A lot of people believe that somehow capitalism and compassion do not go together. Also, capitalism and democracy. Some of these people are considered to be great thinkers of our time or history, others are my friends, yet others are no one in particular. I have only just realized that free market and capitalism are different things, given how definitions seem to change over time and are promiscuous like that. Something Orwell enshrined as Newspeak. However the repercussion of words and their changing meaning begins as soon as they are spoken. Not even waiting for a few minutes they begin to get misconstrued almost as soon as they leave anyone’s thoughts and enter the world through air or matter.. Put out of context, they get further mutilated and magnified to celestial levels or belittled. Perhaps even before they are spoken, because what are we if not products of half imagined and half fantasized with a topping, even if inedible, of educated beliefs. After all, what is noble to me, may seem greed to some.
Additionally, who am I to distinguish between the two most talked about and apparently least understood terms in economics, least understood even perhaps by people who talk most about it, though not by everyone of course. I am sure a lot of people you know think that give consumerism, in other words, the act of going and buying something off a shelf somewhere, somehow makes the economy better. If people don’t have money to buy then things don’t go off the shelf and thats what makes the economy bad. I personally knew many people who think that. However, it is not true. Manufacturing or producing the things that go on the shelf is the backbone of economy. Manufacturing more and exporting, thats good for the economy and the ever increasing trade deficit for the US. Producing more than you spend and saving it in a form that can grow with time, thats what makes an economy good. You cannot clearly make more cars and save them for the future, but you CAN sell as many cars as are going to be needed and use the profit for something else that will provide long term benefit, for example in innovation. Just getting people to buy more stuff, most of which they cannot afford, is only bad for the economy as they are buying it on ‘credit’ and financial credibility is often something they don’t have. Plus they are also often buying things that are poor in quality and demonstrably bad choices. But apparently, only someone with no compassion can point that out to them.. If they cannot have a something of high quality because it is expensive, surely, they should be allowed to have a cheaper version of it. Yes, that is surely true, especially since the idea is that innovation will drive the prices down eventually, until the intellectual property acts and patents start providing all kinds of special favors to companies and essentially give rise to monopoly, because competitors can use nothing that their priors have used to design better options. Neither capitalism nor free market can ever justify such a thing and yet, that exists. With monopoly, people can maintain the price tag or enhance it and not invest in innovation that should be working on making things better and or cheaper. Such stagnation and monopoly is evident in how medical tests costs, MRIs etc., using technology that has been around for a while, show no signs of actually reducing over time. Unlike every other technology on the planet. The reasons are merely political and ‘capitalistic’.
There are two sides to that coin as well, if you developed the idea you clearly have no wish what so ever to give it away for free. Or to ever lose sight of it and stop making money off of it. But here, you are an individual and do not be in any doubt that should you ever have an idea that can change the world in any small part, you are not going to own it for very long, even if you own it at all. Only companies and big companies at that, have the power and resources to hold on to patents for time immemorial. Not that they don’t deserve it, because no doubt they build some things that made them big. Or something like that, they probably got it off an individual who sold it to them, for the lack of a better alternative, but anyhow they do stand for some technology or product. At least, they are supposed to. The extent to which the big company’s intellectual property, so to speak, should be protected by laws, however, is debatable. Because costs of things, should only be going one way and that, we all agree, should be down. Consumer goods that is, not the value of a dollar or gold. That should in the ideal world, be going up. It never does that for paper money, especially since enlightened past presidents of the US thought that the ‘gold standard’ is not good enough for USD.. Hence the coin is actually heavily loaded towards one side, and its not the side of the individual at all and neither is the coin made of gold..
That does not mean that no one should build companies because as soon as they get big they become monsters. They should in general, be aware from the outset that they cannot become monsters, so build products with such quality and innovation that they compete in the free market and still stand out. Utopia. However, some German cars do that. Apple itself still makes good products, but things like the iPad and then the iPad mini that simply have no real value, don’t solve any new problems, are priced based on their attractiveness or how much they are coveted in society, rather than usefulness and more over produced in other countries ( who clearly, have found a way to use consumerism to their benefit, and will no doubt find a way to make it work, even in a free market). Can buying them possibly make the economy better??? In the same way, buying anything that does not solve a problem and is poor quality, does not make sense. Instead invest in something that can get better with time, or be useful later, like retirement funds.
As for lack of compassion in the capitalist ( the one who believes in free market) at heart. Really, any body who is good with money acts responsibly and has perhaps had previous generations that have acted responsibly, they cannot be blamed for doing so. It is true that poor people should not be taxed because they don’t make enough money, as it happens, they are not taxed. What is truer is, no one should be taxed. Because if an individual cannot always be considered to be financially responsible, how can the government elected by many such individuals be more responsible? So if a person making money does not want to spend it in charity, it really should be his or her own choice, however, millionaire philanthropists do exist, so it is not like all rich people are heartless. As a corollary, compulsive gamblers, alcoholics and drug addicts also exist and no one is trying to get them to do charity either, they often fall in the category of people who expect charity because of their habits. Claiming that it is circumstances that drove them to it, because they have not been given a ‘fair’ chance in the world, that is dominated by the rich. The world is dominated by the rich because, unlike in a true free market, the rich have political power that can be wielded in any direction they like. Take the political power away, and they will have to bend to the norms, making good their claim of manufacturing products or services they are supposed to be providing for the benefit of investors or consumers. Nothing less could capture and hold a market, because compassionate or not, majority of people can tell the difference between a good product and a bad one, technology and services after all, do not need a seasoned critic to analyze their beauty. However, like art, there are and always be takers for different types of products, some for their color, or uniqueness or how well it goes with their lifestyle.
Therefore, the only resort is to oppose every possibility of government encroachment of individual freedom. Especially when someone tries to tell you what they believe to be is good for you, and you believe and have demonstrated that you are fully capable of determining that yourself. At the very least, you should not be paying for the folly and profligacy or ruthless pursuit of world domination or covert actions conducted in the name of peace that no one can put a finger, of others. It is true that a lot of people are not able to determine what is best for them.It would be astonishing to find someone who has never made a mistake. However, that is a lesson life, family and friends teach, certainly not someone you are never likely to meet. The right to choose and independence, while respecting others’ rights and lives, can only be appreciated when one has fought for their own..