Capitalism’s Biggest Enemies Are Capitalists

It's a 'mixed economy.'
Read Scott Horton's new book Fool's Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan

For most of human history, mankind’s standard of living remained perilously close to a bare subsistence level. Then, a few hundred years ago, capitalism brought with it the Industrial Revolution that has generated unprecedented economic progress. Capitalism is by far the most effective anti-poverty program in the world’s history.

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, economic progress was so slow that people would not be able to recognize it in their lifetimes. The goods and services they consumed, the ways in which they were produced, and the overall level of consumption would have been roughly the same when they died as when they were born. Today, we take economic progress for granted. Ten years from now, cars will be different, phones will be different, our lives and lifestyles will be different because of the economic progress generated by capitalism.

Despite the huge difference capitalism has made to our standard of living, capitalism has its detractors. Socialists and progressives want to regulate it, control it, or eliminate it, but capitalism’s biggest enemies are those who claim to support it.

First on the list are business people, who regularly petition government for favorable treatment. They want subsidies, they want tax incentives, they want regulatory protection to deter domestic competitors, and they want tariffs and quotas to protect them from foreign competitors.

Businesses spend lots of resources on politicking and lobbying, but they never lobby for unfettered competition and free markets. They devote substantial resources toward trying to get government to award them special privileges. They don’t want free market capitalism; they want crony capitalism and they want to be the cronies. Small wonder capitalism suffers from a bad reputation.

Read the rest at the Independent Institute.

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