A common theme among American socialists is that capitalism is a system that exploits the “little guy” for the benefit of the wealthy. These socialist “freedom fighters” paint a picture of Ebenezer Scrooge refusing to put more coal in the furnace before going into the back room to count his endless stacks of money. While the mental picture may be captivating, it is far from an accurate portrayal of what capitalism looks like in practice.
Free market capitalism has the ultimate system of checks and balances. It gives power to customers, employers, and employees. The customer gets to choose a product or service based on what is most beneficial for him. He rewards the producer of that good or service by paying him for it. The employer gets to choose the quality and price of the product, as well as the wage he is willing to pay employees. However, if he slacks on the quality of the product or refuses to pay a decent wage to his employees, he is going to have problems. The employee has the power to choose an employer based on what is most beneficial for himself and his family. If no employer offers him the wage or hours he wants, the employee can choose instead to start his own business and become an employer himself.
Like any other economic system, capitalism does not turn society into a spotless utopia. As long as we live in a fallen world, there will always be problems. However, capitalism is the system that is most conducive to providing a beneficial outcome for customers, employers, and employees. Those that are willing to serve others rise to the top, while those that try to cheat others or refuse to work hard will naturally get left behind.
America has prospered because of our deeply rooted tradition of trusting the free market economy to pick winners and losers. The more we flirt with government intervention in the economy, the more we risk losing the prosperity we have so long enjoyed. The next time you hear a socialist lamenting the alleged evils of capitalism, make sure they know that capitalism offers an attractive system of checks and balances to benefit everyone.