... [C]apitalism vigorously pursued has never produced the atrocities – starvation, tyranny, and genocide – that are produced by statism vigorously pursued. Nothing remotely close.
Capitalism vigorously pursued might produce trade cycles and long periods of high unemployment; it might produce anxiety in yesterday’s successful entrepreneurs who now face competition from today’s upstart entrepreneurs; it might cause too many people to become obese; it might kill off animal species in unusually high numbers; it might cause the earth’s climate to change; it might create asset bubbles; it might spark envy and over-work in the Smiths who are trying to keep up with their neighbors, the Joneses. It might do these things and others that reasonable people might regard as unfortunate in comparison with some imaginable paradise.
But we must never lose sight of this important asymmetry: complete or near-complete state control of the economy has proven to be a sure recipe for deep impoverishment and brutal tyranny, while historical periods that have been close to laissez faire – that is, much closer to laissez faire than is America at the dawn of 2012 – have produced nothing remotely of the sort. Indeed, whatever problems might be caused by more and more reliance upon laissez faire capitalism are always accompanied by – and are at least partially (and arguably more than completely) off-set by – unambiguous benefits of capitalism such as the elimination of starvation, more abundant supplies of clothing, and better housing.
Any problems promoted by greater and greater reliance upon capitalism, in short, are first-world problems (which isn’t to say that these problems should be tolerated); they are problems incomparably more tolerable than are the horrors promoted by the elimination of capitalism.