What has capitalism ever done for us?

Michael Tanner writes at Cato:

A self-professed “democratic socialist” is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, and he is running neck and neck with a party icon. Polls show that more than a quarter of Americans have a favorable opinion of , which might not sound so bad until you learn that that includes 43 percent of those under age 30, and 42 percent of Democrats. Meanwhile, barely half of Americans have a favorable view of . Democrats, in fact, are as likely to view positively as they are capitalism.

What accounts for this collective historical amnesia?

Tanner reminds us:

After all, if one looks at the long course of human history, our existence was pretty much hand to mouth for most of it. All that began to change in the 1700s with the development of modern — that is, capitalist — economics.

But one doesn’t have to go back 300 years to see the advantages of free-market capitalism. Consider that in the last 25 years, a period during which much of the world has embraced free markets, a billion people have been lifted out of poverty, and the global poverty rate has been slashed from more than 37 percent to less than 10 percent.

It’s not just the decline in poverty that tracks with the adoption of free markets and capitalism. Literacy rates increase and infant mortality declines as countries adopt market-based economies. Life expectancy rises, and people’s health improves. Even the environment gets cleaner.

And opportunities open up for women and minorities. Indeed, nothing challenges entrenched elites like the “creative destruction” of free-market capitalism.

People don’t like the destruction of capitalism but without destruction, you don’t get new businesses.

There was a reason, after all, why West Germany built the Mercedes-Benz, while East Germany produced the Trabant.

Bernie Sanders may think it’s terrible that we have a choice of deodorants, but most Americans would rather not shop in a Venezuelan supermarket.

Need more? According to the Human Freedom Index, more economic freedom correlates with more personal freedom. Just consider countries with state-controlled economies and how little personal freedom they allow. On the other hand, countries with free-market economies tend to be free in other ways, too.

Economic freedom and personal freedom almost always go together, with only a couple of exceptions such as Singapore.

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