by:taleigha brown

what is it?

Capitalism is an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.


Pros of Capitalism

  • Economic freedom helps political freedom. If governments own the means of production and set prices, it invariably leads to a powerful state and creates a large bureaucracy which may extend into other areas of life.
  • Efficiency. Firms in a capitalist based society face incentives to be efficient and produce goods which are in demand. These incentives create the pressures to cut costs and avoid waste. State owned firms often tend to be more inefficient (e.g. less willing to get rid of surplus workers and less incentives to try new innovative working practices.)
  • Economic growth. With firms and individuals facing incentives to be innovative and work hard this creates a climate of innovation and economic expansion. This helps to increase real GDP and lead to improved living standards. This increased wealth, enables a higher standard of living; in theory, everyone can benefit from this increased wealth, and there is a ‘trickle down effect’ from rich to poor.
  • There are no better alternatives. As Winston Churchill, ‘“It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.’ A similar statement could apply to capitalism.

Weaknesses of capitalism

  • Inequality creates social division. Societies which are highly unequal create resentment and social division.

  • Social Benefit Ignored. A free market will ignore externalities. A profit maximizing capitalist firm is likely to ignore negative externalities, such as pollution from production. This can harm living standards. Similarly, a free market economy will under-provide goods with positive externalities, such as health, public transport and education. This leads to an inefficient allocation of resources. Even supporters of capitalism will admit that government provision of certain public goods and public services is essential to maximize the potential of a capitalist society.
  • Monopoly Power. Private ownership of capital enables firms to gain monopoly power in product and labor markets. Firms with monopoly power can exploit their position to charge higher prices.
  • Monopsony Power. Firms with monopsony power can pay lower wages to workers. In capitalist societies, there is often great inequality between the owners of capital and those who work for firms.

Capitalism Quality Without Compromise