What About the Poor?

A common question, when discussing capitalism, is: What about the poor? In other words, won’t the poor be helpless and hopeless in a capitalist society?

The premise underlying such questions is altruism. According to altruism, we have a moral duty to serve others. According to altruism, we have an obligation to help those in need. But why? Why are we born with an unchosen obligation? Why must we live our lives, not for our enjoyment and benefit, but to serve the destitute and downtrodden? No rational answer has ever been offered, because there is no rational justification for slavery.

Your life is yours to live as you choose, so long as you respect the mutual rights of others. Your only obligations are those you enter of your own choice, such as contracts and having children.

In a capitalist society, if you choose to help the poor and needy, nobody can stop you. But neither can anyone force you to do so.

Americans are extremely generous and benevolent people. Consider the donations to assist victims after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, after Hurricane Katrina, and after the earthquake in Haiti. Consider the hundreds of billions that Americans donate every year to charities.

Wealth cannot be donated until it is produced. Without freedom, wealth cannot be produced. In truth, freedom is the greatest “gift” that we can give the poor. But freedom is not a gift, nor is it ours to dispense. It is everyone’s moral right, including yours.

  • mkkevitt

    Plus, under pure, laissez-faire, there’d be lots more wealth available for charity, but probably less need for it because the poor and downtrodden could do lots of little, and bigger, things to help themselves that aren’t possible under today’s mixed economy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003536437342 Marie La Veau

    I assume that Christianity has no place in a truly capitalist society?

  • mkkevitt

    Christianity & any other religion has the same place in a truly capitalist society that anything else, such as mining, manufacturing, services, auto racing, stamp collecting, etc., has. If you want it, do it, share it, trade or whatever. Just don’t force it, not on your own or by trying to sneak it thru gvt., which would be a method of force. This goes for religion and for any other activity, incl. health care. As for law & gvt. itself, religion and any other activity or individual has one & only one place, or right: physical self-defense, conditionally delegated to gvt. by the individual thru law. Any individual and activity, by right, has input into maintenance, development and enforcement of physical self-defense. That’s it. Mike Kevitt

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005305175597 Richard A Brown

    As theologically Reformed devoted Anglican in the US, Capitalism gives the liberty to go about our daily vocation to trade and create wealth, in turn we donate this wealth to fund churches, missions and charities. As pointed out in a Capitalist system I can not initiate force against my neighbor nor the neighbor cannot initiate and act of force on me. It becomes a way to protect my religious liberty. Much persecution of Christians is in the form of economic persecution. preventing the Christian from trade.
    It is not lost on me the more socialist a state become the less religious the state become ; fore example democratic socialist countries in Europe are the most secular.

  • Anonymous

    To answer this question, “But why? Why are we born with an unchosen obligation? Why must we live
    our lives, not for our enjoyment and benefit, but to serve the destitute
    and downtrodden?”. It is perhaps because some people are born with “unchosen” disabilities or shortcomings that an egalitarian framework is needed to compensate for such a reality (or should have more value that you care to afford it).
    Also, why say the “enjoyment and benefit” one can have in life is directly at odds with practicing or valuing principles of altruism? With some research I bet you can find that the leveling off of inequalities can actually _add_ to the enjoyment and benefit of life individuals and communities (a la Wilkinson and Pickett, 2009). [Something to ponder]

  • mkkevitt

    Under capitalism, you & your neighbor may not initiate force upon each other. That becomes a way (THE way) to protect your individual rights, all of them, among which is your religious liberty. Democratic socialism economically persecutes everybody, not just Christians. It might economically persecute different people or groups in different ways. Under capitalism, any individual can be religious or secular, by his own choice, & the overwhelming majority of the populace can by religious or secular, or the percentages of them can be anywhere in between, & nobody is persecuted for anything, at least, not by law & gvt. Mike Kevitt

  • mkkevitt

    The answer to both paragraphs, above, is, not by force, which, here, would automatically be initiatory. That wouldn’t, and couldn’t, be done by law & gvt., which is capitalism, the non-initiation of force, BECAUSE it’s law & gvt., meaning, conversely, responsive (retaliatory) force, by law, against initiation. Imposing unchosen obligations, or values one doesn’t care to afford, in order to level off inequalities is initiatory force, meaning, CRIME, on a par with armed robbery. If done by an ‘egalitarian framework’, it’s a worse crime, done with physical power meant for law & gvt., under cover of the guise of authority of law & gvt., by & enforcing criminal intent. If that intent is legislated, that’s immaterial. It was legislated under similar cover. It’s still crime, not law & gvt.

    Under capitalism, there’d be plenty of charity readily available for the unfortunate. The ‘only’ difference is it would be available by the free choice of those who can provide it and choose to. Nobody could stop them any more than they could force them. Mike Kevitt

  • Blergh

    Oh, my, god. You don’t, need, so many, commas, seriously.

  • mkkevitt

    Alright. I edited my above comment. Try it out and see how it works, now. Mike Kevitt