Virtual Voices

Markets vs. government: The case of discrimination

Economy

For more than a hundred years, various socialist movements have been recruiting support among marginalized segments of the population. The secret of their success lies in spreading lies about the system of "competitive capitalism," also known as "the free market" or "private enterprise." "Progressive" activists work hard to create artificial consciousness among minority groups. The latter are brainwashed to believe that they belong to an oppressed "class," that their interests stand opposed to those of the rich, that the degree to which capitalists succeed, the workers fail to achieve their economic goals.

Leftists see the capitalist state as a device that reinforces the market exploitation of the minorities. The solution is to stir all oppressed proletarians to either rise and overthrow capitalism by force or reform the system from the inside through lobbyism and the democratic electoral process. The fatal conceit is that political means could be used to secure the rights and improve the standard of living of the disadvantaged minorities by limiting essential economic freedoms for all.

But is it really true that unbridled market forces are the major source of abuse of human rights and that the only feasible solution is political? Does "democratic socialism" have the institutional potential to outperform free enterprise, if not in growth of output, at least in securing human dignity? In his classic work, Capitalism and Freedom, Milton Friedman revealed the absurdity of claims that markets are responsible for oppression and discrimination. Minorities have a much bigger stake at preserving and expanding economic freedom than the majority. The following two examples speak for themselves.

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In the years before World War II, Winston Churchill, a respected Member of Parliament, was not given access to the British radio because he was advocating a "controversial" policy against Adolf Hitler. All decisions in the media were, of course, "coordinated" with the government's own British Broadcasting Corporation.

In sharp contrast stands the American experience with McCarthyism. Some government employees invoked the Fifth Amendment when accused of supporting communism. But the protection of the Constitution, wrote Friedman, "would have been a hollow mockery without an alternative to government employment. Their fundamental protection was the existence of a private market economy in which they could earn a living."

Alex Tokarev
Alex Tokarev

Alex is the chair of the Department of Business at Morthland College in West Frankfort, Ill., and teaches at Northwood University in Midland, Mich. The native of communist Bulgaria fanatically supports the Bulgarian soccer team, Levski.

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