Several days ago I shared a link on Facebook that discussed the negative elements of liberal elitism, and as I expected I received several comments based upon the political beliefs of the respondents. Once again, those comments have caused me to ponder what it is that I believe. Even so called pop stars say we must be political, so how am I political? What is it I believe? I do know I am against Socialism. I agree with Hayak, it is the road to Serfdom, thus the metaphor Godzilla. I believe in the power of Capitalism, if used right, can lead people to freedom, but it can be a Predator. Let me define terms and then why I chose the metaphors I did to represent Socialism and Capitalism.
In my mind Socialism, in any form, is as Hyak stated, “The Road to Serfdom.” Hyak believed that central government planning would lead us once again to working for the lords. “High taxes and large government will have the same effect as it did 1000 years ago.” The question in my mind then, is how big should government be? Can the government provide services more effectively and efficiently than the free market? I think this is a fair question. However, I am not sure it is the right question. A better question would be, are there services that the government should offer because it is a right?
In Condoleezza Rice’s wonderful book, “Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom,” mentions the role of security as necessary for a Democracy to thrive. In the chapter that discusses Columbia, Rice states, “The Columbian government had to provide security for its people.” FARC and other paramilitaries were undermining the stability of the country. Therefore, any Democracy needs to be secure.
I do think there are other responsibilities of a central Federal government other than security. Federalism in the United States expresses the relationship between our central Federal Government and the government provided by the States. After the Civil War the United States moved to Dual Federalism. However, after the Depression FDR’s New Deal policies moved us more to a stronger national government. Ronald Reagan attempted to move us back to what was called the “New Federalism,” where power was moved back to the states.
The size of the state has been debated and continues to be enacted in its various forms, depending on who is in power. I think this reflects the people in the United States and I think it is positive. I believe that for our country to continue to be free there needs to be a Ying and Yang. This will ensure the government does not become too big or too small.
Take healthcare for example. I think everyone should have access to good healthcare. I also think people should take care of themselves. The compromise then would be to have a healthcare that is available to all people, but if they want better health care they can buy a supplement. Whatever level of taxes required to provide that type of healthcare system, then so be it. This is not the centralized planning of the economy. It is people, as represented by the government we elect, taking care of each other.
However, when it comes to the economy Capitalism is the system to have in place. Based in the value of vocation, the system is based in the ability of people to choose what to purchase, where to work, and when to climb the ladder. Where this becomes problematic is when systems are put in place to favor those with power. This is what anti-capitalists focus on when discussing their reasons for being against the free market. However, I am one who believes that even though this system is not perfect, it is better than all the others.
The first premise of capitalism is profit. In other words, having something left over. Through the voluntary exchange process the person who has the ability to own their own business will run the business in a manner that is efficient, therefore, having something left over. Thus the pillars of capitalism are private property, self-interest, competition, a market mechanism, the freedom to choose, and the limited role of government.
In either case, Socialism or Capitalism, there can be excesses. However, I would equate Socialism to Godzilla and Capitalism to the Predator. Godzilla is an iconic character originating in Japan. Metaphorically it represents the horrors of nuclear war. Through its atomic breath, reptilian body, and muscular arms, it can destroy cities, people, and a nation. Godzilla’s roar can send chills into the hearts of those affected by his presence. The size of Godzilla is overwhelming and terrifying. Some would say that Godzilla is a metaphor for the United States, but I am using it as a metaphor of the ability of Socialism to destroy the world. Just as dangerous is Capitalism if not coupled with Democracy.
To illustrate this danger I am using the Predator as a metaphor. The Predator was an alien who came to the world to devour its prey. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, and Jesse Ventura were a part of the team to kill the Predator. The problems associated with the Predator were evident, skinned bodies and bones, while the Predator was hard to see, but had deadly tools that could be used to destroy the people around him. The Predator is a metaphor for the ability of Capitalism to leave skinned bodies and bones alongside the road as it move along.
If left on it’s own Capitalism, not known for fairness, can lead to the same excesses as Socialism. However, with the right team in place, Democracy, the ability of the Predator to kill can be controlled. Schwarzenegger’s team was made up of volunteers, so I think another control on Capitalistic excesses is personal choice. People should choose to be benevolent.
As I reflect on both metaphors, I think the Predator is evil and dangerous, but I think Godzilla is the larger problem. Once in place Godzilla will be harder to destroy than the Predator.
In conclusion, I am a Democratic-Capitalist. I am not ashamed of this and am willing to shout it from the housetops. I am very concerned with this growing desire to become Socialist, and agree with Hayak, it will only lead us back to becoming Serfs. However, as I alluded to with my metaphors, without controls on Capitalism, it too is a problem, and can lead us to the same place, serfdom.
And that is my thought for the day!