Capitalism: A Means to Altruism

Some people believe that capitalism is immoral — marked by greed and the lust for money. I will argue, however, that the genius of capitalism is that it channels self-interest into altruism.

A capitalist economy (achieved through minimal government interference) facilitates competition and results in innovation — thus creating superior products for the consumer.

If the product is cheaply made and overpriced, the company will go out of business. On the other hand, if the product is well-made and fairly priced, people will buy it and the company will thrive.

Capitalism drives price down and quality up.

Consider the iPhone you are likely using to read this article. Not including the countless phone applications that cost hundreds of dollars sold separately, the hardware for the phone would have cost the consumer $3.56 million to duplicate back in 1991!

Only capitalism is capable of turning a multi-million dollar product into something that even the poor can enjoy.

Capitalism breeds entrepreneurs, who have no choice but to concern themselves with the needs and desires of others — their customers.

– George Gilder

A company cannot afford to be greedy when there are a handful of other companies willing to provide the same product for a cheaper price.

So, inadvertently, capitalism compels man to practice selfless concern for the well-being of others, despite his selfish nature.

Adam Smith elaborates when he said:

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.

The butcher does not spend his days laboring so that you and your family can eat, but instead so that he and his family may eat. Although his motive is pure selfishness, the result is a contribution to society. It is a matter of human nature and a system that channels self-interest into a mechanism capable of indirectly providing for the community.

Ironically, it is a capitalistic approach which is most likely to produce the “good society” and the best means to achieve socialist goals (i.e., fairness and equality).

Capitalism has produced the most affluent class in world history. A century ago, the rich man drove and the poor man walked. Today, the rich man drives a new Mercedes  and the poor man drives a second-hand Honda Civic.

– Dinesh D’Souza

In a free market, the rich get richer — but so do the poor. Success isn’t a zero sum game; another person’s gain doesn’t mean a loss for you.

Proponents of the free market don’t pretend that capitalism is divinely pure. Yes, cronyism (close relationships between business people and government officials) and its cousin, corporatism (the control of a state by large interest groups), are possibilities in a free market — but these mutations are caused by government interference, not the lack thereof.

However, even the power of big business over the average American is limited. To sell its shares and products, the business must first persuade customers. It must win their consent before taking their money.

Essentially, the free market gives consumers the power of choice. People are free to vote with their dollars and give their business to whom they choose.

Capitalism is not only economically superior, but also morally superior to any other economic system. It rewards initiative, follows the law of nature, and provides opportunity — lifting people out of poverty.

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One comment

  1. Giovanni – excellent article and you hit the nail on the head. Capitalism allows for the best effort/reward outcome possibility, which is inherently baked into human DNA. Capitalism does not guarantee success; however, it does allow for the maximum opportunity of properly placed effort to be successful. This is why capitalist societies always invent more, produce more, and always have a greater positive impact on society, as a whole. People only apply the level of effort for the reward that they believe they can achieve.


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