Saturday, June 21, 2008

Basking in Benevolence

What a delight it is to sit on my deck, soak up the California summer sunshine, watch the ocean shift from early-morning steel-grey to a glistening, late-afternoon silver-sapphire, engrossed in the reading of Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics by George Reisman, Professor Emeritus of Economics.

Sun and economics. I revel in them both.

I am just finishing up Part I (a mere 100+ pages of this 1000 page magnum opus) – and already at multiple points, I’ve had to pause, draw in a luxurious deep breath of sea-side fresh air, and immerse myself in the glorious benevolence which emanates from his discussion of capitalism. Oh, he is understandably testy about and disgusted by the misanthropic premises of environmentalism, but the overall tone of his writing is one of reverence and awe for the complex, yet finely-tuned and superbly functioning mechanisms of the free market. He repeatedly highlights the incalculable benefits capitalism has bestowed on the lives of human beings: longer life-spans, better health, a cleaner, safer environment, greater well-being, an alternative to war.

Peaceful, mutually-beneficial, voluntary trade. That is the essence of capitalism. The application of individual rights (life, liberty and property) consistently applied to trade results in transactions where each party is enriched, each life enhanced. In the struggle to overcome poverty, in a life which would otherwise be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short,” capitalism provides the means to make allies of us all. I can’t wait to read more about the “benevolence of economic competition and economic inequality” –phrases he offers as appetizers to the deeper explanations yet to come.

Down the road, I hope I have time to summarize in this blog some my favorites from the myriad of points he makes, but for now, I just want to share the sensation of the splendid sun shining down on me – and the glorious, life-affirming warmth shining out at me in ideas and sentiments from Dr. Reisman’s book.

Economics. Who would have thought?


Sue said...

Do you write on a laptop? It really sounded like you were in the moment, on the deck, while you were writing.

You do a nice job of simply stating the benefits of capitalism. It is challenging because it was become such a "bad word" in our culture that when it is mentioned, images of greedy factory owners subjugating poor, helpless workers with unsafe working conditions come to mind.

How can we combat that?

Beth said...

I sure was on my deck in the sun. I think I write best with paper and pencil, later transferring it to the computer in order to edit and spellcheck.

Combating the misconceptions about capitalism is the main purpose of my blog. By refocusing our thinking to the fact that wealth is the solution and that capitalism is the means, I hope to reconnect capitalism to all the positive connotations it truly deserves.

I am totally serious in my belief that capitalism is the answer to world peace and personal happiness.

It's inspiring.

John said...

I too am in the midst of reading Dr. Reisman's book "Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics." What a fabulous book so far, and it is anything but "dry" reading, as so many people describe such topics as economics or science. For me, reading Dr. Reisman's book is like reading a mystery novel: the more I read, the more I need to know, and the more clues I need to discover to understand how capitalism functions and brings so many wonder benefits to mankind.

It is clear from Dr. Reisman's writings that the two most essential key elements that establish capitalism as the greatest social-political system for man's proper, objective progress in life are (1) individual freedom, and (2) division of labor - arrising from which you call "peaceful, mutually-beneficial, voluntary trade."

I think that one way help combat the negative impression that so many people have about capitalism is to imphasize the fact that, because capitalism is the only social-political system based on individual freedom, individual rights, and property rights, (for any individual human being anywhere), it is therefore, truly the only moral social-political system for mankind.

The opposite of capitalism is any soical-political system of statism (socialism, marxism, etc.), as the key element for statism is that an individual's life belongs to the state, and the government controls the economy. From my perspective, statism (in all its forms) are immoral social-political systems, because they "enslave" the individual.

For me, the choice is clear: either capitalism and freedom, or statism and force. The moral versus the immoral, or life versus death. Simple.

Beth said...

Hi John,
Thanks for your comment. Although wealth is an essential part of the solution, it is clearly not sufficient. Truly, the solution includes human freedom, rationally defined. I chose to concentrate on the wealth aspect of things in large part because of the recent explosion of anti-wealth, anti-production sentiment promulgated by those concerned about global warming. Whether or not you agree with the theory of catastrophic anthropomorphic global warming, the solution is not the halting of industrial and economic progress. However, wealth has been so vilified by the media, the politicians and the culture in general, I wanted to provide an analysis which counters that point of view. Freedom and wealth are the means (liberty and property) while man’s life is the end. I find it absolutely tragic that the causes behind our prosperity and the factors which are necessary to mitigate poverty and suffering are so little understood and valued. Most people understand the value of freedom, even if incompletely or inaccurately. Far fewer grasp the essential value of material wealth.