Modern Capitalism

In an economy where time equals money- and lots of it- people cannot afford to just sit back and wait for the social welfare offered to civilians in other countries. The America we live in today is not a capitalist country, for we have lived in a mixed economy- a mixture of capitalism and socialism- for more than a century. We live based on the principle of individual liberty–the unchallengeable right to follow your own dreams and act according to your own judgment. But in reality- isn’t pursuing profit and your own self-interest wrong? And if that’s the reason, then why do Americans love capitalism?

It’s the great sought- after American dream, and the sole propaganda machine that tells us that if we work hard and are good members of society, we too will make it to the top of the pyramid. The most prominent problem, however- is that the top is higher and smaller than it has ever been before. In every society that wraps class and hierarchy in its fingertips, immorality amongst the human race is promoted by capitalism. A rigged system, or as Adam Smith describes it; the “invisible hand”, or the self-interest of individuals, dominates the economy, and so it is not the system itself that is immoral, but the people who follow the system.

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Strict capitalism has no regulations, which ends up creating opportunities for the rich to get around the rules and make more money while they leave the poor in the dust. Don’t we have a moral obligation to selflessly put the needs of others above our own? Why is it wrong to try to make the most of your own life, neither sacrificing yourself to others nor others to yourself? Don’t you have as much right to your life as anyone else has to theirs? There is much in capitalism that brings out the moral best in people. And there is much that can bring out our immoral worst.

Capitalism as an economic system is based on one’s own greediness, willingness, and intelligence, to turn “evil” and exploit the system in order to take advantage of it, and gain wealth. The system can be called a design- and it’s up to you to manipulate it. For starters, capitalism is great at producing wealth and prosperity that connects with a number of positive moral outcomes. Markets can cultivate positive moral behavior on the individual level. To prosper in a competitive market economy, one would need to have certain virtues, like the ability to work hard and plan for the future while trying to improve oneself, and be reative in the process. In theory, those with more of this kind of feature, get bigger rewards in a free market economy. Capitalism gets bad media compared to the alternative, socialism, because it produces less social wealth, and less envy and bitterness. Capitalism produces the enticement of money to make superior products, and people could be rewarded, and more jobs can be made in response. However, this cannot be the reason to negate the general welfare of those among us. Capitalism and democracy can work hand in hand- and create something that regulates those that overcome the poor.

The government promotes the principle of general welfare in socialism, but in this system, there’s no longer the incentive in humans to make more money, or better products, or get better money from making those better products. Modern capitalism, and the consumer values that go with it, elevated the pursuit of short-term gain and pleasure over the more traditional values of self-restraint and obligation toward others, eroding away some very important human values. Increasingly, we see the unethical logic of self-interest, profit, and product deficiency, not to a mention a me-first, consumer mentality.

In the face of this logic, it has become harder to defend a fuzzier set of ideals, like our kinship with other people – our compassion, our respect, and our obligation to others. It has become increasingly harder to see ourselves as citizens who share a common fate with total strangers, and who think in terms of us, not me. One of the saddest parts of Michael Moore’s movie, ‘Capitalism, A Love Story’ is that it touches our young people, and young people want change. In a society where you’d work your butt off in college for, you’d expect a good paying job and a chance to live this “Big American Dream”.

In his movie, Moore told the story of Wilkes-Barre, where the juvenile detention center was contracted out to a private company. This is where a couple of juvenile department judges sent minors, who were maybe guilty of petty crimes (and maybe not guilty because no one bothered to find out), to jail for a quick buck. In the end, 6,500 kids were unjustly convicted and incarcerated for some simple money. The solution is not to get rid of capitalism. Capitalism is the goose that lays the golden egg and fulfills the human need for greed. So rather, the nswer is to check the moral problems of capitalism with foundations that overlook human values and promote them. Government regulation is all important in this regard- where we don’t want so much government as to significantly weaken wealth opportunities or one’s individual initiative, but we also don’t believe in immoral behavior going unrestrained. The balance in recent years has been tilted way too far toward deregulation and it’s time to redress that imbalance, because capitalism needs a government.

Works Cited

Thompson, Bradley. “Socialism vs. Capitalism: Which Is the Moral System. ” Ashbrook. Oct. 1993. Web. 1 Mar. 2012. <http://www. ashbrook. org/publicat/onprin/v1n3/thompson. html>. Tracinski, Robert. “The Moral Basis of Capitalism. ” The Center for the Advancement of Capitalism. Web. 1 Mar. 2012. <http://www. capitalismcenter. org/Philosophy/Essays/The_Moral_Basis_of_Capitalism. htm>. Gill, Ellen. “Capitalism: A Love Story. ” Ellen’s Illinois Tenth Congressional District Blog. 5 Oct. 2009. Web. 1 Mar. 2012. <http://ellenofthetenth. blogspot. com/2009/10/capitalism-love-story. html>.

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