hard and produce wealth. ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat,’
wrote St Paul to the Thessalonians. The Book of Deuteronomy puts it thus:
‘But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is He that giveth thee
power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He sware
unto thy fathers, as it is this day.’ As Mrs Thatcher declared in her famous
address to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland 20 years ago:
‘The Tenth Commandment — Thou shalt not covet — recognises that making
money and owning things could become selfish activities. But it is not
the creation of wealth that is wrong but love of money for its own sake.
dimension comes in deciding what one does with the wealth.’
- Spectator's Christmas leader for December 2008
"Why did men, women, and children eke out their meager existence for 6,000 years of recorded history, toiling desperately from dawn to darkbarefoot, half-naked, unwashed, unshaved, uncombed, with lousy hair, mangy skins, and rotting teeth - then suddenly, in one place on earth there is an abundance of things such as rayon underwear, nylon hose, shower baths, safety razors, ice cream sodas, lipsticks, and permanent waves?"
Harriet Harman seems
to have won the deputy leadership of the Labour party by saying she did
not want people to spend £10,000 on a handbag when other people were
‘struggling’. Polly Toynbee tells us that this ‘resonated with public distaste’
at the ‘debauchery of riches at the top’. Did it? If so, why? A handbag
that costs £10,000 involves a lot of work by a lot of people, all
of whom need to earn a living and most of whom — those rearing the animal
which produces the leather, those slaughtering the animal, those tanning
the leather, etc. — will not be rich. They will profit, and take pride
in a job well done.
- Charles Moore, writing in the UK "Spectator"
"Though my heart may be left of centre, I have always known that the only economic system that works is a market economy... it is the only one that reflects the nature of life itself."
The economic value of a man's work is determined, on a free market, by a single principle : by the voluntary consent of those who are willing to trade him their work or products in return. This is the moral meaning of the law of supply and demand.
- Willi Schlamm
has certain boils and blotches upon it, but has it as many as government?
Has it as many as marriage? Has it as many as religion? I doubt it. It
is the only basic institution of modern man that shows any genuine health
- HL Mencken
no adequate substitute for the motive of enlightened selfishness that today
is at the basis of all human labor and effort, enterprise and new activity.
- William Howard Taft
There is nothing in
socialism that a little age or a little money will not cure.
- Will Durant
The ideology of capitalism makes us all into connoisseurs of liberty - of the indefinite expansion of possibility.
- Susan Sontag
Capitalism is an art form, an Apollonian fabrication to rival nature. It is hypocritical for feminists and intellectuals to enjoy the pleasures and conveniences of capitalism while sneering at it... Everyone born into capitalism has incurred a debt to it. Give Caesar his due.
- Camille Paglia
It is capitalist America that produced the modern independent woman. Never in history have women had more freedom of choice in regard to dress, behavior, career, and sexual orietation.
- Camille Paglia
We knew, too, what did not work, namely socialism in every shape or form. Nowadays socialism is more often dressed up as environmentalism, feminism, or international concern for human rights. All sound good in the abstract. But scratch the surface and you will as likely as not discover anti-capitalism, patronising and distorting quotas, and intrusions upon the sovereignty of the individual.
- Margaret Thatcher
The Berlin Wall is the defining achievement of socialism.
- George Will
You can't get good chinese takeout in China and cuban cigars are rationed in Cuba. That's all you need to know about communism.
- Thomas Sowell
It is certainly safe, in view of the movement to the right of intellectuals and political thinkers, to pronounce the brain death of socialism.
- Norman Tebbit
Under communist rule in the Soviet Union, the 3 percent of agricultural land that was privately farmed by people who kept part of the profits from their efforts supplied the majority of all farm produce. It is not simply that bureaucracy is inefficient. Any form of production that is not based on material reward will not operate efficiently.
Writing isn ’t the
only elemental information technology that evolved in ancient states. Money
standardized currency — is an information technology. It is a kind of record of your past labors, of their value a judged by society. And when you spend the money, it becomes a kind of signal, confirming your wants and conveying them, however obliquely, to the various people involved in satisfying them;
passing from hand to hand to hand, money flows through the nervous system of the larger invisible
hand, informing supplier of demand.
In modern times, much kvetching has been done about money. Some consider it a tool for oppressing the
downtrodden. But, in historical perspective, money looks more like a solvent of oppression. By
invigorating market economies, it offered an alternative to a command economy dominated by the
literate few. If an economic information technology is going to be wielded on your behalf, it ’s usually
best to do the wielding yourself.
- Robert Wright, "Nonzero"
Gold? Yellow, glittering,
precious gold? No, gods...
Thus much of this will make black white, foul fair,
Wrong right, base noble, old young, coward valiant...
This yellow slave will knit and break religions, bless th' accurs'd,
Make the hoar leprosy ador'd, place thieves
And give them title, knee, and approbation, with senators on the bench.
- from Shakespeare's "The Life of Timon of Athens"
# FREE TRADE
"The only fair trade is free trade."
"The rich countries of the world spend 1 billion dollars a day to make their food dearer."
- Mike Moore, Director-General of the World Trade Organisation
"When goods don't cross borders, soldiers will."
# FOOD PRICES
Food prices are high
today (Jun'08) for a variety of reasons:
(1) The incredible economic growth in recent years of China and India - due to their wholehearted embrace of capitalism - has made newly enriched millions understandably want to eat better, in particular more meat. This puts pressure on the cereals that livestock consume - for example 7-8 kilos are needed for each kilo of beef.
(2) The unprecedented explosion of oil prices has ratcheted up food costs in terms of inputs like fuel for agricultural machinery, petroleum-based fertilisers, transport of product to market.
(3) Whole swathes of agricultural land have been switched from food production to maize in order to avail of generous subsidies for the production of ethanol, the latest “carbon-neutral” fad for your car. High oil prices have reinforced this switch. But it has been estimated that were Ireland's cars to be powered by entirely home-grown biofuels, every acre of the island would be needed to grow the necessary crops. (Then where would we get our spuds?)
(4) Some blame Al Gore's climate change for instigating floods and droughts which have played havoc with agriculture in some countries, such as Myanmar and Australia.
Meanwhile, the obscenity of long-standing agricultural subsidies in the rich world combined with the cheap exports that result and the protectionism which obstructs imports have managed to penalise countless developing-world farmers, who could otherwise produce the same food without subsidies and at less cost. It's like pouring gasoline on a fire. Surely it is obvious that allowing high prices to spur increased production, while removing market-distorting and trade-suppressing subsidies, tariffs and fiats, will result in more food production which would bring prices back down to sensible levels.
The best example of what even little-educated sons of the soil in the developing world can do if left alone to their own devices is the free-market poppy production of war-torn, infrastructureless Afghanistan. With no help from anyone, these hardened men fill over 90% of global demand for (illegal) heroin and other opiates, thanks also to the absence of subsidies or tariffs either at home or in the export markets. Moreover some of these canny Afghan capitalist-farmers are now switching to wheat whose price has trebled this year, making it more profitable than poppies (whose own value coincidentally has been dropping of late). Thus do they contribute to the food-shortage solution.
The International Food
Policy Research Institute estimates that biofuel demand has contributed
to 30% of the recent increase in cereal prices. The US subsidises,
to the tune of $7 billion per year, the production of some 300,000 barrels
a day of maize ethanol in exchange for a supposed greenhouse-gas reduction
of a derisory one-nineteenth percent. It doesn't take much nous to
figure out that if the Americans stopped frittering so much of their citizens
money on such pointless subsidies, the land freed up to restore food production
would contribute to the food-shortage problem - cutting prices by 20% say
some. But the Bush administration is disgracefully urging on the
US to even more subsidised biofuel production.
The EU's Common Agricultural Policy continues to distribute largesse to its farmers: €43 billion in 2005 representing 44% of the budget. And for what? So that farmers can continue to produce food at a cost no consumer will pay.
- Tony Allwright, "The Tallrite Blog"
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The Capitalism FAQ
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