I am a fan of capitalism. I sometimes call it a system, or economic system but truth is capitalism is just the natural outgrowth of human interaction. It’s built into us. Socialism requires force because it’s not built into us. Kids in a lunch room have a natural understanding of how much they value the tuna sandwich they have vs how much they value an orange a friend has and trading takes place.
That isn’t so far off from the ancient manner of man. Ogg is a good hunter, U’ula collects berries. Ogg gives some meat and gets some berries. But sometimes people are dishonest. They don’t want to make a fair trade. They want to come out on top, not by haggling but by scam. Ogg might tell a story of how hard that animal was to kill, or how the meat was special meat that would make the person who ate it strong like the animal was.
The story linked below, that inspired this post, is about vitamins. We all know that vitamins are good for you, that your body needs them. What people don’t know is that for most Americans their regular diet already provides them with all the vitamins they need and that more of a vitamin isn’t going to make you super and can sometimes cause harm.
“More important, perhaps, is that most Americans get plenty of the essentials, anyway. Although the Western diet has a lot of problems — too much sodium, sugar, saturated fat and calories, in general — it’s not short on vitamins, said Alice Lichtenstein, a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.”
But people who want to sell you vitamins will over-hype the efficacy of their product to get you to buy it. Or will stress the dangers of something else (like red meat) and convince you the way to counter those bad effects is to buy their product. People buy into it. Sometimes it seems to come from reputable sources like a doctor. As the story points out, this isn’t always meaningful. Doctors are fallible people too.
This kind of behavior is largely what has led some people to view capitalism as bad. They see people taking advantage of others for money and blame it on the “system” and not on the people doing the advantage taking. Some will go so far as to falsely (or erroneously) claim that the very nature of capitalism ensures that this bad behavior is going to happen. That’s as faulty logic as those who say having a gun means you’re going to kill someone. Murder rates to not go up as gun ownership rates do and taking advantage of someone does not increase as the spread of capitalism spreads. Socialism and Communism have clearly produced terrible results. Defenders like to say that it wasn’t “true socialism” but we can also say that those taking advantage of others isn’t “true capitalism”. True capitalism is a system of voluntary trading of goods and services. Implied in the voluntary aspect of it is that the individual will be making his or her choice based on honest information but even when it doesn’t it can be said that no one forced anyone to buy those vitamins they didn’t need.
Socialism requires force. A person’s wants are not taken into consideration and their needs are put as supposedly equal to the needs of someone else. The fact is, no one can determine that for you. If a person in Communism wants more or says he needs more, his neighbor can decide that he doesn’t. If he disagrees it doesn’t matter, he doesn’t have a right to disagree with the collective. Of course real-world communism isn’t actually run communally, that’s a misnomer for marketing sake. In the real world it is run by a dictator or oppressive government.
In capitalism a man can decide for himself what his needs and wants are and pursue them. He may not be successful in that but he can try.
The simple fact that some are successful and some are not is what gave rise to socialism. One man’s lack of success seems so unfair. It seems that way because it is. At least in the sense that no two people are alike in mind and skill. In that there is not a level playing field. Capitalism gives you the choice to improve your skill or work within the level of your skill. Still inherent in that system is the idea that if your skill is not enough, or perhaps never will be enough, then others can volunteer to assist you. And they do. Billions of dollars are given away by Americans every year to charities and who knows how many billions are given away to people on street corners or to family members in need. Fraud, graft and greed aren’t part of capitalism, they are part of human nature for some humans. When they behave in this way, then there should be penalties but it makes no sense trying to create a system that forces everyone into a mold in an attempt to avoid the possible pitfalls, and this is especially true when communism and socialism are prone to the exact same pitfalls of human failing. Absent a magical system the most free system is the best. That is capitalism. Or, simply put, voluntary trading.
Often, preliminary studies fuel irrational exuberance about a promising dietary supplement, leading millions of people to buy in to the trend. Many never stop. They continue even though more rigorous studies — which can take many years to complete — almost never find that vitamins prevent disease, and in some cases cause harm.