Author Kenton Long
Our Founders embraced capitalism. America was founded on capitalism. Capitalism and our Constitution complement each other, dovetailing. Our nation’s Founding principles of individual liberty, property, and rule of law only abide by capitalism as its economic system. Capitalism is an expression of individual liberty. Individuals of a society cannot express their Individual liberties without capitalism. Every American should be as in love with capitalism as they are free speech or right to privacy.
Cronyism is not capitalism. Cronyism is the twisted bastardization of capitalism. Cronyism is an expression of our sinful broken human nature. Cronyism is the expression of our human tendency for greed, selfishness, insecurity, and fear.
The Left loves to confuse capitalism for cronyism. The Left hates capitalism. Hates it. The Left points to greed and says, “See! Capitalism caused this inequity. Capitalism is the problem. Capitalism is selfish and mean-spirited and ruthless. We must ‘progress’ away from capitalism to socialism—a government controlled economy. Only the government can solve the problems of greed and inequity.”
The term “capitalism” was—not surprisingly—coined by Karl Marx, a Leftist. Anyone who attended a college in the U.S. “knows” capitalism is bad. That’s what colleges have been teaching for decades. Colleges are smelly breeding grounds for Leftist thinking. On campus, the word capitalism is as distasteful as rape and racism.
Before Marx, we simply referred to America’s economic system as free trade, free enterprise, free-market economy, or simply political economy. Adam Smith’s book The Wealth of Nations (1776) was the basic text of economic liberty to our Founders. I believe it was no coincidence Smith’s seminal work was published at the same time our great nation—a new experiment in government—was taking shape.
For the purposes of this article I will use the terms “free-market economy” and “capitalism” interchangeably. They are, afterall, one-in-the-same.
Secondly, I wish to state we do NOT have a free-market economy today. Not like in our Founders’ day, and certainly NOT as they hoped. What we have in America today is cronyism and socialism. Free-market economy still lives in America, but has been pushed nearly to extinction by the Left.
Capitalism is the sandbox of individual liberty. Our society. How we trade our wants and needs with one another. The freedom to trade with one another within the confines of the rule of law. When partners in trade break the law, break a contract of understanding, the government provides a court system to address grievances for harms done. That’s about as involved as the government should be in a free-market system.
Capitalism is where you have the right to keep your property, and the government protects that right. Capitalism is where money is considered property. Capitalism is where two parties freely come to an agreement: I will sell this widget to you for $10; I am willing to pay $10 for that widget I want or need. Or, I will only pay you $10 per hour to help me; I am willing to trade my time and effort if you pay me $10 per hour. Capitalism is where management and labor can compromise.
Capitalism is where problems are solved, illnesses find cures, needs are met, wants are satisfied, the undiscovered is discovered, and ideas come to life.
Capitalism is where freedom fashions our character, choices challenge our resolve, and temptations test our faith.
But the reward of capitalism is a two-sided coin: With the joy of personal freedom comes also the burden of personal responsibility.
Cronyism, on the other hand, is when businesses buy favors from politicians and bureaucrats. Cronyism is when companies hide harms done to people and the environment in order to satisfy their own greed and financial security. Cronyism is when regulatory watchdogs look the other way. Cronyism is when bankers and fat cats buy their way out racketeering charges—when banks are “too big to fail.” Cronyism is when companies take huge financial risks, lose those bets, then push those losses onto blameless taxpayers. Cronyism is when big companies lobby congress for new regulations big companies can afford to accommodate, but crush their smaller competitors. Cronyism is when the government picks and chooses which bankrupt companies it will bailout, or which companies are exempt from the law (such as waivers for ObamaCare), or protects voting blocks like labor unions.
Cronyism has always been with us. Cronyism exists in capitalism as well as socialism. Cronyism will always be with us because man’s fallen nature will always be with us in this world.
Capitalism is not cronyism, as the Left would have you believe.
Capitalism allows us the fullest expression of our unalienable rights in a society of people. And by extension allows us more opportunities to serve God’s purpose.
How to separate cronyism from capitalism: Condemn the sin, not the sinner.
(Incidentally, Obama hates capitalism.)