The Wall Street Journal
August 6, 2012
Capitalism and how we feel about our own well-being
The column "If the Election Is About Capitalism, What Does That Mean?" (Marketplace, July 27) is right about one thing: Capitalism is less about the economic system and more about how people feel at the moment about their own well-being.
It is human nature to first look out for No. 1. President Obama believes that government must "spread the wealth" for the benefit of all, an economic philosophy that runs counter to human nature. He fails to account for incentives to do so.
People will act in a certain way if they are incentivized to do so, whether it is to invest, collect welfare or pay taxes. Investors won't invest unless they expect a reasonable return on their risked funds. If we aren't given incentives to work, whether it's a paycheck, family needs or something else, we won't do so. Fear of reprisal from the Internal Revenue Service is what causes us to pay our taxes, not voluntary compliance.
Capitalism is the only system that provides rewards equal to the risks involved. That is what makes it the most successful system ever devised, and the U.S. is the best example the world has ever known of how capitalism succeeds, whereas other systems failed over and over again.
There are good conservative and good liberal ideas. People who dogmatically cling to one worldview become impossible to deal with and are often unyieldingly wrong. A public that appreciates each viewpoint will be immunized against the hateful, divisive rants of demagogues from all sides.
The "confusion" over capitalism has been deliberately sowed by those who will continue to demonize "capitalists" as greedy, silk-hatted, corpulent, tax-evading, racist war-mongers, no matter what Merriam-Webster says the word means.
Let's just banish the word from any future discussion of the issues that face this country and its economy and substitute "free enterprise" instead.