By definition, Capitalism is an economic system controlled chiefly by individuals and private companies instead of by the government. In this system, individuals and companies own and direct most of the resources used to produce goods and services, including land and other natural resources labor, and capital. Capital includes factories and equipment and sometimes the money used in businesses (Friedman, 5).
Capitalism stresses private economic decisions. People are free to decide how they will earn and spend their income. Companies may choose which goods and services to produce and how much to charge for them. They also compete with one another to sell products. Nations whose economies are based on capitalism include the United
States, Germany, Canada, and Japan.
Although a private individual or group of individuals may control their income and a large section of an economy, the government can control some aspects of the economy in every nation. Capitalism is some times called Free enterprise, despite its limits established by the government. Many organizations and businesses flourish from the existence of capitalism. Non-profit organizations prosper from capitalism such as: The Roman Catholic Church.
As one of the largest and most common religions in the world, the Roman Catholic faith is sustained through capitalism, for it is a capitalist organization. It can be considered a Capitalist organization in the fact that income is freely given in return for nothing. Ones religion can definitely influence their economic decisions, lifestyle and social status. The Roman Catholic Church believes that capitalism can become a type of injustice. For example, some people in capitalist nations can afford many luxuries. But at the same time, others lack adequate food, housing, and other needs. This unequal distribution of wealth results largely from capitalisms emphasis on individuality. The Catholic Church cites examples of inequality as incorrect. However, the church and other religious denominations thrive from others prosperity and income.
Capitalism is a definite social justice issue. One reason why people do not necessarily feel obligated to help others less fortunate than him or herself is because the economy focuses on individualism, which leads to greed and hoarding. Another reason why capitalism is a social justice issue is that it deprives certain people of their human rights as well as the dignity and respect that all humans deserve. As a result, we can ask ourselves, are we truly free?
On Independence Day we commemorate the birth of America as a free nation. But even more than that, we commemorate the birth of Americans as free men. At a single stroke, the Declaration of Independence and its ideas set America free from England, and set Americans free from their own government. The Founding Fathers instituted America’s government to protect the freedom of its citizens, and to secure their rights to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
These rights were created to secure freedom of thought and action for all Americans. Freedom of thought is the freedom of an individual to use his mind: to educate and inform himself; to make his own judgments; to reach his own conclusions; to set his decisions; to hold his beliefs; to choose the whole course of his life. Freedom of action is the freedom of an individual to act on his own judgment: to pursue his/her values; to strive for his/her goals; to work and to keep the product of his/her work; to associate and trade with others; to act for the attainment of his/her inner happiness.
The implementation of individual rights had revolutionary effects. The freedom and progress that followed were unprecedented. Individuals, free from government interference, pursued their happiness restlessly and produced tremendous amounts of wealth in the process. Individuals took responsibility for their lives: for their education, their health care, their jobs, their retirement, and their money. While individuals acted by right, government acted by permission. In 150 years America became the greatest nation on Earth (Kronen, 72).
Before the turn of the century, however, while America still prospered from its founding ideals, a set of opposite ideals surged and gradually took over the old ones. In 1863, the institution of the military draft set the principle that individuals did no longer have a right to their own lives: the state did. From that day on every American no longer owned his life, but held it by permission.
In 1913, the federal income tax was created and set the principle that individuals did not have a right to their productive effort–their earnings. Government’s role reversed from protector to usurper of our rights. From that day on every American no longer owned his income, but held it by permission (Pasley, 10,11)
Along with people’s money, government took responsibility for their lives. Government assumed the task of providing the people with education, health care, housing, employment, and much more. The greater the share of people’s lives the government undertook to provide for, the more it taxed the people. To appease the masses, the richest were taxed the hardest. But all paid the price in the loss of our rights. Government became a devouring beast, and most of the American people approved of it.
Regrettably, individual rights have been eroded to a point where we already lost much of the freedom they once secured us. The American people, once independent and free from government control, are now subject to all kinds of taxation and regulation.
Today in our society, we need government’s permission to drive, to work, to open and to run a business, and even to own and hold property. The government is no longer our servant; it became our master. The government, once established to ban the use of force among men, now is the greatest aggressor of all. In the name of helping the needy, it assaults the productive and strips them of their rights and property. But if productive Americans have no rights then no American has them either. America, born as a free country, has been transfigured into a welfare state, where the needs of some became a blank check on the fortunes of others (Tate, 44,45).
But we are still in time to regain our rights if only we understand better their meaning, their value and their power. If Americans are to be the free again, and America is to remain the greatest nation on Earth, we must hold sacred our individual rights to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
America was founded on the noblest of ideals: the right of every individual to his life. America will only live as long as its ideals live in our hearts and in our minds (kronen, 102).