What is Capitalism?

Adam Smith believed that the wealth accumulated by a nation was determined its own productivity.  Furthermore, Smith believed that people would be motivated to create this wealth, and subsequently enjoy it as well.  This is fundamental basis for the idea and practice known as capitalism.  Some believe that capitalism works best with the least amount of government interference possible.  Others believe that capitalism, left alone, creates greed.  Where do you stand on the idea of capitalism?  Does it work best without government interaction?  Is greed a result of capitalism? Is there a middle ground between government interaction with capitalism and laissez-faire capitalism? Below is clip from The Phil Donahue Show (1979) where Donahue’s guest is the late University of Chicago Economics Professor Milton Friedman.  Friedman’s response to Donahue may help you with your response.

6 responses to “What is Capitalism?

  1. I would say that sadly it is true we live in a greedy society to where everybody looks out for themselves. But this isn’t that sad because when you think about it, if I am looking out for myself and coming up with my own revolutionary ideas, i am bettering the world by bettering myself. As the quote in the D builiding says, ” Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world…… In fact, it is the only thing that ever has” – Margaret Mead

  2. I remember seeing good old Milton Friedman in the 99% documentary directed by Jamie Johnson. So when there is any mention of other forms of economic systems he avoids the possible idea. Literally, whines himself out of the interview. Even though in the Donahue video Milton brings good questions like the political clout question. I think it’s to avoid the discussion of socialism or other forms.
    Now, back to the question I do think capitalism brings greed and exploits people, land, environment, and governments to that greed. How much means does a person really need? What about the laborers doing the work and the cat sitting back get fat? I might be ranting but this is how I think of capitalism.

  3. Milton Friedman claimed that capitalism is the only way to go. That no other system “yet discovered” can do better. Well, unfortunately, I would have to agree with this latter assertion. Friedman’s former point, however, is completely false. There is always something better, that can be discovered, or invented by human cooperation and reason. Friedman’s response reflects a view common among todays elites that our system is not the best, but it is the only way. Thats is false, I believe people need to realize that the capitalist system we live in was good for a while, but that we can and should do better. Society needs to design a system that takes full advantage of the economic productivity and wealth created by capitalism. This new system needs to better spread wealth, so everyone – or almost everyone – can have a decent standard of living. There was a time when people said Feudalism is the only way to organize society, but eventually capitalism came along. That system has now out lived its time. What comes next, is up to us.

  4. I do agree with Milton Friedman that greed is inevitable in order to make a productive society. Capitalism is a result of greed, whether that greed is materials or not. Greed is why american jobs go overseas, so those corporations do not have to pay as much. Greed results in a productive society and the end of a society.

  5. I believe capitalism is the best possible economic system because it is reflective of the people, whereas other economic systems place force or restriction to some extent on its people. What I think people don’t realize when they see the examples of greed in our society is that this isn’t caused by capitalism; it is simply reflective of what the people are like. We should be outraged with the people, not the system, especially when the system is the only one that rewards incentiveness and creativity while, most importantly, allowing people to reap the rewards of their own labor.

  6. I believe that Capitalism is a good economic system to further society and progress forward with a visionary mindset. In any industry or just in life in general, Capitalism is it the cause of greed. Here or there, of course it’s all depending who you ask and how they look at the situation. Capitalism is a spitting image of the individual that decides to use the vechicle of Capitalism. The system is not the issue it is the people of the system of Capitalism, and how they go about utilzing the opportunites and manipulation within the system of Capitalism. Everyone should be able to eat and be rewarded for their own hard work, and ground breaking ideas that they have come up with. Without Capitalism Apple, Microsoft, Google’s innovation wouldn’t of be rewarded accordingly without Capitalism. (Jerry Rodgers- PSC 110 T-TH 12:30-1:40PM Class).

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