Since 2018, attacks on free enterprise and the promotion of socialist economic ideas have been more prevalent in our country than at any time since the turn of the 19th century.
While the faces are fresh like those of “The Squad” and the presentation is tech savvy through the use of social media, the ideas are as old as Marx, Rousseau or even Plato. Collective control over economic activity always includes the following themes:
• Private property is bad and corrupts otherwise decent people.
• The means of production cannot be controlled by greedy private individuals.
• Private production of wealth is to the detriment of the many for the enrichment of the few.
To simplify the three points made above down into one, the basic premise is that humans are greedy and will deliberately exploit and harm other people unless they are watched over and controlled by people who happen to work for the government. Apparently, once someone takes a job in government, magic dust is sprinkled over them as they walk in the door their first day and suddenly become morally superior and objectively wiser than those in the private sector.
Enter Oakland County, Michigan, entrepreneur Bill Pulte. Bill is a self-made millionaire who has a passion for helping others. He has taken that passion into the often-poisonous world of social media and is using Twitter to promote various initiatives to give away money for different worthy causes. A few weeks ago, he started #TwitterPhilanthropy through his @pulte handle. He has pledged to give away $100,000 by the end of the year to businesses or individuals in need.
His Twitter feed, which reads like a streamlined, results-driven, GoFundMe site, is helping hospitalized children, veterans, startup businesses and everything in between. All someone has to do is produce a simple video demonstrating their need for money and they become eligible to receive a no-strings-attached gift from Bill. He is challenging other businesspeople and celebrities to join him in the effort. He has committed to donate $1 million when he hits that number in followers. As of Monday, Mr. Pulte had more than 746.1k followers, a number that is growing rapidly.
Bill has said he wanted to harness the raw energy of social media — that so often turns vitriolic and divisive — for a positive message, and most importantly to tangibly help others in need. This contradicts everything that AOC and The Squad would have you believe about capitalists, and it certainly could cause Gordon Gecko to scratch his cocaine-covered chin.
You remember Gordon? He was the notorious investment banker in Oliver Stone’s 1987 film “Wall Street.” In a famous scene, Gecko utters the phrase “greed is good.” To millions of people lacking an informed understanding of how free markets operate, Gecko was providing the only moral justification for capitalism that could be made. He was saying that it’s OK to be a greedy businessperson because it leads to good things. This perversion, containing a small kernel of truth, was not palatable to most people. The average citizen thought, “we can be better.”
We are better.
Gecko’s claim that capitalism is driven by greed might be true for some, but what is true for all is that the capitalist is driven by their own individual purpose; that which is unique to them and motivates them to go out and take risks to produce wealth. It might be pure unadulterated “greed,” but it is more likely one of an infinite number of other motivators.
There are a few individuals who I interact with regularly who assist entrepreneurs in starting companies. They’ve told me over and again that businesspeople today regularly state that an objective in launching a business is to “make a difference.” They are motivated to use earnings to help charities and support the causes that matter to them. They know that they can’t help anybody unless they have the financial means necessary with which to offer that help. They start a business to generate a profit that they can use, in part, for the benefit of others. They want to give.
It is axiomatic that in order to give something to someone, you first have to have something to give. Socialism takes having that something as a “given.” But whether it is a winter coat or a donation through social media, that something has to be produced. Free markets have shown the ability to produce “somethings” on a scale unimaginable prior to their unleashing during the first and subsequent Industrial Revolutions.
A tacit assumption in socialist theory is that if the government controls what people can produce, how they can produce and how they may profit, then people will still want to produce with the same level of ingenuity and ambition. I ask you, how is it that the passion and vision of a Bill Pulte can come even close to being replicated by a bureaucrat’s pencil or in the machinations of a star chamber?
As to human failures, people tend to behave imperfectly, regardless of their profession or the economic system they exist within. If we have concerns about the exploitation of some people by other people, then there is no rational way to believe that people in government will behave any differently than those privately motivated.
In fact, if the 20th century is any evidence, and I very much believe it is, those who favor a government takeover of the economy are only more prone to corruption and destruction. The difference with people in government is they carry with them the “absolute” power of the law, and as the saying goes, it tends to corrupt absolutely. People outside of government are left with only the independent weapons their individual wealth, connections, ingenuity or physical strength can afford. All of these forces, while sometimes great, pale relative to the limitless resources of the state. The prospect of this ideology taking over in the United States, the most richly resourced government in the history of humanity, should rightly terrify us all.
If you are voters who are contemplating the embrace of a socialist ideal, I urge you to consider what you will forsake if it actually comes to pass.
More important than controlling the negative aspects of human nature and the free market is the positive attributes free markets contain. The good is the empowerment of voluntary institutions of charity, faith and ingenuity, institutions that wither under socialism. The good is empowering people like Bill Pulte, and hundreds of millions of others, to pursue their personal purpose for the good of all mankind.
• Charlie Kirk is the founder and executive director of Turning Point USA. He is also host of “The Charlie Kirk Show.”
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