A Comment About Capitalism In America

I recently read a post from one of my favorite tech/life websites, Know Your Rights as a Passenger to Avoid Getting Screwed When Flying. While I love the website for it’s great tech and life tips, when it comes to politics and economics, that site is pretty clueless. The post starts out, “The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released a new version of the flyer’s rights bill this week, requiring airlines to treat you a little better.” So, according to the site (and the government), the government bullying airlines into doing stuff for us is now a “right”. This is a good example of how the government and many people think regarding the origins of rights. To them, rights are simply a gift from one man to another, or from one class of men (the ruling class, a.k.a. the government) to another (the lowly serfs, a.k.a. the general public).

Below the article I read a few of the comments and many were equally ignorant of the source of our rights. A few people were discussing the benefits of socialism and how in the United States we can sometimes be extreme at adhering to capitalism and the Constitution. I couldn’t hold my tongue and had to chime in and here is the comment I posted in response below (I’ve added emphasis here, the original comment on the site was not allowed to include it):

I’m often saddened by so many people who think that America is “capitalist”. I study the Founders, free-markets, and the concepts of liberty quite a bit. I also study the more socialist ideas of fascism and communism. The current state of America is best described as “economic fascism”, or sometimes call “corporatism”. There is NOT free-market capitalism in most industries in America. On topic, the airline industry is very heavily regulated and has been for decades. Even the so-called “deregulation” of the 80s barely touched most aspects of the industry and it has been much more regulated since 9/11. The most basic thing to understand when considering socialist intervention into any aspect of society is this: The moment government exerts authority over any aspect of society, those with the most money and most political influence will use that authority to their advantage and others detriment. This is not because those people are inherently evil, it’s because if they don’t, their competitors will. In a truly free market, there would be little to no lobbyists because there would be no government intervention to influence. The government’s job would be to enforce the rule of law (fraud laws, contracts) and the airlines would have to compete for your service by being better than their competitors, not by spending their time and money to satisfy their government regulators and making themselves equal to their competitors. It boils down to who does the industry spend their time and money trying to satisfy? You? Or the government?

What most people in modern society have lost is this: that you have communism on one extreme (total government ownership and control of society) and anarchy on the other (no government whatsoever). America was founded as a Republic (ruled by law) and therefore, economically a free-market, and THAT IS the middle-ground and what “strikes a balance.” Fascism, Socialism, and Communism are all extremes and different forms of government control on the same end of the political spectrum.

If you have gotten to the end of this and are thinking, “Well look at the current financial crisis and the state of so many things in American society. Obviously the free markets and such this guy is talking about don’t work.” Then you haven’t understood what I have said. Listen to the people that predicted the financial crisis and read some http://mises.org. You’ll be changed forever :)

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