Capitalism’s Horn of Plenty

It is easy to get vexed about government interference in the economy. What is not so easy, or so it appears, is to explain why free markets are better for everyone. Well, everyone except the people who benefit from crony capitalism.

Since “the poor” are a point of contention for many advocates of state intrusion (they would call it “regulation,” or something of the sort), let’s tackle that one right away. If you want to help the poor, first make sure you are not one of them. Wealthy people do far more tangible good for the poor than other poor people ever will. You don’t have to crave a Silver Phantom Rolls or live in an opulent pleasure palace to make wealth acquisition a part of your value system. Many humble and modest people you meet, believe it or not, are quite wealthy. They just don’t get a bang out of showing off. Aside from their contributions to wealth creation, chances are they contribute heavily to charity.

Second, focus on ensuring that there is plenty of whatever it is you want the poor to have. If it is housing, figure out ways to contribute to the construction of affordable homes. If it is medical care, figure out how support private clinics. Clothing? Toys? The possibilities are endless.

Helping Others

Last, advocate policies that make it easier for businesspeople to create the things that help poor people. For all the goodness in many of my liberal friends’ hearts, their instincts are to look at what already exists and figure out how to give it to someone else. The problem is that eventually, no one wants to produce those things, figuring they will be confiscated and redistributed.

Capitalism, properly understood, is a noble system in which we prosper when we help others. If the poor are whom you wish to help, start a business that makes what they need at a price they can afford. Then go to sleep knowing you have done humanity more good than any government program ever will.

–Terry is glad you read his blog today.  He does not really want to live in an opulent pleasure palace, but wouldn’t mind visiting one sometime.  Let him know if you can arrange that.

About Terry Noel

I am an Associate Professor of Management and Quantitative Methods at Illinois State University. My specialty is entrepreneurship.
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