Is Capitalism Moral?

Capitalism is an economic system. It is not “good” or “bad”. It just happens to produce a far superior outcome than socialism or communism, i.e., vastly more opportunity and better lives for the most people.

Capitalism is dispersed – think of 20 separate companies operating in a city. And thus corruption in one company does not necessarily affect another. On the other hand socialism represents government control and so socialist corruption affects everyone living under that government.

Here is an interesting story from Fox News about the rock musician Bono (his real name is Paul David Hewson):

Outspoken social activist, and U2 frontman, Bono had some unusually kind words for capitalism while speaking to global business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

According to The Irish Times, the singer was speaking at a panel to fill a multitrillion-dollar financing gap to help the U.N. achieve its goal to end global poverty by 2030 and advocate for the fight against extreme poverty in Africa and Aids. While there, he discussed the benefits of capitalism but cautioned that it cannot be left to its own devices.

“Capitalism is not immoral – it’s amoral. It requires our instruction,” he told the crowd. “Capitalism has taken more people out of poverty than any other ‘ism.’ But it is a wild beast that, if not tamed, can chew up a lot of people along the way.”

That’s a pretty good analysis from Bono, whom you would expect to be a socialist showboater. In other words he knows that capitalism can produce great good but if it goes wrong it can hurt huge numbers of people. And we see it going wrong today at Google and Facebook, two tremendously wealthy companies that are using their economic power to censor our free speech.

Bono has a reason for his kindness toward capitalism. Slate.com reported in 2006:

… U2’s Bono, a committed and unusually sophisticated anti-poverty crusader … is taking surprisingly little heat for the decision by his band, U2, to relocate its music-publishing business from Ireland to the Netherlands in order to shelter its songwriting royalties from taxation.

So there you go. Bono can’t very well go around criticizing capitalism when he engaged in wise capital conservation by moving his business. He understands the issue. Fox News continued:

Bono, who has an estimated net worth of about $700 million, is most known for his music work with U2, he’s made himself into a prominent activist over the years, even co-founding One, a global campaign and advocacy organization with more than 10 million members fighting to wipe out global cases of extreme poverty.

And thus Bono really understands that if we are going to fight poverty that the first step is to support capitalism and allow the people of each nation to build their own lives individually rather than expecting the government to do it for them (which it can’t).

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