I’m frequently frustrated by people (authors in particular) who seem to ‘pick and choose’ how they define and use words. The problem, as I see it, is that frequent and repeated use of ‘corrupted’ definitions create a ‘revised’ understanding of the word and ultimately a common distrust of the concept portrayed by the term.
One word that I believe is grossly ‘corrupted’ is ‘capitalism’. As a result capitalism is often portrayed as ‘bad’ even though there is no other system that has met with such success at creating and distributing wealth.
Authors frequently corrupt the definition of capitalism by recognizing only that capitalism is the private ownership of capital goods. They are then able to defile capitalism by pointing out how ‘greed’ encourages these private owners to victimize their customers. Invariably this leads to some suggestion of more ‘regulation’ in order to protect the ‘innocent’ consumer.
CAPITALISM: an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market ( Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 28 Dec. 2013. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/capitalism>.)
We are seeing the corruption of the ‘free market’ every day. Businesses using the government to create barriers to competition through regulation and tax policy or obtaining ‘favored’ status from the government by subsidy, guaranteed loan and tax ‘loopholes’ are examples of ‘crony capitalism’. The owners of these businesses are not operating in a ‘free market’ and our choices as consumers are being restricted. Innovation is often discouraged and the creation of wealth is slowed.
The other requirement for the effective operation of capitalism in a free market is the rule of law that protects private property rights.
Our founding fathers recognized this very simply because they had experienced the effect of capricious laws. Laws that on the whim of a government could deprive an individual of his personal property and freedom. Many of these are listed as part of the Declaration of Independence.
Recognizing that governments are prone to creating capricious laws they attempted to establish ‘common law’ (do all you have agreed to do, and do not encroach on other persons or their property) in the Declaration of Independence. Unfortunately, they failed to codify this belief in ‘common law’ in the constitution and we have seen it replaced by ‘civil law’ which imposes the government ‘law’ over ‘common law’. We now see rampant encroachment on our property by a government creating ‘civil law’ that is capricious and dangerous in its implementation.
What greater proof of this than the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act? A law that ‘forces’ everyone to buy insurance just because they live in this country. What could be a greater violation of personal property rights? Your earnings are no longer yours, they belong to the government. You no longer have freedom to choose your health care needs but must purchase what the ‘government’ dictates.