Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (from this point described as AOC) has determined capitalism in the United States as “irredeemable.” AOC has a degree (cum laude) in economics and international relations from Boston University. So a member of the U.S. Congress with an economics degree describes capitalism as: “Capitalism is an ideology of capital-the most important thing is the concentration of capital and maximize profit.” While the aforementioned quote is a great summary of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, there are other considerations regarding capitalism.
Capitalism was outlined by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations in1776, with the newly-minted United States as an “early adopter” (gosh, I’m sure I heard that somewhere else.) Mercantilism, which preceded capitalism, was the fruitless feudal attempt of the nobility to retain the wealth created by the peasants and serfs. The United States gave up the feudal system and set out on a capitalist journey after fighting off the greatest power on earth. In case you are wondering, Article 1, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution prohibits the states from granting titles of nobility, that is, prince, duke, or any other title to a citizen. In short, the founding fathers had enough of kings and royalty. (I’m sure they would have exempted Elvis, but that’s another essay.)
It is not to say that the United States, nor am I implying, that the taxation and wealth distribution of the U.S. is fair and equal. As economist Milton Friedman pointed out decades ago, the poor pay, as a percentage, more of their income in taxes than do the wealthy. On the other hand, the poor in the U.S. are much better off than the poor in almost any other nation you could name, and the poor reap the benefits of American-style capitalism, if only by association. Clean water, sanitation, food, and other essentials for life are the direct result of capitalism.
The southern border of the Unites States is awash with refugees from socialist kleptocracies who wish to come here and experience “The American Dream.” When those refugees set foot upon U.S. soil, they are richer than they have ever been before, if for no other reason than the potential that the United States offers.
Those who think money is a poor motivator understand neither money nor motivation.Jeffrey Neil Jackson
A prime example of the U.S. being generous with its wealth is the number of illegals who choose to have their children born in the U.S., where their newborns instantly become U.S. citizens with their first breath. Parkland Hospital in Dallas has one of the highest numbers of births by illegal immigrants of any hospital in the U.S.
One of the federal agencies asked that Parkland document the number of births attributed to illegals and one of the Parkland administrators told the federal government that they would not cooperate. Had I been a federal official, I would have ceased any further federal payments to Parkland, just to see if the federal contributions that line their wallets had anything to do with their wealth. Illegals are notorious for not paying for their hospital services. Parkland would have complied with reporting or the federal cash spigot would run dry. Most of us could predict the outcome had the federal government simply ceased any more subsidies.
There are simply more advantages and opportunities in the U.S. than anywhere else you can name. This opportunity does not mean by any stretch of the imagination, that all can take advantage of it, and there are certain citizens who are born with a silver spoon in their mouth, where the red carpet stretches as far as they can see.
Rampant pollution, discrimination and predatory capitalism stain the record of the United States, and there is no denying that fact, but dwelling upon it and insisting that young people know every detail will not change that fact. Our democracy can and has addressed the failures of our past, but we are far from perfect.
The government of the U.S., especially during the Progressive Era, addressed some of those problems with regulation and government oversight. The idea that the government (folks like AOC) being left in control of the entire economy and the welfare of citizens has never worked, no matter how optimistic Karl Marx was in Das Kapital. You can look at any socialist nation you wish, and few have the benefits that the U.S. offers, in spite of the irredeemable capitalism of the U.S. There are other nations with longer lifespans and better education scores, but remember that the U.S. educational system is run by our government.
“The Great Resignation” is irredeemable U.S. capitalism in action. Employment in the U.S. is voluntary, and the voluntary resignation of millions of workers in recent months is a prime example of that benefit. Most socialist nations do not offer choices in one’s means of a living, where resigning is not an option. I humbly submit that being unable to resign from one’s government job is, in fact, and irredeemable quality of a government. The Covid-19 pandemic has, along with the mass resignation, increased wages to their highest in decades, another economic phenomenon that only capitalism can create.
American corporations and the super-wealthy have politicians in their pockets. Money gets the attention of politicians more than anything, but that is certainly not limited to the U.S., now is it? Money is the mother’s milk of politics, and will likely remain so. The failure of politicians to address the needs of their constituents is not a failure of capitalism, it is a failure of democracy, and of the politicians specifically. If the representatives serve mostly the rich, they are representing only ten percent of their constituency. Income redistribution will not solve that problem, nor will socialism. Since I am not rich, I have no objection to the taxing of them, but that notion has never come to fruition, nor is it likely to do so. Original quote of mine: “Those who think money is a poor motivator understand neither money nor motivation.”
Jeffrey Neil Jackson is an
Educator & Literary Mercenary