In these politically charged times, with all the hype and exaggeration in the media, it’s helpful to back away for a bit and get our bearings.
Let me be clear at the outset, I am an unapologetic free market guy. I am an unapologetic capitalist. Our economic system, for all its faults, has produced the greatest level of prosperity for the greatest number of people in the history of the world. Those who would push socialism have never lived where it was actually practiced, to see the resulting “equality in poverty.”
Free enterprise or free markets, means that there is minimal red tape, minimal government interference with those who would start businesses, grow businesses, create jobs and products and services. It is the system of innovation and entrepreneurialism.
Capitalism is a subset of the free market, an economic machine that thrives in the context of freedom. It means that you don’t sell your labor for money—a self-limiting economic model, since you only have so much labor to sell. It means, instead, that you learn and dare to put your money (capital) to work for you. Let me repeat, a capitalist doesn’t just work for money; money works for them. This can happen in something as simple as a savings circle, a bank account, a mutual fund, stocks and commodities, and funding businesses (including your own).
Free market capitalism is a formula for prosperity. But, and it may surprise some to read this, it does need some oversight. Government, as an institution of justice, does have a role to play to curb excesses and unethical actions; after all, while most people want to do right and will if left alone, not everyone will. Yet, not too much oversight. Bureaucracy doesn’t understand business and will regulate it to death if not balanced by a constitution and an open election system for accountability; after all, there are as many unethical people in government as in business.
So, let’s strive to unleash markets and business, funded with capital from people, balanced with a relatively but not absolutely laissez faire (let it be) role for government. Government is then held in check by the electorate. The result is a healthy, balanced economic engine.