Ralph Benko and Bill Collier have written the free market antidote to The Communist Manifesto, titled The Capitalist Manifesto. They reveal some fascinating insights that you probably have never heard of. I always said that capitalism only works if tempered by Christianity. While I still believe that, and this book does not say anything to contradict that, it will give you a fresh new perspective on how capitalism by itself is a good thing.
Benko is an early Kemp-era Supply Sider and former Reagan White House official, who founded the Prosperity Caucus, is the co-founder and chairman of The Capitalist League, co-author of The Capitalist Manifesto, founder of The Prosperity Coalition and a weekly political columnist and sometime freelancer. Collier, as described by the iconic Arthur Laffer (one of the chief architects of world prosperity, awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Trump), is "an Internet and social media progeny" poised to play a big role in the future of the supply-side movement.
Their book destroys several myths about capitalism, and nails what is wrong with socialism and communism. First of all, it states that socialism, not capitalism, is the embodiment of cronyism. Socialism is cronyism on steroids. Those at the top receive special benefits, privileges and high incomes, while everyone else fights for a small remainder. Because there is little incentive to put in a healthy day’s work under socialism, there aren’t enough goods and services to go around. The country of Venezuela is a classic example of this. Its leaders live surrounded by vast wealth while the rest of the country stands in bread lines. Capitalism is a threat to the hegemony of their elites.
The authors make the interesting observation that socialism and communism are merely disguised and mechanized forms of feudalism. They ask, “What do cronyism, socialism, fascism, communism and even national socialism have in common? They are all variants of feudalism.” Feudalism rewards people based on their social status. Capitalism rewards people based on their contribution to the general welfare. Feudalists keep people under their control through fear and empty promises.
Perhaps the most interesting observation by the authors is that “Greed is not the foundation of capitalism.” The way it works is capitalism rewards people in proportion to their service to others. A businessman who provides jobs to people will prosper. It is the opposite of greed. Notably, consumerism isn't capitalism. Buying more and more goods simply because you want them is closer to greed, not capitalism.
The resurgence in the popularity of socialism currently is due to the abuses of capitalism, not capitalism itself. Big business today is often in cahoots with big government. And the true name for the mixture of big business with the State is fascism.
Crony capitalism is an oxymoron. If there is cronyism in capitalism, then it’s no longer capitalism. Capitalism is opposed to cronyism. Crony capitalism is a monster that uses the rhetoric of free markets to defend special privileges.
The authors say that calling someone discriminating is a compliment. Discrimination based on legitimate factors makes one discriminating, not discriminatory. Discriminatory means based on prejudice, an invidious quality.
They admit that some success under capitalism is due to luck; not every well-off person got where they’re at due to a Horatio Alger story. But this is still far better than the alternative. Feudalism doles out privileges as a function of elite status.
The authors point out that social insurance programs like Medicare and Social Security are not welfare or entitlements, they are social insurance. They are acceptable. Medicare for All, on the other hand, is welfare.
The German communists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were clever how they pushed people toward communism. In The Communist Manifesto, communism pitted the workers against the middle class, so they’d think the solution was treating everyone exactly the same. Marx popularized the term capitalism and used it as a pejorative. Marx and Engels promised a withering away of the state. But “perversely, their path to eliminating the state was to create a monstrous, overbearing, and monolithic state.”
Capitalism is not a zero-sum game. The workers can also make more money as the wealthy make more money. Wealth is not static. Whereas under feudalism, if one person makes more money, another will make less.
The authors make the interesting observation that people’s health, education, and welfare are becoming recognized as capital. Therefore, it is a function of capitalism for business to invest in these areas regarding their employees.
Finally, the authors note that religion, racism, tribalism, and fanaticism have proven less the cause of war and destruction than feudalism — most notably communism. Unlike other economic systems, capitalism is the only economic system which anyone honestly can point to and say, “it has made substantive progress toward its seemingly utopian aims.”