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The Advancements of Capitalism

The next time you get in a car and start driving, I want you to take a second and look around you. Look at the variety of cars speeding by you with thousands of mechanical pieces moving in tandem to keep the owner of the vehicle safe. Look at the power and telephone lines that allow us to live with the comforts that most people take for granted. Look, but not for too long since you’re driving, at the device that, along with other uses, allows for instant communication with people on the other side of the world. All these tools are only available because of capitalism.

An interesting question I like to ask people is whether they would prefer to live in a pre-capitalist world (pre-1770s) or a post-capitalist world (post-1770s). Even the most ardent communists I know will admit that they would prefer to live in a post-1770s world. Now one may argue that this is simply because it is always more comfortable to live farther in the future because of technology. However, the ironic part of this statement is that mankind’s exponential scientific growth has only been achieved because of capitalism. To illustrate what I mean, ask the same person if they would prefer to live as a Roman citizen in the peak of the empire, or as someone of the same status in Britain during the Dark Ages. Even though the Dark Ages are “farther in the future”, most people will say the Roman empire. Clearly before capitalism, man’s average comforts were not always increasing.

This brings me to my next point which is the fact that capitalism has caused an overall increase in household comfort. 95% of American families own a car. 95% of Americans own a cellphone, and 77% own a smartphone. 100% of Americans have access to electricity. These are creature comforts that not even the richest of people could have owned 300 years ago. Yet now, most of the bottom 10% of Americans have these amazing capabilities. This is exactly my point when you hear that “capitalism exploits the poor”. No it doesn’t. Capitalism has given the poor so much more, and it will continue to do so as we progress.

“Capitalism ends up with the rich having it all, and the poor having nothing.” This is another comment I hear often. There are quite a few possible responses. The simplest is “So what?” Someone worked for that money and was forced to provide others with a good deal in order to make money. A second is to explain the Pareto distribution. If you’re unsure what that is, I will put a link to the wikipedia article at the bottom. In simple terms, it has to do with the distribution of labor, money, or many other goods in most fields. As such, it has been seen that certain people owning much more than others is inevitable. It is just a fact of everyday life that a small group of people are going to wind up with more than others. Lastly, ask them if they have a better system. If they promote socialism or communism, point out that there was still a “1%” in these economic systems. It is human nature, and capitalism makes sure that the only way for wealth to be created is by helping others.

Besides these aforementioned reasons, there are hundreds of other rationale behind capitalism. Next time someone puts down capitalism, try to remind them of the billions of people that capitalism has helped. The pros far outweigh the cons.

US Census Bureau




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