Thursday, August 16, 2012

Free Markets or Bureaucratic Dictatorship

Much of the political debate today is simply a question of whether one thinks capitalism is a good idea or not.  Many westerners seem to believe that the profit motive is fundamentally evil. Defenders of free enterprise are often thought to be morally suspect.  This is where the real struggle is being waged in today's politics.

The discussion about Bain Capital brings into sharp focus the debate on the merits of capitalism.  Should people risk their own capital to make money or should, instead, the government take people's wealth and 'make investments' with it.  That is what this debate is really all about.

A similar debate about free markets rages about health care.  Should a panel of educated and enlightened people appointed by polticians decide on your health care or should you purchase the health care and the insurance that you need and make such decisions yourself with consultation with health care professionals?  That some people are poor seems to weigh heavy in this debate.  But, this argument applies to everything, not just health care.

At the end of the day, this is an argument about whether free markets are going to survive.  Obamacare tosses out what is left of free market health care for a mandated system that forces every American to do what Obama wants or else.  Making your own health decisions is not an option under Obamacare.

The idea is that there is an enlightened elite that knows what all of us should be doing, what we should buying, what should be our energy sources, our health care providers, our bankers, and on and on.  That enlightened elite can do this better than the free market is the argument.

Has this been tried before?  Yes.  The Soviet Union, the China of the twentieth century, modern Cuba, modern Venezuela, modern Argentina are excellent examples of how an enlightened elite can perform.  Except for the governing elite, these societies were free of inequality (and greed, one supposes).  The governing elite, of course, lived (and lives) in palaces.  After all, the enlightened who guide us, should live well and they do.  As for the rest of us, we should be comforted that everyone else is as miserable as we are.  That seemed to be the ethos of the old Soviet Union.

How do people get to this bizarre idea?  Poor people are almost never in the vanguard of the movement to eradicate capitalism.  Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx lived luxurious life styles, certainly compared to the mass of their contemporaries.  Only from the rarified environment of the London Museum could Marx have concocted the absurd idea that a 'dictatorship of the proletariat' could bring anything worth having to anyone.  Real folks in the real world know that this is ridiculous.

Rich folks, movie stars and academics can engage in the luxury of dreaming that by imposing their views on everyone and substituting their views for individual freedom and free markets, the world will be a better place.  Everyone else is too busy trying to find a job and support their families to indulge in such nonsense.

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