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America is Not Capitalist

The United States is often criticized for its capitalist and free market economic system. There is one problem with this criticism. The United States is not a capitalist society and has not been for some time. First, we must define some terms. What is a capitalist society? First, capitalism implies little to no government interference in the economy. Of course, this does not rule out needed safety regulations. Capitalism does not imply lawlessness. Economic freedom does not mean a business owner can do anything they please. Capitalism also does not necessarily imply exploitation.

Capitalism means free trade, private property and mutually beneficial exchange. When a merchant from nation A can freely buy oranges from nation B and sell those oranges for a personal profit and then use those profits to hire others to handle the affairs of his orange business, this is capitalism at its most ideal. When a merchant from nation A has to pay heavy tariffs to get the oranges because the government of one of those nations has decided to restrict the orange trade, this is not capitalism. For example, the so-called “Tariff of Abominations” passed by the US House of Representatives on June, 12th 1828 sought to protect northern and western agricultural imports from foreign competition. However, this tax on foreign imports raised the cost of living in the South and may have hastened the events that led to the Civil War. It certainly caused deep divisions.

This was the United States’ first slip away from true capitalism, the economic system our republic had been founded upon. Nowadays, we have slipped so far away from those principles that it seems almost impossible to call the system we have in place capitalism.

In a truly capitalistic society, the state would not give tax money to certain favored corporations. This is exactly what happens in the United States. There are companies who are given direct subsidies by the state. And what is the cost to you, American taxpayers?

Boeing gets the most at 13 billion dollars. Yes, you read that right. Boeing, of course, builds planes for the US government so this is somewhat justifiable. Intel, a data center company, gets 5.9 billion dollars in government subsidies. Alcoa, an aluminum company, gets 5.6 billion dollars. Toyota and Hyundai, Japanese car companies, also get American taxpayer dollars to the price tag of 1.1 billion and 0.6 billion dollars. This is not capitalism as it is the state unfairly favoring one corporation over another. This is corporate welfarism.

Property rights, particularly the rights of ranchers, are also under siege. Ranchers must pay a fee to graze upon public land. As ranchers are taxpayers (presumably) they pay to maintain the land and hence have every right to graze their cattle there. By establishing this system of fees, the government is impeding on the rancher’s right to free enterprise. Saying that they must pay a fee to graze the cattle which they rely upon for their livelihood is as ridiculous as someone saying I’d need to pay a fine to walk my dog in the park. (Perhaps, that will be next.) This reached the heights of government tyranny when Cliven Bundy’s cattle were seized by federal authorities. Now, to be sure, I do not agree with all of Bundy’s views particularly not his views on “the negro.” However, at no point should the state ever seize anyone’s property. Not only is this an example of why we are not a capitalist society, it is an example of how we have long ago left the principles of a constitutional republic and have slouched towards the darkness of totalitarianism which is nothing less than the alliance of corporate and state power to crush the people and enrich the elite at the expense of the people.

 

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