Sunday, March 7, 2021
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Tag: U.S. Capitalism

Following the Golden Rule under Capitalism

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The darkest gray of extreme free market capitalism in the U.S. is the idea that subsists under this economic system that the profit-motive is the overriding consideration in human affairs, trumping all other social concerns. Under such a system of economic beliefs, one who takes this or that action is only condemned if the "return" has not been maximized relative to all other possibilities that the individual has to choose from. Yes, extreme free market capitalism discourages discrimination on all grounds except from that which no profit can be made. But extreme free market capitalism also dissuades individuals from taking objects that have not traditionally been subjected to the economic gaze (e.g. wetlands, endangered species, human well-being, etc) and placing these objects at the top of their economic calculations, if they are placed at all. An inevitable consequence of this line of economic thinking is preventable oil spills, non-fuel efficient cars, a continued reliance on fossil fuels, and so on.

I use the term "extreme" because the form of active-state capitalism that has developed in the U.S. through trial and error is not, of course, free market capitalism at its most radical. Through trial and error, our country has democratically concluded that free markets, left to their own, will reap irreparable and/or catastrophic economic and social turmoil. Adam Smith, the father of modern capitalism, understood that left to its own, wealth and power would accumulate among a minority in the marketplace and individual freedom would find itself in a strait-jacket of tyranny. Hence the rise of Marxism as the consequence of "unfettered" capitalism led directly to the toiling masses of Europe's major cities (as well as its rise in academia following the global financial crisis beginning in late 2008).