Capitalism Is a Beast Worth Taming

Capitalism is a beast worth taming. And we must tame it, or it will devour us.

Money allows people to get fair compensation for their goods, without having to find someone who both wants what they have and has what they want at the same time. It’s much better than barter on a large scale.

Credit is an amazing invention that allows people with good ideas to act on them even if they don’t have the money on hand to do so.

The public stock corporation is an amazing invention that allows people to spread the risk of innovation and allows people to contribute to ventures on a fluid, piece-meal basis.

These things have allowed us to create pencils, computers, video games, houses, cars, airplanes, spaceships, and so on. These are things no one could create on their own. Try to create a pencil by yourself. Spend a week roaming nature to find the graphite and the rubber and the steel and the wood, and then figure out how to assemble them into a pencil. Good luck. Now go to the store and buy one for ten cents. That’s the beauty of capitalism. It coordinates the activities of billions of people so they can create things no one individual or group could without the market.

If all the capitalist institutions were ripped away tomorrow, the world would plunge into poverty, and we would destroy the environment far faster than we are right now. Imagine seven billion people burning firewood to stay warm. Good bye trees.

Yes, capitalism makes the world go round, and earth has no chance of carrying 7 billion people without it (until we come up with a better idea — which has not yet been done). However, . . .

Capitalism is famously not without problems. Left unregulated, capitalists will pollute, collude, exploit workers, and corrupt the government.

And wealth makes it much easier to make more wealth. Much, much easier. It gives unfair leverage to those who already have wealth.

That’s why it makes sense to me to support both capitalism, AND the need for redistribution, intelligent regulation, and vigilant insulation of our political bodies from the influence of money.