by Neville Kennard, veteran preaching and practising capitalist
Is it “Democracy” that has been the underlying reason that people in many parts of the world have experienced growing prosperity, health, longer life and more choices in their lives?
Or is it something else ? Could it be capitalism that has brought about this evolution and improved well-being, and that “Democracy”, with all its implied and perceived benefits, has had less to do with prosperity than capitalism?
It is, I would suggest, capitalism. The essential components of capitalism is property rights — the right to retain most of what you earn and to put it where it will be secure — from State plunder, from excessive taxation, from misappropriation by corrupt governments.
There are places in the world that enjoy a very good degree of capitalism with little, if any democracy. Hong Kong comes to mind — a unique place with strong capitalist underpinnings but no democracy. Hong Kong grows and prospers without much democracy. Singapore too has strong capitalist underpinnings and a rather authoritarian democracy and it and its citizens and residents continues to prosper in a safe and clean city-state. People and capital migrate to such havens of capital and talent.
But capitalism does not get very good press. Hollywood portrays the Gordon Gekko image of “Greedy Capitalists who prey on the unwary and the gullible” and makes them out to be corrupt villains. And so “Democracy” gets good press, while its silent partner, capitalism, bears the brunt of things that go wrong financially and economically. And in a “Democracy” it is easy for the electorate to call on the government to sort out the Bad Guys (Governments like and need some Bad Guys) and regulate the greedy capitalists. And then of course those who appear to be part of the problems — the bankers and conspicuously greedy capitalists — side with the government to regulate. in the National Interest, of course. Thus the regulation tends to entrench crony capitalism.
“Capitalism does not survive in a Democracy”; is this true? Does the very idea of popularly-elected governments who have freedom to extract ever-higher and more complex taxes, to impose a plethora of anti-productive regulations and to threaten property-rights with restrictions to full and free ownership actually threaten capitalism and the very prosperity expected of a democracy?
Are “democracy” and capitalism incompatible?
“Democracy” has become almost a religion with its worshippers singing its praises and urging its adoption by those places that don’t have it. There are even wars to “make the world safe for democracy”. Little do these democracy-advocates think about property rights, self-ownership, the right to earn and keep what’s yours, to trade, to have in effect capitalism as part of their “democracy”-package. Mostly these democracy-advocates envisage a sort of “social democracy” of welfare and regulation and taxes and a strong government to enforce the constraints and limit the freedoms required in their “social democracy”.
America was conceived as a Republic, a confederation of sovereign states, and not as a “Democracy”. Capitalism underpinned America for a long time, and it prospered with the idea of self-ownership taken as a given and part of the American way. But democracy and the erosion of self-ownership has whittled away at the idea of personal sovereignty as people found they could vote in political candidates who would make promises of benefits and “free” stuff, seemingly at no cost. And so taxes and government-spending and regulation proliferated until capitalism was barely there any more.
Alexis de Tocqueville, the French aristocrat and author in his well-known book Democracy in America in 1840 wrote glowingly of the American society, of its spontaneous order and voluntary institutions, and warned too of the risks of the people learning how to use democracy to extract benefits for themselves. This, it seems, is the normal outcome and for the democracies as the people, supported by politicians, learn how to plunder the commons and erode the foundations of their own prosperity and freedom.
Capitalism, it seems, does not survive in a “Democracy”. The exception may be the Swiss with their conservatism and their robust constitutional limitations and “participative democracy” which limit government propensity to plunder its own people.
- Welcome from Neville Kennard
- Think Tanks Don't Work
- "Market Failure": Just what the government ordered!
- The Tragedy of the Tax Pool Commons
- Corporate Welfare
- Citizenship for Sale?
- I Don't Vote
- Voting: Right or Privilege?
- Stockholm Syndrome and our Love-Hate Relationship with Government
- Civil Disobedience: The Rules of Engagement
- Should Respect for Law Extend to Bad Laws?
- Jaywalking as a Demonstration of Individuality
- Government Likes War
- Collusion is Our Right
- Why Not the Drug Olympics?
- Unconventional Wisdom
- Tiger Farming: An Alternative to Extinction
- Looking Backwards: Mont Pelerin Society Conference, Sydney, 2010
- Tax Avoidance is a Patriotic Duty
- Kennard Writes to IPA Review Editor
- Genocide by Welfare: A Tragedy from the Aboriginal Welfare Industry
- Separating Sport and State
- Your Home is Not an Investment
- Dick Smith, Celebrity Philanthropist
- A Libertarian's New Year's Resolution
- Extend Politicians' Holidays to Create Prosperity
- Entrepreneurs are Disruptive, and Bureaucrats Hate It
- What is a good Australian?
- Governments Like Employment But Hate Employers
- The Market Failure Industry
- Neville Kennard: The Tax Avoidance Imperative
- Wot if ...?
- The Tribal Chief and the Witch Doctor
- The Tannehills
- Democracy versus Property Rights and Prosperity
- Government Doesn't Work, and That's the Way They Like It
- Minarchy vs Anarchy
- Euthanasia and Self-Ownership
- The Right Policies to Fix a Depression
- Is Howard Our Best PM?
- Tax Producers vs Tax Consumers
- Where There's a Queue, There's a Business Opportunity
- Authoritarian Freedom
- Why Classical Liberals Should Debate Anarchocapitalists
- The Tyranny of the Majority
- If you could choose to whom you paid your tax
- Business Should Exploit Boat People
- The Immorality of Trade Unions
- "America" vs "The United States"
- Sweet Anarchy
- The Illusion of "Job Creation"
- Gold Is Money
- Guilty Capitalists
- Prosperity vs Growth
- Capitalism vs Democracy
- More people = More fun
- Self-Ownership - the very idea!
- Government will murder Neville Kennard if he doesn't back away
- The Australian Dollar Has Been Cowardly and Criminally Devalued, Harming the Poor Particularly
- Is Taxation Theft and Government a Tax Cheat?
- My Journey to Anarchy:
From political and economic agnostic to anarchocapitalist
- Government Needs Bad Guys –
that's why they like wars
- What Is Obscene?
- Traffic Economics
- Wayne Swan stands on the shoulders of other intellectual pygmies
- Neville Kennard Obituary