I’ve just read through this entire thread and have many thoughts swirling around in my head. To answer the original question, yes, I believe that capitalism is exploitive and does promote greed. Think Gordon Gecko, “Greed is good.”
Since you asked this in the religion forum then carefully consider the responses. Is “I am not my brother’s keeper,” a religious/spiritual thought? One you’d like to promote as moral? One can rationalize it from a philosophical point of view, but I, personally, have not been persuaded by that rationalization.
Some other personal reactions in no particular order.
|I believe that capitalism is the purest form of consensualism and is not inherently "evil" in any way.
|Give away your money. I do too. But, I am not my brother's keeper. Nor do I believe in a martyred life. Forced handing over of funds earned, is stealing.
This belief that I am not my brother’s keeper is, IMO, the most selfish and self-centered aspect of capitalism. Pat, I agree with thismama in that I am shocked that you embrace this belief. If capitalism is, indeed, the purest form of consensual living than that information has shattered any interest I ever had consensual living. There is nothing “consensual” or “mutually agreeable” about the extreme unequal distribution of wealth in the US.
Do you believe that “forced handing over of funds” also known as taxation, is stealing? You may believe that and many people who consider themselves conservative do believe exactly that. I believe that taxation can be a tool used for fairness and at least some equity.
In a country where so much of the wealth is concentrated in so few hands, I do not believe that wealthy people should consider themselves martyrs. A large percentage of that wealth is inherited wealth and although it may be nice to keep all that lovely money in the family, they did not earn that wealth through their labor.
You use the word “choice” as though it exists in vacuum without any outside influence. Americans are taught (brainwashed?) from an early age that the capitalist system is superior because we have freedom of choice. Read elementary school textbooks and you find that statement. But people who are born into unequal circumstances do not have the same choices that “wealthy, frugal” people like you have. Their choices are restricted.
You do the same with the concept of the “free market.” The market is not free and does not exist in a vacuum. The market is constantly influenced by various forces. The most current example of a perverted market is the tanking of the mortgage industry. People were manipulated and confused by greedy capitalists who wanted to make a fast buck and, as a result, many people will lose their homes.
You have set up a false dichotomy: either one does things based on individual choice OR one is coerced. There are many examples of countries (Sweden, Germany, France) with various amounts of socialism as their national philosophy because the people made the collective choice to do so. They were not coerced into having, for example, socialized medicine programs. The citizens consistently and repeatedly refuse to change those programs and are horrified at the American system based on so-called choice.
Capitalism focuses on the individual which is fine for certain things. But we live in a social world with other people and it benefits everyone to think of other people outside ourselves. I believe that thinking about other people IS a higher form of morality. I don’t think you can find any religious thinkers who suggest otherwise although you can find plenty of philosophers who obviously can and do.