Capitalism and Unfair advantage

What people call “crony-capitalism” is a private party gaining an unfair advantage in the marketplace over his competitors by the means of governmental intervention in trade. This happens by lobbying the Government to pass trade regulations in their favour, creating state sponsored monopolies. But when the Government is accorded such power to intervene in the market, by the citizens, the market is no longer free, and the political-economic system is not Capitalism.

Allowing governmental interference in trade activity will incentivise the private parties to lobby, and makes the bribery of governmental officials possible. Absent governmental interference, there is no way an individual can have an unfair advantage in the market.

Observe that “fairness“ doesn’t mean “equality”. Fairness is a concept to be understood in the context of economic freedom. A free trade is fair trade. It means that the consumer is choosing by his free and voluntary will, with his complete knowledge, the best product in the market he can afford, from the producer he wishes to buy from. The choice is not unfair, if it is not forced upon him.

Competence makes wealth possible, not the other way around. In a capitalist system, wealth is produced through competence, and lost through incompetence. How the individual spends his wealth is completely his choice. If a poor producer is not able to compete with a rich producer in creating and selling a better product at a lower price, it is not unfairness. It is unfairness if you are forced to buy from the poor producer, by the government, because he needs money, though he is incompetent. It is unfairness if any producer, poor or rich, is not allowed to sell his product in the marketplace through governmental interference. It is unfair because then, your choice to trade is no longer free.

In a Capitalist society, the institution that protects the individuals against the abuse by a producer who sells his goods to his customers by cheating or stealing, or by physically forcing his customers to buy from him, or by forcing his competitors out of the market by physical violence, is Government.

Individual rights are the means of preserving an individual’s morality in the society. They are the principles that protect an individual from the immoral choices of his neighbours. The only proper purpose of Government is to protect the individual rights: Life, Liberty and Property, whose meaning is in essence, to safeguard the freedom of action of the individual.

Capitalism is the only morally proper system of economy, because it is the only system that is made possible by, and works on the principle of individual rights.

– Avinash Kumar.

Note: This article is originally my answer to the question on Quora: How can capitalism be a success in India if there are too many people in India who lack proper morals & ethics and thus misuse capitalism to promote crony capitalism in order to cheat and abuse people for their own benefits?

Alleged fulfilment of the American dream in the Nordic countries

The American dream was the ideal that any individual can make his fortune according to his ability, irrespective of his background or lineage, and keep it— by voluntarily dealing with other individuals, absent physical force and compulsion. The forefathers made sure that necessary conditions exist for the survival of a rational individual: the kind who can produce wealth, and keep it without the fear of being robbed or looted of it by others, especially the Government. They laid foundations for a nation to be built on the Principle of Individual Rights— a relatively new concept to grasp.

Individual rights are not entitlements. They are the principles safeguarding a man’s “freedom to take action” in a social setting: the freedom to pursue his own chosen course of action for the fulfilment of his own life without compulsion, freedom to produce and trade his own wealth on his own terms. Such conditions, especially the implicit right to free trade made it possible for the individuals to create unprecedented wealth, improved their living conditions drastically, and anyone who exercised his freedom to voluntarily produce and trade his products, benefitted tremendously, in proportion to his competence.

This was true until the late 19th century, when the Government still maintained a reasonable —but dangerously reducing distance — from the economy, primarily acting to protect the individual rights. It is no longer true today. America is not a capitalist country. It is a highly regulated mixed economy, like most other countries.

The existing conditions, projected as allegedly desirable aspects of Nordic Countries, are in fact, violations of the principle of individual rights. The government providing unearned income— no matter how high or low the amount provided might be— to non-productive individuals: at the expense of productive individuals, maintaining an “accessible” or “free” universal health care system: at the involuntary expense of individuals, including those who do not intend to use or pay for such a service, providing free and “high” quality education to all: at the involuntary expense of individuals, including those who do not intend to use or pay for it, attempting to fix the “gender gap”: when the employment of an individual ought to be a voluntarily made contract exclusively between two free individuals, are all violations of individual rights, by creating systems that institutionalise the involuntary sacrifice of an individual’s life(time, energy, efforts) for the benefit of others.

This is a from of moral cannibalism. It doesn’t matter if they arrive at such a system democratically. A man’s individual rights cannot be voted away through majority will in a society where individual rights are recognised. Unless of course, the meaning and the principle of individual rights is perverted —as it is being done today across the world—by changing it from “freedom to take voluntary actions—and bear the expenses” to “freedom to take the products of actions of others—and pass on the expenses to those who take productive actions.” A rational man would have no choice but to move out of a society which institutionalises injustice.

The Nordics who think that they happily agree with their existing heavy wealth redistribution system —and many think that many do—miss the point that agreement is never an issue in any society. It is the individual’s freedom to disagree with the collective, that requires protection. What choice does a rational man have in Nordic countries other than to leave his country?— A man who only cares to live within his means, neither sacrificing others to himself, nor sacrificing himself to others. Forcing a man to leave the society, not because of his vices, but for his virtues, is not the characteristic of a civilised society.

It has been recently said,—by the World Economic Forum — economists found that people withdraw from economic life if they perceive that opportunities and wages are “shared unfairly”.

The idea that economic opportunities ought to be “shared” fairly or unfairly, can only arise in a society where people accept that wealth earned by a man is not his own by right, and that he is bound by an obligation to spend it in ways prescribed by those who didn’t produce it. In a society where trade and government are completely separate —a Laissez Faire Capitalist society— a man who provides economic opportunities to those who do not deserve them, will lose his wealth in the market. The price for his wrong assessment of an individual’s worth, is paid from his own pocket. It is justice, and no rational man can have any problem with that.

People do not withdraw from economic life if they cannot get an economic opportunity for which they do not qualify according to an employer’s judgement. They are forced to do so, —as is happening across the world today— when it is made impossible for them to get an opportunity from any other employer, who would have employed them,—and they would have taken it—but didn’t, because of some democratically approved “progressive legislation” which forces the employer to pay his employees a wage which he cannot afford, forces him to hire and manage his employees on the basis of gender, and forces him out of existence—qua an employer— through taxation, for supporting the services which he would never otherwise intend to use, offered by those, who he would never voluntarily employ.

Government —as a force that is authorised to appropriate your products— can never solve economic problems. It is the source of all widespread economic problems that plague nations.

– Avinash Kumar, 16 June 2020.

The meaning of political equality

Political equality means that the individual rights of all the citizens are equally recognised, and protected by the Government. It is the essential condition for existence of a free society, and the only kind of equality possible between individuals.

Remember that the concept, “rights” only pertain to the Freedom to take actions: the individual’s freedom to live, to think, and consequently take actions to produce and trade values, without compulsion or intrusion from other individuals, including and especially, the Government.

If a group of individuals is accorded any exclusive rights, that are denied to others, its meaning and unavoidable logical consequence is a state-sponsored monopoly on production and trade.

Observe that the violation of your freedom to produce and trade, by others(especially the government), essentially implies and requires the violation of all your rights: It implies the violation of your right to think(since the purpose of thinking is to take action, and your freedom to think is redundant if you are not free to act and produce values in accordance with your judgements), and the violation of your right to live(your life, ie., a life proper to man: a non-parasitic life, requires that you think and act to produce and trade values, in order to sustain your own life). This is the reason why a free mind and a free market necessitate each other.

In this context, economic equality may be understood only in the sense that all men must possess the same political-economic right: the right to free trade. ie., the freedom to produce and trade any values with other individuals, with the voluntary consent of both the parties involved in the trade.

This doesn’t mean that all the individuals should be equally wealthy. It only means that all the individuals must possess the same freedom to think and act, to produce and to trade: the same freedom to live. In a laissez faire capitalist society, —ie., a society where individual rights are absolutely protected, and the government is completely separated from trade: making the state-sponsored monopolies impossible— your wealth is a consequence of your competence in exercising your freedom to produce.

– Avinash Kumar, 7 June 2020.

Note: This article is originally my answer on Quora to the question: “What is the relationship between political equality and economic equality?”