Friday, January 7, 2011

On being "anti-Capitalist"

I wrote the following in response to this "anti-Capitalist" opinion piece in the "Panama News" today…thought it might be of interest to some of you. (The article in Spanish for those of you who want to read or translate in google... 

Dear Editor,
Just a few reactions to the opinions you published of Esther Vivas being interviewed by Enric Llopis regarding “Solo podemos salir desde una perspective anticapitalista” (“We can only go from a Anti-Capitalist perspective”). While Spanish is my second language, I think I understood very clearly Ms Vivas’ views in Spanish, but will respond in English.

Many of the “causes and effects” of our global economic meltdown are rightly attributed by Ms Vivas to the disenfranchisement of the masses or “clases populares” by their governments and the financial machinations behind those governments.  Yet, I am still trying to connect the dots…after more than two decades of trying to do so philosophically…between the disparities of economic growth between rich and poor, and the philosophy of “capitalism” as the “evil philosophy” behind those disparities.  She uses England, France and Spain as her main examples of how corrupt “Capitalism” is. Last I knew those “states” were primarily based on liberal socialism…not capitalism…and they are basically “going broke” on that model.

Capitalism is defined as “an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, especially as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth.”  It is my observation that our modern world has not operated on pure capitalism in my lifetime (over five decades) and instead we continue to globally go down the path of government controlled markets and governments siphoning off more and more of most nation’s GDP. That along with the decline of morality overall in the world where there are no longer handshakes with any meaning and contracts between states and corporations that are reams long have little significance or reliability.  Private individuals or corporations are more disenfranchised in the world’s financial order every day as liberal and bureaucratic statism continues to dominate all productivity and changes the order of “things” each election cycle.  This has nothing to do with “capitalism” and in fact is more about defeating free markets and distribution…to the detriment of the masses, workers and even the environmentalists who like to blame “capitalism” and “profit” for their every ill.

As Esther Vivas so poignantly points out, “…explain why one in six people in the world are hungry, when there is more food today than ever.” Where the dots don’t connect for me is how “capitalism” is to blame for this. I would argue that it is core capitalistic pursuits and theory that have pushed farmers and producers the world over to create more food to feed the masses.  The limits to distribution, which is more or less the main issue of world hunger, is primarily controlled by the manipulating and dictatorial governments…mostly of leftist mentality…who put up the trade barriers, high tariffs and rake the best product off the top for their own use and enrichment.  This is NOT about capitalism.

The main problem with the socialist agenda is that they are not “real” about the money it takes to carry out their programs…and their morality is fundamentally flawed as to how they want their programs paid for.  We need more morality in government, not less capitalism, to solve the world’s economic and hunger problems.  The demand is obviously there…and there is plenty of supply. We just have to look at all the layers in the middle who are in the way of productivity and distribution of wealth. That distribution needs to be built more on the model of Adam Smith and Milton Friedman than on Hugo Chavez or Fidel Castro…or Karl Marx for that matter. Please don’t equate Capitalism with Imperialism.  If markets versus statist governments had been allowed to perform more freely post World War II, the world would today have a more even platform of exchange in world goods and profits.

My final point is for the near future…the great common denominator of opportunity in our globalized economies will not be so much based on access to “cash”, but based on access to “information”. Thankfully, it is the capitalist motivation behind new information technologies that are bringing financial distribution to the world’s emerging markets…bypassing the imposed limits of government bureaucracies and corporate industrial complexes.  Being “anti capitalist” will do nothing to improve the current world economic situation.

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