The free-market society is often criticized or condemned from the root to the fruit for its alleged dependence on the unsavory human trait of greed. Socialists have always claimed that their system would replace one dependent on greed with one based on compassion and caring for the unfortunate.
Sounds good. We’re still waiting. Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Both theory and history have shown that socialism cannot produce the wealth that makes compassion and caring possible. Christianity aside, generosity flows from surplus.
The idea that the free-market system rests on greed has always been mistaken, perhaps a lie made up by a socialist propagandist who was pissed off that his own family wouldn’t keep him in comfort despite his refusal to work at remunerative employment, then was pissed off that his wife’s family stopped supporting his profligate lifestyle, and finally ended up living off the redistribution of Engels’s capitalistic salary. Yes, I’m talking about Marx. Well, at least Engels was a willing party to the theft of his income. You can’t say the same for tax-payers, who essentially hand over their income at the point of a gun to their heads.
Capitalism rests on allowing people to pursue their self-interest. I know … scandalous. How selfish sounding!
Self-interest is quite different from greed and often consists of the very opposite. People in general are interested in earning more income. One major reason for this desire is that they wish to have the ability to give to or take care of others more effectively. Generally, this desire is aimed first at their own families, but most generous people don’t give to their own families exclusively.
The amounts of money, time, and effort that people devote to making others happier or better off belie the slander of a free market’s dependence on greed. We see it especially at the Christmas season, but such transfers also occur throughout the year, amounting to an enormous proportion of how people in free-market societies use their wealth.
We have a lot of Chinese at our church and I enjoy interacting and learning about their society. They tell me that the alleged compassion and caring for the unfortunate that many have supposed support socialism is almost unheard of in China. Those who refuse to work there are thrown into prison where they are put to back-breaking labor. If they survive that, they usually are much harder workers when let back out into society.
According to my friend, Mila Andrepova, the Soviet Union showed a similar pattern of stern discipline to those who wouldn’t (or couldn’t) work.
The incentives inherent in socialism require that the socialist society become or remain lodged in poverty, thereby crippling its capacity for effective compassion and caring in the material realm. Socialism does not so much eliminate the greed that exists in a population as it alters the forms in which the greed can be directed and expressed.
Leaders of socialist societies have a habit of living lavishly amid the squalor of the system they control and despoil—Mao, Castro, and Chavez provide ready examples. Ordinary people in socialist societies, deprived of free-market outlets for the pursuit of their self-interest, must strive to better themselves and those for whom they care by struggling for political power, often diverting resources intended for the general public to their own enjoyment. Socialism does not build the generous character that socialist dreamers have touted.
Chinese communists were/are much more greedy for power and the lifestyle that comes with it than American capitalists because their only alternative was/is abject poverty. Li’li Wang Babcock, raised in Communist China during the Cultural Revolution, immigrated to US two years after Tianamen Square
Capitalism may teach that greed is good, but by creating more wealth and allowing members of society to direct that wealth themselves, it leads to more compassion and generosity than does socialism. Forbes noted this correlation back in 2008 when the US was being beat up over government contributions to Haiti.