Capitalism is the best economic system derived for a nation in the history of humankind. No other economic system has created such wealth for so many people. No other economic system has provided such widespread opportunities for average people. No other economic system has responded to people’s needs as thoroughly. Capitalism has proven to be the most beneficial economic system on the planet. And what is the magic formula that makes capitalism so successful? I’ll tell you:
Capitalism harnesses human selfishness by rewarding the natural desire for personal gain when applied to benefit another.
Most agree that humans are very selfish. Instead of fighting against this truth, as many other economic systems attempt to do, capitalism accepts it and uses it to produce prosperity. The system allows people to profit when products and services are offered to meet the needs of other people. By permitting the market to determine demand and enabling people to profit by meeting that demand, capitalism uses human selfishness as the engine to drive an entire economic system.
Of course, capitalism presents one significant flaw for Christians: selfishness is a sin.
Whenever selfishness is the engine that drives an entire economic system, sinful results are sure to follow. After all, selfishness by definition is a preoccupation with self. Capitalism creates an artificial altruism that masks our natural tendency to take advantage of others. This is behind the recent near collapse of our financial markets. This is behind the outsourcing of jobs overseas. This is behind the unfair trade practices between capitalist nations and poor agrarian societies. This is behind the environmental atrocities witnessed in the last two hundred years. Capitalist systems tend to take advantage of people whenever possible if personal gain can be realized.
As Christians it is our responsibility recognize the inherent flaws within our capitalist system and speak against those flaws when people are being taken advantage of. We cannot turn our back when economic systems value profit over people. Biblical Christianity contradicts selfishness at every turn and if we call ourselves followers of Jesus then how can we do any differently? How can we turn our heads when selfishness has run amuck? How can we close our mouths when selfishness becomes the dominating force? Must we accept the totality of capitalism when some aspects so clearly contradict our faith?
Capitalism is the best economic system derived for a nation in the history of humankind, but it is a fundamentally flawed economic system. I am a capitalist not just because I am an American, but also because I believe in it. I am also a Christian, which means God’s values are most important to me. When God’s values conflict with my economic values then God’s values win every time. That is why I say that I am a capitalist, mostly.