Is business basically good in character or basically evil? Are objective values possible without freedom to trade? What is the source of technology, industry, and material wealth? Is the economy a pie that needs to be redistributed for the common good? And what is the "common good"? What kind of political system does capitalism require? Why is physical force inimical to capitalism and to trade? What is the relation between capitalism and freedom, and between capitalism and individual rights? Today capitalism is still widely attacked in books and government and even in street protests. What is the reason for these attacks?
The answers to these important questions, and more, can be found in the following essays.
Recommended background reading: "What is Capitalism?" in Capitalism: The Unknown IdealToday we live in era of that some call the triumph of capitalism. But, as this essay shows, political thinkers and economists hardly know the meaning of capitalism. Rand explains what capitalism is, why it made the Industrial Revolution possible, and how it came to be vilified and almost universally misunderstood in the 20th century. "The moral justification of capitalism lies in the fact that it is the only system consonant with man's rational nature, that it protects man's survival qua man, and that its ruling...
Read Article : Capitalism And Morality
When George W. Bush was President and Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, some despairing liberals turned to George Lakoff for help. Lakoff is a linguist at the University of California, Berkeley, who specializes in the conceptual structures underlying language. A progressive himself, and the author of several books about political language, he claimed that conservatives were winning politically because they had managed to define the terms of the policy debates; even those who did not accept the conservative position had implicitly bought into a conceptual framework that made it difficult to state their opposition effectively.
To illustrate his point, Lakoff often used the example of Bush’s call for tax relief.
The phrase "Tax relief"… got picked up by the newspapers as if it were a neutral term, which it is not. First, you have the frame for "relief." For there to be relief, there has to be an affliction, an afflicted party, somebody who administers the relief, and an act in which you are relieved of the affliction. The reliever is the hero, and anybody who tries to stop [him] is the bad guy….
Liberals who wanted to increase taxes to pay for government programs, he said, would not win the debate merely by citing the specific benefits of new programs. They also needed to put the concept of taxes into a different framework, to reconceive them not as an imposition but as the dues you pay to be an American, to be a responsible member of a country that offers an immense...
Read Article : The Conceptual Preconditions of Freedom
Academics, the media, and Democratic politicians, like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, have suggested that reducing inequality should be a central objective of public policy. This focus represents a substantial change from a previous consensus, which suggested that it was the reduction of poverty, not inequality per se, that should be given priority. This reorientation is not just a grave practical mistake, but as a moral matter, inequality is also undeserving of government concern. There is no substantial evidence that inequality of wealth harms our society in general. Any program of reducing inequality will have substantial costs, not least to the economic growth that can redound, among other things, to reducing poverty.
The Poverty of Moral Justifications for Targeting Inequality
First, the moral justification for targeting inequality by government coercion is weak. Poverty represents an extreme form of distress. And, intuitively, we feel an obligation to help people in extremity, just as if they are seriously ill. But most people do not have such intuitions about inequality and for good reason. People are unequal on many dimensions besides wealth—in physical attractiveness, in underlying health, and indeed in their innate capacity for happiness. Why should society single out material inequality as the most important form of inequality—one that alone demands state power to correct?
There is no substantial evidence that inequality of wealth harms our society in general....
Read Article : Why Inequality Should Not Be an Object of Social Policy
If it’s a coincidence that “individual” begins with a letter that’s also a closely associated word, it’s a happy one indeed. Individual and I are inseparable. “I” is the pronoun used to refer to oneself as the speaker, writer, thinker, or actor. Without exception, “I” is an individual, not a group or a collective of any sort.
This fact is worth endless celebration. For the profound truth it represents, we should be thankful every waking moment of our lives. I rejoice that I’m not a replica, an appendage, or a cog. Like each and every one of you reading this, I’m a completely specific, utterly unique, self-winding, and inner-motivated one-of-a-kind. No other human in our planet’s history was or is exactly like me or precisely like you, either. I’m not someone’s robot. I will resist efforts to program me or collectivize me into something I’m not. If ever you catch me trying to program or collectivize you, blow the whistle so I come to my senses.
I’m appalled at the ease with which some people speak of their fellow citizens as though they are liquids to be homogenized or tools to be manipulated—not by request but by the force of political power. It’s all for the nebulous collective good, they assure us, but for some reason they are willing to do us harm to achieve it.
A Yearning for Independence
In keeping with my individuality, I seek to be as independent and self-reliant—a burden to no one—as my abilities allow. I will speak for myself and gladly accept responsibility for my...
Read Article : I, Individual: Why the Individual Should Be Celebrated