There are sick, poor and dying people all over the world who have to search for enough food to barely survive on while we are comfortable in our air conditioned homes and overstocked supermarkets. I am a proud Capitalist pig.
I’ve listened to many people condemn and vilify our nation, calling us greedy, self-interested, wasteful, apathetic consumers. And in some respects they’re right. It’s difficult to grow up in a relatively wealthy society and not take anything for granted. There are plenty of people who are greedy, wasteful and apathetic – and they come from all income levels. But Americans are also givers.
A very informative article put out by The American Enterprise Institute says that Americans gave $295 billion to charity in 2006. This, even after Uncle Sam takes his share. When put in context, in 2005, Americans gave per capita 4 times more than the French, 7 times more than Germans, and 14 times more than Italians. We also volunteer more, even when the same exact socioeconomic conditions are compared.
And what of rich people? Those greedy, white-collar rich people. Don’t they hoard the money to themselves and make everyone else work for pennies to fill the pockets of their silk-lined suits? Yeah, probably some of them. But when American charitable contributions as a percentage of income are compared, the wealthy give, on average, about 3%, middle incomes 2.5 % and low incomes 4.5 %. Of course, that translates in to massive numbers for wealthy contributors. Might I add that self-described “conservatives” are 30% more likely to give than “liberals” – a contradiction of popular public stereotypes.
Ok, so we give a lot of money to our churches and favorite charities, but what about starving people in foreign nations? As it turns out, America is the number 1 giver of foreign aid in the world. We give more than twice that of the U.K., where the taxes are so high due to government programs that most people consider their giving already done for them. I, for one, believe that the element of choice is an essential part of the giving equation, and therefore taxes do nothing more than remove my personal involvement in that to which I give, and replace it with bureaucracy.
The fact that Americans in general show great concern for the well-being of those in need, including third-world nations, is an encouraging marker that our moral compass is still pointed in the right direction.
While some Criticize capitalism, saying that it is impersonal and fueled by greed, I have to respond with a reminder of its benefits. Not only is Capitalism the only economic system that protects the liberty of individuals to buy and trade; not only does Capitalism allow sellers and consumers to set the fair-value of a product instead of government; and not only does Capitalism encourage innovation and distribution; but it is Capitalism that is responsible for the upswing in general peace, prosperity and quality of life in the entire world as its influence has grown. While the U.S.S.R. was crushed under the poverty that Socialism channels, do you think they were able to contribute to anything other than keeping themselves afloat? Could America be sending out billions of dollars, thousands of doctors, teachers and missionaries, or medical supplies, treatments and medicines to nations all over the world if we did not have the economic prosperity and technological liberty that we have in the States? Not at all. It would be a very different world had America never existed.
Yes. I’m proud to be a Capitalist. Not because I’m greedy, but because it’s the only way to both protect and serve all people, in all societies. But it doesn’t come without its price and without its pitfalls. It’s looking at the bigger picture that allows you to see that it is worth fighting for. Capitalism will protect us as long as we protect it.