Why Certain Capitalists Need To Gain Compassion




Lauren Bulanek, Op/Ed and Shark Stories Editor

The United States is commonly regarded as having a system of free-market capitalism, however, that’s a common misconception. The US has a mixed market economy with elements of both capitalism and socialism. The current economic system is designed to allow for private enterprise, but it also grants the United States government the power to intervene when necessary. Though the United States doesn’t have a purely capitalistic economic system, we are very close to it.

Capitalism is defined as “an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.” It is often known as the free market because anyone can take part in it and anyone can benefit from it. Capitalism is often regarded as having four factors as its foundation; these factors are entrepreneurship, natural resources, labor, and capital goods. Capitalism is operated by the laws of supply and demand, a theory that focuses on the interactions between the producers and buyers of a good. The law of supply focuses on the sellers, while the law of demand focuses on the buyers. The law of supply says that sellers will provide more of a good if they can get a higher price for it. The amount supplied will fall as the price falls and vice versa. The law of demand states that buyers will consume more of a product at lower prices, and vice versa. If the price rises, the demand falls. Free markets try to find the point of equilibrium, the price at which the supply and demand are equal. With the theory of supply and demand as its foundation, private enterprise has been developing since the 18th century.

Adam Smith is known as “the father of economics” due to his creation of modern economic theory and philosophy. He is best known for his 1776 novel, “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.” The novel is regarded as a major work of economic theory and outlined the role and purpose of the free market. His first novel, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, introduced the theory of the “invisible hand,” a theory that the free markets will regulate themselves. This theory helped create the concept of gross domestic production (GDP). Since the 18th century, the United States has used Smith’s ideas as a foundation for its own economic systems.

The main focus of capitalism, the free market, is what distinguishes it from other political and economic systems, such as communism. Capitalism gives anyone the freedom to participate in the market, but with this freedom, people are free to be left to their own devices. 

This article is not about whether capitalism is good or bad. This article is not about changing the system we have in place, either. This article is simply about how the current values some capitalists are driven by a need to change. I have no feud with American business, in fact, I have been working to become an entrepreneur. I do, however, have a feud with the animalistic tendencies of those that prioritize short-term goals over long-term livelihood. The ocean should not be a dumping ground for toxic chemicals, no matter how much money it saves in the moment. The people should not have to work multiple jobs to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The health of the employees should not be ignored to save money on benefits. The beliefs and ideals capitalism was built upon should not be forgotten so that we can avoid guilt. When one CEO puts his profits before his people, he holds the public hostage. Profit should not come at the price of the soul. 

The solution to this problem is not a complicated one. We do not need government intervention; that’s one of the factors that got us here. We do not need to riot against our economic system either; that’s another factor that got us here. The solution is simple. We need to prioritize long-term goals, such as a healthy environment, fair labor practices, and a stable living wage, over short-term solutions, such as releasing some of our rights so that the government can momentarily make us feel safe. We need to support businesses with fair practices and call out those that are corrupt. If we delegate full economic responsibly to the government or the monopolies, then the free market cannot fix itself because it will no longer be free. If our values don’t change, the late stages of capitalism will become the final stages.

There are more profits to gain than just monetary ones. Inventors identify problems and then fix them. Businesses make their solutions available to the public. Charities use donations, often from businesses, to create a positive change. Is it not our hopes for the future that drives us to invest in them? It is not our passions for the world around us that inspire the greatest works? Is it not our compassion for others that allows us to feel more than greed? If money is the only motivation people have then we should not give up on capitalism, we should give up on society.

Capitalism is based largely upon supply and demand; it is time we demanded something better.