Is Capitalism Immoral?

by on April 7th, 2009

Perhaps you saw the protester’s banner outside the G-20 Summit that read “Capitalism is Immoral.” Writing at, Austin Hill explores this assertion and makes a reasonable foray into the argument’s inner paradoxes, such as asking what the protester’s alternative might be? The obvious answer is that draconian government regulation and controls to redistribute income more aggressively would mitigate capitalism’s inherent unfairness.

However, by embracing that argument, Mr. Hill overlooks a more fundamental one: Why is it that people who are convinced they have the moral right to slaughter innocents in the womb also believe their are default moral arbiter in economics? Indeed, this is the same crowd–nay, mob–who would abrogate our 2nd Amendment rights, ensuring that only criminals are armed, who embrace illegal aliens who are draining our public coffers, and who would emasculate our military while inviting radical Islamists in through the front gate.

But, as we descend into the inner-workings of their argument, the first point is radically clear: Regardless of the fact that America has the world’s second highest corporate income tax, and that its personal income tax rates are already painfully progressive, it doesn’t “give back” to the fiscally unwashed masses in sufficient amounts as to render it ‘moral.’ Therefore, despite the fact that the top 1 percent of income earners pay 39 percent of all federal income taxes and that the top 5 percent pays 58 percent (and, that the bottom 50 percent pays 4.3 percent), the unalloyed liberals feel it’s still not ‘fair.’

Beyond the fact that this demonstrates it’s not, in fact, about fairness, it proves that such arguments have a limitless elasticity and inexhaustible capacity to soldier on, the abundance of evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. It’s also a testimony to our public education system, our jaundiced media, and our ‘higher’ education system, that work in refined harmony to ensure the next generation is thoroughly inculcated with the notion that capitalism is all about greed, not opportunity, that there are winners and losers–which, of course there are and ought to be–and that the latter are permanently mired in failure.

The truth, of course, is a rather more mundane matter. The ‘fairness’ the left lionizes is really only a matter of a nominally level playing ground, which is to say, bi-lateral contracts, freely negotiated. That begins with the employment contract: Neither the employer nor the employee is forced to accept the contract and neither is obliged to maintain it against his will. It also covers the marketplace: If you want to drive the extra miles to Wal-Mart to save up to thirty percent on groceries, it’s your call; the same goes for negotiating with the flinty used car salesman–you can play hardball, but if you don’t have the skills or nerve, you’ll likely pay sticker price.

The reason all of this is to distasteful to liberals is twofold: First, it places the onus entirely on you, regardless of your innate intelligence, aptitude, or saviness; and, second, by definition, if you fail, it’s your fault, which nullifies the left’s lengthy (and self-serving) list of excuses, from ‘the system,’ to one of its many ‘-isms,’ all of which whittle away at the real truth, which is that each of us is ultimately responsible for our own success or failure.

Integrally related is the fact that one episode of failure doesn’t mean we’re out of the game, rather, it means we might well have learned something to better prepare us for the next challenge. But, in the left’s ‘zero-sum’ game, failure is at once final and humiliating.

There is, in fact, nothing whatsoever ‘immoral’ in capitalism, which is the system that has lifted more people and nations out of poverty than any other. Because, it not only encourages innovation and risk-taking, it requires us to include accountability in the equation, and, when we’re accountable, we tend to play by the rules. That is conspicuously lacking in the left’s endorsement of the government as the economic arbiter. Moreover, self-interested behavior becomes an oxymoron when we’re obliged to live in a statist nation.

Mella is editor of

Philip Mella