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.

17 responses to “What is Capitalism?

  1. Charlene-Grace Crisostomo

    I think there should be a middle ground between government interaction with capitalism and laissez-faire capitalism. I believe that capitalism was created in the first place is to protect property rights of individuals. From the term itself, laissez-faire means “let it be.” So if there would be a great interference from the government, what would happen to the rights of the private businesses?

  2. Capitalist rest between both government involvement and little involvement. Greed is something that will pop up anywhere and anytime. So to be worried about that would be like worrying about the next doom days prediction. No, I think little government involvement is best. Even though greed will be a product from it, it also lets be stride for something higher with few interruptions from the government.

  3. Greed is a result of success, however if you are keeping the concern and interest of others involved in your decisions, is it really still greed? It’s hard to say, in my opinion, how much government should be involved in capitalism because people typically think negatively of the government anyway. I think there should be a middle ground because there needs to be respect on both parts. Capitalists and government officials both need to understand they have boundaries just as much as they have control.

  4. I would have to say i agree with the other comments here any kind of middle ground would be nice because people these days say the government is greedy as it is. They keep uping taxes and spending more than the budget calls for which in long run hurts not them but the people they take the money from. Less government involvment in things im sure would be appreciated by the vast majority but it cant be so much that the public itself turns greedy. I beleive greed can run on both sides here.

  5. Well said, Milton Friedman! I believe capitalism should not be regulated because the government itself is a greedy group of individuals. As Friedman said himself, you cannot trust anybody and nobody is an angel. I am a huge opponent of socialism. I feel that the lazy, unemployed people are the ones being helped by the government and the hard working people are being punished. For example, it kills me to see people going on welfare. i have seen very few instances where the family was in desperate need and they were just having a rough patch (lost a job, death in the family etc.) but for the most part, I see people who are not willing to go back to school or get a job receiving public aid. How is that fair? The taxes being taken from hard working people to go to individuals that don’t deserve it. That’s socialism. I agree with full force capitalism and forcing people to work hard to make a living. I can give an example of this on a smaller scale. At my job in Orland Square Mall, we get our hours based on how many sales we make, not to be confused with commission. To me, that is only fair. Everyone is capable of selling and working smart. Why should every girl at my job receive the same hours? One should have to work for those hours. It is the same way on a bigger scale. Success is possible and it would be absurd for someone to say otherwise.

  6. Matt Kaczorowski

    The comments here have already said it best. I believe that government interference is totally necessary but we do not need smothering. I don’t trust the government to totally control or have a say in everything, but I don’t trust people to run things themselves because as it was mentioned, we are human and be greedy among other things.This is also what I believe in many social programs as well. The programs themselves are great, its just that nobody actually enforces them. We need government to step in and enforce things but not to totally run them.

  7. I agree with every ones comments the government is greedy. They need to stop raising taxes and making peoples lives harder. They ask for more money and spend it on things that we could live without. If this keeps up in the long run they aren’t the ones who are going to be hurt, its going to be us.

  8. Government is not a business in the same way Microsoft is a business. Everyone has a stake in it’s stability. Once you shrink it or destroy it you literally demolish the investments of people who currently compose that society. Businesses owned by private individuals who have massive resources, (not enough to run a gov’t mind you) could care less about this. Strengthening gov’t ethics and principles in making clear that business are not people is the way to go. Shrinking government does nothing. If everyone look at the list of countries by external debt you will see that most all of the top nations are nations that in terms of economic, political, and military influence are..at the top. Debt is a byproduct of business transactions. The reason why these debts are so high in the first place is because of horrendous mismanagement of funds, toxic business practices, and ceaseless warfare. It isn’t the size of the govt that matters. What matters is the efficiency of that government.

  9. James Savaiano

    I do agree that the government is agreedy which is why I feel that they shouldn’t take full control of the situation either. Perhaps the government being involved somewhat can help but not full considering the government along with the capitalist being both greedy and secretive. I believe that the capitalist if left alone will continue to be more and more greedy knowing that their in control within anyone else interfering.

  10. I believe that laissez- faire capitalism is the system to go with. I think that without government intervention more people would try to build a business. This would provide more incentive for innovation in many fields. I know this would cause greed but that is ones own moral dilemma, and I think those who work hard deserve to be greedy. I think if the government was not to tax businesses or paychecks, more people would work and would not be able to live off others. In prison, due to the regulations in place, there are many there for tax evasion, drug dealing, and so forth. These people live off the taxes that they failed to pay and have to live off others. It is a vicious circle. The middle ground is the free- enterprise system which is in place in the United States. I think laissez- faire has its flaws but all together I think it is the right system.

  11. Patricia Vargas

    The government is greedy. This is why I do not think that the government should have that much of control over the country. It is important that someone be there but not how it really is.On the other hand, citizens will become greedy either way. I think that greedy is a natural way to act so no matter what we do greed is going to be around. Middle ground is a good balance so I think it will help our country a lot.

  12. Capitalism does not create greed. Greed does not create capitalism. The “titans” of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s created jobs, moved technology forward for the nation. These people such as J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, John D Rockefeller created jobs with a livable wage and a product for the people. If there is a business that a person does not agree with , that person can vote with their dollar bill if that wish to keep that business in business or not.

  13. Capitalism is not perfect. Rarely anything is in our world especially when it’s man-made. The government should have some sort of interaction with capitalism. I agree that we may get greedier without government involvement but I don’t believe it’s the absence of government that is causing that. This is sad and unfortunate but we, as humans, are indeed greedy and it doesn’t even have to be money as the object of greed. Greed will always be there with or without government involvement. The government however shouldn’t be involved to much, that would just interfere with the rights of the people and private businesses. The government should always be there for help if needed.

  14. I do agree that the government is greedy. However, I’m not against government involvement. I’d rather have them control and level out the amount of wealth our nation has, rather then raising taxes for unreasonable purposes.

  15. I think in some areas government is needed in our society. Then on the other hand sometimes having the government involved just complicates things. So, i am more so in between on this issue.

  16. Mark Mou Hong

    I think capitalism pays off how much effort people put into to it. Capitalism let the people keep their fortunes instead of working for government. All types of business is welcome as long the person pays taxes.

  17. Michaela Sheeran

    I obviously agree with everyone else opinions. I agree there should be a middle ground. The government is very greedy. The taxes are insane the the economic state we are in is just a disgrace. I remember even noticing change with the economy back in 2007. And that’s bad if I noticed it !! I think capitalism was created to protect certain people and certain laws.

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