“I have never understood why it is ‘greed’ to want to keep the money you have earned, but not greed to want to take somebody else’s money.” -Thomas Sowell answering “Is Capitalism or Socialism the Ideology of Greed?”
My Take on “Is Capitalism or Socialism the Ideology of Greed?”
Why Capitalism is Conflated with Greed:
Almost every socialist will tell you that their ideology is the ideology of kindness, caring, justice, etc. They act like their God’s gift to the finances of the poor and that whatever they might do is justified because of that. Sure, we all (on the right, at least) know it’s a lie. But does anyone call them out on it? Nope. In fact, when asked in public “is capitalism or socialism the ideology of greed?,” far too many on the right would say capitalism.
We’re not helped by those like Ayn Rand who based their support of capitalism on the idea that “greed is good.” What they should have said is that productive energy is good. Wanting to get out of bed and build something, like Marcus Aurelius said to do, is far different than being greedy.
Additionally, those on the right aren’t helped by the lack of comprehension many have about the difference between capitalism and corporatism. Capitalism is a hugely beneficial force that is based on laissez-faire economics, free trade, and upward mobility. It’s been part of the common American creed since Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations.
Corporatism, on the other hand, is based on government favors and big business oligopolies. It is undoubtedly a negative force. Unfortunately, many modern socialists conflate it and capitalism. That makes their version of “capitalism” an abhorrent confluence of Big Business and Big Government.
But, let’s pretend they’re right. Even then, is capitalism or socialism the ideology of greed?
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Why Socialism is the Ideology of Greed
In one of his best quotes about socialism, Winston Churchill called socialism the “gospel of envy.” Personally, I think that is the best description that could possibly be given to socialism. It’s the ideology of greed, the gospel of envy, and the holy text of moochers.
Let’s continue with the thought exercise of what if the left is right about capitalists really being “greed is good” corporatists. What then?
Still, I think socialism is far more the ideology of greed and envy than capitalism. Sure, those despicable people I just mentioned would be colluding with the government and focused only on personal enrichment, but still, they’d at least be producing something. It might be inefficient and seedy, but it’s still production.
Socialism, on the other hand, is just theft. All forms of wealth redistribution are theft, in fact, which is why wealth redistribution is immoral and should never be considered by American politicians. It’s a way for politicians to buy votes and kill off those that disagree with them.
Just look at the history of socialism in the 20th Century: greedy people took over the government, confiscated wealth and made themselves and other bureaucrats rich (read about the real Che Guevara to see the wealth of some socialist leaders), murdered tens of millions of political opponents and forced even more into poverty. Socialism is truly a failed ideology of greed. There’s no other adequate description that I can think of.
But still, socialists claim that those that simply want to keep their wages are the greedy ones. If you want further evidence that that’s false, just read Free Market Revolution by Don Watkins and Yaron Brook.
Conclusion: Is capitalism or socialism the ideology of greed?
I think it’s obvious that socialism is the ideology of greed. it’s proponents want to use unjust taxes, such as the death tax or Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax, to take and redistribute wealth. That’s greedy and evil.
Capitalists, on the other hand, just want to build something. I want to note that in the section above, I used a worst-case example. Far from being greedy corporatists, most capitalists are good people that want to add value to their community through creating a superior product. And those people are far better than any socialist.
Finally, I think that’s what Thomas Sowell was trying to say in the above quotation. Capitalists just want to keep what they earn. That’s why tax cuts are good for all; they inspire more capitalists to build the economy.
Socialists, on the other hand, want to use authoritarianism to take what capitalists make. We can’t let them do that here. Obama tried it and Atlas started to shrug– capitalists stopped trying. Imagine how bad that would get under a Warren or Sanders presidency…
There’s nothing good about collectivism. People need to learn that. Teach them that the socialists are the greedy ones.
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