In Defense of Capitalism


Progressives attack capitalism because it lets some become very rich while others stay poor.

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez call such a system “immoral.”

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But Yaron Brook, chairman of the Ayn Rand Institute says the opposite is true.

He points out that the poor were much poorer before capitalism: “We have basically made about $2 a day for 100,000 years. In other words … we could eat what we farmed and that was it,” Brook tells Stossel.
“And then something amazing happened about 250 years ago.”

Around that time, a few countries tried capitalism. For the first time, people were allowed to profit from private property. That changed everything.

Brook explains: “250 years ago we suddenly discovered the value of individual freedom. We suddenly discovered the value of leaving individuals free to think, to innovate, to produce without asking for permission, without getting the state to sign off on it and we call that the industrial revolution. We got much, much, much richer and it’s hard to imagine how much richer we got … electricity, running water, the things we all take for granted today, but we didn’t have 150 years ago … and yes, some people complain about inequality, but everybody got richer. Even the poor got richer.”

He adds: “We have more than doubled our life expectancy. We have dramatically increased the quality of our life and we are wealthier than anybody could have imagined.”

Stossel interjects: “Made possible by private property and capitalism — which people hate.”

“Every priest, every philosopher, every mother, has taught us that to be selfless is good,” replies Brook. “Doing for others is fine – but only if that’s what you want.

Brook, who bases his philosophy on the ideas of author Ayn Rand, adds: “doing for others is fine – but only if that’s what you want.

Stossel pushes back: “Lots of us see morality as helping other people.”

“Ayn Rand was never against charity,” Brooks says. “What she said was that was not the major virtue in life and that you should voluntarily have a choice about who you help and who you don’t.”

He adds: “The key is that somebody else’s need is not a moral claim against your life. Your life is yours.”