After my dad and I wrote a column criticizing candidates for their general inability to defend capitalism, one of the candidates asked us if we could defend capitalism in two minutes. Granted that it’s easier to write something down than to come up with it spontaneously, following is what I came up with (which obviously owes a great deal to Ayn Rand):
Capitalism is the only economic system that recognizes the right of each individual to his own life and pursuit of happiness. Under capitalism, the government’s sole responsibility is to protect individual rights, including the right to life, the right to control one’s own property consistent with the equal rights of others, and the right to interact voluntarily. No person may use force against any other except in lawful self-defense.
Capitalism does not mean today’s mixed economy, in which some property is held by individuals, some by the government, in which politicians control most aspects of the economy with reams of controls, in which nearly half of all produced wealth is forcibly redistributed by politicians. Do not blame capitalism for the current economic mess, which was caused by government-controlled lending institutions and political rules that forced other lenders to make risky loans.
Capitalism is the only system that recognizes the right of each individual to live by his own judgment. Each person is free to choose what to study, how long to study, what career to pursue, when to change careers, how long to work, where to live, where to shop, and where to recreate. However, no person may force anyone else to provide any good, service, job, or relationship. To get something from someone else, each individual must freely trade to get it or rely on gifts given voluntarily. Because each individual acts on his own judgment, capitalism is the system geared to the production of wealth. Individuals can make economic mistakes, but when they do they are less able to induce others to exchange goods and services. Capitalism thus forbids all political action beyond the protection of rights as instances of force, the effect of which is to disrupt the rational plans of individuals as they produce and interact. Capitalism rewards good judgment and productivity, leading to an increasingly wealthy society in which any honest, hard-working person can prosper and the most productive can keep what they richly deserve.