Free Markets, Free People

Misunderstanding Capitalism

Deepak Chopra has, for some reason, come to be viewed as an intellectual by many.  For the most part I don’t get it.  

I’m reminded why when I read this Chopra statement on “The Mellow Jihadi” (disclaimer: The Mellow Jihadi does not agree with Chopra’s statement below):

Capitalism prevails as a system that once vied, supposedly, with Communism for world dominance, yet its deep flaws remain. Three come to mind. Capitalism discourages equal access to wealth, leading to enormous gaps between rich and poor. The free market lacks a conscience, giving rise to inequalities of education, health care, and job opportunities. Finally, capitalism if unchecked promotes corruption, both economic and political.

Capitalism is really given a bad rap here.   And it is mostly in word usage.  For instance “Capitalism discourages equal access to wealth”?

No.  It doesn’t.  What it requires is you earn your wealth, not have it handed to you.  I.e. it pretty much encourages hard work, sacrifice and innovation and rewards it with wealth if all goes well and people like what you do and want to buy it.   But the “deep flaw” here is you – the individual – actually have to initiate the action, do what is necessary to properly prepare yourself, work your butt off and hope you have done sufficient research and work to make all that pay off.  But it certainly doesn’t “discourage” anyone from earning wealth, it just makes no guarantee that all will share equally in wealth.  I see that as a feature, not a bug.  The enormous gaps between rich and poor can usually be traced back to enormous gaps in preparation, work ethic, and ability.  Btw, Mr. Chopra, in case you haven’t noticed, nature isn’t very good about “equality” either – when it comes to intelligence and ability.  Is that a “flaw” or reality?

Chopra goes on to say that “the free market lacks a conscience”.   Well that’s a straw man if ever I’ve seen one.  It’s a bit like saying a rock has no feelings.  A market operates without feelings, to include a conscience.  But that doesn’t mean that the society or culture in which it operates can’t do what it feels is necessary to ameliorate certain “inequalities” if it so desires.  That has zip to do with the market(s) other than they’re probably the fastest and best means to earn the wealth necessary to apply to the desired solutions.  It simply doesn’t follow logically that the functioning of markets somehow inherently means inequality of education, health care and job opportunities.  In fact history points to precisely the opposite being true.

Finally, Chopra, like many opponents of Capitalism, confuses the crony capitalism of today with actual Capitalism in its pure form.  Crony capitalism does indeed “promote corruption, both economic and political”, and we’re living through that today.  But Capitalism as a economic system doesn’t encourage either and, in fact, does its best to work around it via the market mechanisms that send the signals that encourage consumers to seek substitutes and/or alternatives when something doesn’t smell right.   But when government interferes, sets artificial bars to entry, writes legislation that favors large businesses that support powerful politicians, that’s not Capitalism.

The Mellow Jihadi quotes Winston Churchill with one of the better rebuttals:

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

Enough said.


Twitter: @McQandO

36 Responses to Misunderstanding Capitalism

  • “Chopra goes on to say that “the free market lacks a conscience”.   ”

    It also has no agenda, politica or otherwise.   Therefore it is completely FAIR to all.  And isnt that what liberals want.  Fairness?  or do they just want the power to impose their version of fairness?  I think the latter is much closer to the truth.

    • Fairness? or do they just want the power to impose their version of fairness
      >>> BINGO. I work in a field where “social justice” and “common good” are huge buzzwords and movements. And I can state without a doubt that these people do not in fact, have a clue about how these things work

  • promote corruption

    I’m reminded of a John Stossel piece where he, not proved but, displayed how “corruption” often offers a path around impediments to the “free market.”

    • You mean like “gypsy cabs” in city markets where government has imposed…at the behest of incumbent cab companies…a protected quasi-monopoly?
      The market “wires around” that impediment, but makes the gypsy cabbies outlaws.  Which is a pure crime on the part of government, IMNHO.

      • Stossel showed how in some countries, the bureaucrats are so thick that the only way to get thing done was a “quick payoff.”
        By contrast, he showed one country that was so “anti-corruption” that nothing got done.  Factories would be built and wait months or years to get electricity, while the politicians argued.
        I’m not recommending the “Soviet” lifestyle” but at times it does have it’s place.
        Years ago, my company merged with another.  We got a good laugh out of the form “project planner” that had a section for paying bribes (especially in the Middle East).  Of course, nobody does that now.

        • A Chinese friend at work once told me that he felt China was freer then the US. This was because they had less ability to monitor and control you. You could get away with a lot. Consider what we know about Iraq and most households having full auto AK-47s which few Americans have. However, such a system carries a significant price IMO, in that they is a level of uncertainty over everything you do.

      • I have this great story about how to sell military uniforms in the Middle East.
        I got it first hand from an accountant turned salesman who was the “Christian face” of a uniform company run by some Jewish guys.

  • Capitalism discourages equal access to wealth, leading to enormous gaps between rich and poor.

    This is an outright lie.  What it DOES do is enormously raise the standard of living for EVERYBODY…a MUCH more telling metric than how much money one has.  Nobody with a brain could dispute this (which will exclude Erp).  Look at India and China as models in the very recent past.  Look throughout history for other models.

    The free market lacks a conscience, giving rise to inequalities of education, health care, and job opportunities.

    Again, an outright lie.  The opposite is the truth.  ANYBODY with the basic stuff can obtain a good education.  EVERYBODY can have excellent health care (and too many get it essentially free), and…in a truly capitalist market for jobs, NOBODY is discriminated AGAINST OR FOR.
    As to the “conscience” cannard, I’ll stack up a free-market system against any comers, and give them points as to equity.  Anybody with the funds can buy a car, as Thomas Sowell has noted many times.  A Mercedes gets one nowhere a Ford does not.
    The market TENDS to inexorably impose efficiency throughout the economy, so maybe that is to be “without conscience”.  It is also the most beneficial and least wasteful of all systems, by its nature.  Look to planned economies for models of what you get with “brights” employing their “consciences”.
    This leads to another truth about market economy; it is the ONLY system consistent with the ideals of liberty, where each adult is considered capable of making their own decisions…eating the consequences…and learning in their own interest.

    Finally, capitalism if unchecked promotes corruption, both economic and political.

    Again, an outright lie.  ONLY when corrupted by GOVENMENT intervention in the market is that true.  A free market DESTROYS monopoly, for instance.  To survive in a market economy, monopoly and other NON-COMPETITIVE players HAVE to have special protections they ALWAYS seek from government.  This was noted by Adam Smith well over two hundred years ago, and I know of no exceptions in history.

    • The worst thing about capitalism, as far as I’m concerned, is that it creates so much wealth that pompous, narcissistic idiots can find jobs doing nothing of value, and then have the spare time to afflict the rest of us with their idiocy.

      • Actually, Billy, I could make the case that that type has done remarkably well in any system, including during the Dark Ages.
        Come to think, they REALLY did well during the Dark Ages…  This could partly explain why they are trying to bring them back.

      • You take the bad with the good.  Our society has enough wealth to afford wonderful things like the various museums in DC and other cities, great works of art, collosal buildings, etc.  Unfortunately, that means that there’s money laying around to employ people like Olbermann, Maher and Chopra.

    • You need to look no further than China, for a recent example.

  • Deepak Chopra is not an intellectual, and the only thing you need to prove it is to watch this short video of him getting owned by an audience member. The deer-in-the-headlights look on his face tells you everything you need to know about this guy’s thinking capacity.

  • This is not as off-topic as it may seem…

    “The civil justice system in San Francisco is collapsing,” Feinstein said.
    Some 200 of the court’s 480 workers will be let go by Sept. 30, including 11 of 12 commissioners who preside over a variety of cases. And she said it could get worse if optimistic revenue projections don’t materialize by January.
    “The future is very, very bleak for our courts,” Feinstein said at a Monday press conference. Feinstein said criminal cases would remain largely unaffected because of constitutional guarantees of speedy trials. Every other type of court, though, is facing significant cutbacks.

    Ah…the sickly sweet smell of the Collective rotting…
    When government EXPANDS to attempt to govern everything, it ceases to govern anything well.  Reagan had it right; private enterprise should do everything possible, with only a few things tasked to government.  People should be free to conduct their own lives to the maximum extent possible.
    Obama made it worse.

  • “Capitalism discourages equal access to wealth,
    rubbish – this is because Chopra probably never swung a pick or an axe a day of his life.  raw gold sitting under a foot of sand in your back yard isn’t ‘wealth’ until someone knows it’s there, and comes and exerts the effort to get it out of the ground, refine it, and bring it to market.
    And I’d like to know what mechanism Chopra would replace it with that doesn’t involve taking things from people who earned them through their work or ideas, and giving them to people like Chopra who seems to think his job is to ‘think’ for us and inflict his moral standards on us.

  • Capitalism discourages equal access to wealth, leading to enormous gaps between rich and poor.

    WTF? Capitalism – the free market – only discourages inefficiency and stupidity.  Otherwise, if you’ve got some brains, a good idea, and a good work ethic, you can do well for yourself.  What’s doubly amazing is that Chopra has done well in his life: he’s a doctor.  To hear him tell it, he NEVER could have done that in a capitalist system.

    What a moron.

    McQChopra has, for some reason, come to be viewed as an intellectual by many. 

    At risk of opening myself to charges of raaaaaacism, I suggest that this is totally due to the color of his skin: it makes rich, white liberals feel good about themselves to hoist a member of a “downtrodden minority” up as an intellectual.

    Say… that seems familar!  I’m drawing a blank… Isn’t there some other minority person who’s feted as a great genius and near-messianic leader despite having no public records available to demonstrate how smart he is?  Can somebody help me out?

    • Hey, his book about Merlin was okay.
      That must make him an expert of some sort.

  • Capitalism prevails as a system that once vied, supposedly, with Communism for world dominance, yet its deep flaws remain.

    Yet another stupid, ill-educated statement by Kapok.  Even early Marxist theorists EXPLICITLY understood that Communism would only work well where a capitalist system had ALREADY created wealth.
    The systems were not seen by them as competitive; communism was supposed to be the “new wave” after capitalism.

    • So, communism is where capitalism goes when it retires, sorta like Florida?

      • If you are saying that communism is god’s waiting room for entire economies…yeppers.
        Another metaphor…like cancer, communism would find its greatest flowering only in a healthy capitalist body.
        Grim, I admit….but very, very apt.

        • Yes, what the mooches who sat with their kaffee and crumpets in London while writing Das Crapital forgot is that wealth must be renewed constantly and communism just doesn’t do that very well, what with people contributing and getting according to the master plans of the central committee as opposed to their own motivations to get ahead of Mr & Mrs Jones.
          You can keep infecting a lively economic system from which to jump to communism from, but, to stick with your last metaphor like any good disease, it will soon kill the host.

      • Then what the hell is China doing flirting with capitalism ?  I guess China is an example of “communism on drugs”

        • Frankly I think the Chinese are the only people who can make communism sort of work.
          God gave the Irish Whiskey to prevent them from conquering the world.
          He gave the Chinese Communism.

          • Just as in any other country, the government in China stands in the way of business. The communists did not actually create all of the growth in China, but just allowed some people to start operating in a free market. That started all of the growth. Its critical to note that “allowing” people to do something isn’t really that amazing a feat.
            And they still have so many arcane rules in China that harm growth…my favorite is that they make every factory submit a list of goods they plan to make and export that year, including quantities! (I guess they still have that plan mentality.) So, when you come up with a new product, the factory has to go back and re-apply with new quantity attached. But what if you are unsure how well something will sell? Tough luck. If it sells too much, you get in trouble, or if you sell too little the same thing. (Some of that may be excuses to get bribes)
            This was one reason we had trouble when US customers would ask for an extra 20 empty cartons to be put in a shipment to replace some damaged ones. A simple act of customer service was not allowed, because, wait for it, the factory hadn’t applied to export boxes and wasn’t therefore allowed to do that.
            I won’t even mention the special 10 day holidays for government employees which means the customs guys go play, and all your shipments get disrupted…

          • OK, OK, one more…so I went back to China and was going to eat and I noticed every single store in a row of shops had removed their original signs (which looked totally fine) and had in place temporary banners instead.
            Apparently some official, most likely with a nephew in the sign business, decided that all the signs should be uniform in size and ordered the offending signs taken down. But somehow they hadn’t decided on the size, so for months they had to make up banners and use those instead.

          • 🙂
            I said sort of work.
            I’d forgotten the cost of that ‘sort of working’ and remembered it on the way home from work.  Much easier to kill off ideas when you just kill off the people who may think them to be good ideas.

  • I could not be any more unconcerned at whatever Deequack thinks. He is only slightly more stupid than his followers.

  • Off the top of my head, the late great Milton Friedman opined to the effect that capitalism wasn’t a system.  Rather a free market is simply what free people do when they have the freedom to do it.

    Further,it is not access to wealth per se that matters,but rather access to commodities.   As the Heritage Foundation noted, the people the Census Bureau defines as poor have access to cars, color televisions and air conditioning.   Where as in the former Soviet Union you had to have political connectinos to have access to toilet paper.

  • Chopra has obviously been on LSD for some time, along with the vast majority of the so called “intellectuals” of the post-modern era. (Note: post-modernism states quite clearly that intellect, reason, logic, etc., are impotent.)

    • Isn’t it amazing he’s allowed to sell his product in the free market?
      Under communism, he would be imprisoned.
      One point for communism.

  • Capitalism discourages equal access to wealth”?
    >>> No, I think that’s absolutely accurate, but not in the way this guy thinks. Equal access to wealth is the absolute opposite of (and ultimately the destroyer of) capitalism. By it’s very nature, capitalism is about unequal access to wealth.
    What capitalism is about though? Everyone has the same equal chance to be able access wealth. You get educated/learn a trade, work hard, or come up with a good idea, and you can increase your access to wealth. And if you don’t…..then you won’t. It’s a simple system, and sure it’s a broad brush I paint with, but by and large, those who fail at it can blame themselves, not capitalism
    And THAT’S what it’s all about.

  • Somehow this system that discourages access to wealth has produced the richest poor people in the world, certainly richer than those living under any other system.