Give capitalism a break already
01 November 2011, 13:58
Every day, I read comments on News24, by some blind follower of some leader, about the evils of capitalism.
If I were to believe these comments (which I would have to drop about 50% of my IQ points to do), capitalism is the root of all evil. Let’s take a closer look at that though.
Let’s start with what capitalism is.
First, you have free market capitalism. The kind of capitalism people are usually thinking of when they talk about capitalism, whether in a derogatory or any other context.
This is a system where business, pricing and everything else is based on supply and demand. It’s the kind of system where the corner shop sells you milk and bread at a slightly inflated price, to offset the convenience factor. It’s a system where chain stores sell you brand name clothing at very inflated prices, because they are brand names, and you’re a fashion slave.
It’s also the system where minimum wages are determined by the available supply of skills, and the demand for those skills.
It’s a system that is brutal in its honesty. Everything has a price, and everyone is out to get their price for the products and services that they offer. It’s also, however, the only system that allows economies to grow, allows for an increase in jobs, and truly rewards the entrepreneur. It’s a system that rewards street smarts, business acumen and hard work, and leaves those who are lacking in all of those lying by the wayside.
Not pretty. But let’s look at another form of capitalism too.
This system is called state capitalism, and whether we like to admit it or not, it’s already in practice in SA, and likely to become more prevalent if the nationalisation and other talk becomes law.
This is where the state owns many of the large service and product providers in the country. It’s where the profits from labour, from hard work, and from original thought go not to the people who work for them, but to the government that runs the country – whether they deserve it or not.
That doesn’t sound too fair either, does it? In fact, it’s one step away from a few other isms, all of which star the population of a particular country, poverty stricken no matter WHAT they do. None of those isms reward hard work, and it’s why there are so many people around the world fleeing them for capitalist countries.
The fact is, capitalism is a system that works much like the proverbial donkey and carrot. The donkey (or workforce in this case) walks because the carrot (monetary reward) is dangled in front of it. It’s a system where the possibility of reward for hard work, ingenuity or cleverness drives action.
It’s also a system where everyone involved, regardless of race, creed, gender or upbringing, has the potential for economic freedom – in the purest sense.
So what I want to know is why capitalism is being demonised, and how giving an already blatantly corrupt state more money and power is going to benefit anyone? How is taking away the carrot of capitalism going to promote growth or development? How can a false economy, built on the kinds of half truths and whole lies the proposed alternatives are based on endure?
The fact is, it can’t.
The only way forward for South Africa is to embrace capitalism. To create a culture where business is encouraged. And I’m not talking about big business, who are already resting on their laurels, but they guy on the street corner, punting his wares, or the lady in the neighbourhood who sews at night, or watches kids on the weekend. That’s the root of capitalism, and it’s often the birthplace of big corporations. It’s also what puts food on the table, when there just aren’t enough jobs to go around.
Capitalism, as much as it has been maligned by those who fail to understand any words that have more than two syllables, is the only thing that can save South Africa from herself, and it’s time we all stopped trying to say different.
Oh, yes, and by the way – government should not be involved in the free market economy at all. They already have a function - it’s called governing and managing, and if they’re doing a piss poor job of that, why on earth should they be dipping their toe in any other pond at all?
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Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.