One of the most profound political, and personal, changes I’ve made in my lifetime is the shift from central planning advocacy – “big government” – to robust belief in limited government and the free market. I no longer believe in centralized power, heavy regulation, high taxation, and other forms of interference in the economic system that, as Hayek explained, most effectively recreates humanity’s natural state of evolution, adoption, and adaptation.
The free market is not only best at broadening the benefits of prosperity. It also creates and maintains the maximum levels of freedom in a society, and ensures the most wild and fun amount of cultural variety and diversity.
In February, I wrote a trilogy of essays on the virtues, strengths, and attributes of the free market. In each essay, I also, as a former liberal, attempt to expose the flaws, and hypocrisies, at the heart of modern liberalism.
The first essay ran on the Federalist – “Understanding Liberal Schizophrenia About the Free Market”
This essay looks at the inherent contradictions of leftist attacks on “consumer culture”, and the leftist obession with inequality. It also argues that the free market is an affirmation of individual choice. Those who oppose the free market are often using their economic position as a cover story for the desire to limit people’s choices, and thereby gain control over their behavior.
The second essay also ran on the Federalist – “Diversity and the Free Market“
This essay demonstrates how the free market succeeds, above everything else, in creating and maintaining a diverse society full of cultural variety and vitality. Drawing on the development of jazz music, and the opportunities for exploration and adventure in Chicago, I show how the free market make things interesting and fun. I also undress liberal platitudes about diversity that, if put into practice, actually undermine it.
My third essay on the free market ran as a column in the Indianapolis Star. Titled “The Moral Case for Capitalism”, it is reprinted here in its entirety.
The Moral Case for Capitalism
By David Masciotra
Many believers in a robust, lively, and muscular free market have made the empty-headed error of punting on third down.
Since the financial collapse of 2008, which seemingly demolished the job market into debris, capitalism has come under heavy artillery attack from the off key chorus of liberal journalists, activists, and politicians who have not learned a new song in decades. More importantly and disturbingly, world leaders, such as President Barack Obama and Pope Francis, have made out of tune contributions to the farcical nonsense that condemns“unbridled” capitalism as the exploitative and destructive creator of vicious“income inequality.”
Libertarians and defenders of the free market have reacted to the lunacy of central planning advocacy with appropriate mockery and anger, but have largely missed the crucial truth of human history that would deflate the hot air balloon of government spending enthusiasm.
Most often, they merely make the correct, but uninspiring point that gluttonous deficit spending, coupled with the bloat of entitlement expansion, will turn the entire country into a rickshaw for the morbidly obese. You can only get so far following the liberal model, and eventually, the entire thing will fall apart.
That fact based argumentation contains compelling and undeniable veracity, but it misses the moral case for capitalism.
According to the joint research of Xavier Sala-i-Martin, an economist at Columbia University, and MIT economics professor, Maxim Pinkovskiy, since 1970, the world’s worst poverty, meaning the amount of people living on one dollar a day or less, has declined by eighty percent.
News of this stunning achievement is like a damaging secret about a gangland enforcer. No one is going to spread it around out of fear of the repercussions. The major media, much like the Pope and President Obama, would prefer to keep alive the idea that capitalism is an evil that anointed agents of goodness – themselves – must unite to regulate and eradicate.
Capitalism is the very system of economics, however, that is responsible for the reduction of poverty in Africa and Asia. Martin and Pinkovskiy credit private property, commercial activity, and free trade for the uplift of millions of the world’s worst poor.
Bono, the lead singer of U2 whose organization DATA works to“eradicate extreme poverty in Africa”, recently told students at Georgetown University that “in dealing with poverty, welfare and foreign aid are a Band-Aid, free enterprise is the cure.”
As if the improvement in the conditions and lives of millions of the world’s poorest people wasn’t enough to demonstrate the ethical superiority of the free market over intrusive governmental involvement and interference in business, there is also staggering evidence available in the world’s richest country, the United States of America.
For all of the obsessive self-pity and envy that comes with derision of the “one percent”, all Americans remain in the one percent of the world. According to every measurement of health, safety, and welfare, the world’s one percent not only enjoys a high standard of living, but takes comfort from the continual increase in standard of living. The free market is effective at broadening the benefits of prosperity, and anyone who doubts thecase, can compare living in Miami and Havana.
Even within America’s borders, people unwilling to wear the intellectual shackles of ideology can make instructive comparisons: Would you rather look for a job in California or Texas? Would you rather raise a child in Detroit or Indianapolis?
The states and cities with lower levels of government spending, lower taxes, and less regulations are more livable. In the world and in America, the places with a stronger and freer market, have healthier and happier people.
The moral case for capitalism is easy to make, and it should amplify the voices of free market advocates, while overpowering the sputtering whimpers of its detractors, and shaming them into silence.