American Elephants


Words to Remember About Equality and Freedom by The Elephant's Child

capitalism

Here’s another of those things well said, that need to be remembered. It comes from William Voegeli’s book The Pity Party: A Mean-Spirited Diatribe Against Liberal Compassion.

Economist Dierdre McCloskey calculates that in “the countries that most enthusiastically embraced capitalism” some two hundred years ago, real, per capita economic growth has increased by 1 .5 percent annually. Owing to the miracle of compound interest, this increase has meant a 19-fold increase in living standards over the past two centuries, which, she contends, is a “change in the human condition” that “ranks with the first domestications of plants and animals and the building of the first towns” McCloskey argues that this enormous economic result had a cause that was cultural rather than economic. Humans did not suddenly become more acquisitive or creative. Rather, “when people  treat the marketers and inventors as having some dignity and liberty, innovation takes hold. The new respectability of bourgeois life, the belief that the creativity of capitalism’s creative destruction more than offset its destruction, was the decisive attitudinal change that rendered human life in the past two centuries decisively different from what it had been throughout the preceding millennia.”

And from the late Russia scholar Richard Pipes: Property and Freedom

The trend of modern times appears to indicate that citizens of democracies are willing heedlessly to surrender their freedoms to purchase social equality (along with economic security) apparently oblivious of the consequences. And the consequences are that their ability to hold onto and use what they earn and own, to hire and fire at will, to enter freely into contracts, and even to speak their mind is steadily being eroded by government  bent on redistributing private assets and subordinating individual rights to group rights.

One more from Milton Friedman:

A society that puts equality – in the sense of equality of outcome – ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality or freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests.


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