These days a kind of “anti-business” mentality is relatively common, particularly among young people. They view businesses and capitalism as a big part of many of the problems that a lot of us face today.
But today, I want to talk about the biggest contribution of business to humanity. Because despite what some people might say, business is a great thing.
There are a lot of criticisms
These days, if you turn on your tv, or open up any social media app, you’ll hear someone telling you about how evil business is. Just a few clicks will tell you how the world would be a better place is we just got everything from the government.
There is a claim. Business owners only care about their bottom line, and in trying to get it, destroy the planet, force people to live in squalor, and never pay their taxes.
I’m not saying businesses should have the freedom to do what they wish. It doesn’t matter if they sell lemonade or Relaxation CBD; they still need to obey the laws.
The rise of capitalism
The rise of capitalism is a long story. There’s a bit of debate about how it started and who the first ever capitalist was.
But the basic story is agreed upon by most historians. Before capitalism, the system was feudalism, where everything was centred around the king. Society had a hierarchy, and moving up, it was nearly impossible.
But thanks to capitalism, your success was not determined by what family you were born into, but how efficiently you were able to work. That’s the idea at least.
I often hear that capitalism has “failed”, but I don’t believe this to be the case. Let me explain why.
Two hundred years ago, before capitalism had started, 97% of the global population was living in extreme poverty. Life during this time was tough; there was no fresh water, healthcare, education, etc. Being fed would have been your only concern. Seeing family histories might require a social security death index search to find information.
Today, the number of people who live in absolute poverty is closer to 10% of the global population. Of course, this number is still way too high. Still, the blunt reality is that because of capitalism; many people have been able to have a better life for themselves.
How did this happen?
So, how did capitalism mean that so many people were able to get themselves out of such a nasty situation?
The main reason is that people were finally able to work for the betterment of society, and not just to please the king. We released new products, which enabled our lives to become more comfortable. If you wanted to leave your job and get a new one, such a thing was finally possible.
People who were born poor would have been able to work their way up, and one day be just as rich as the man they worked for when they started working.
There is another argument. However, Some would say that we only made this progress because of government intervention. They say that it’s the government fuelling projects and the economy that enabled more people to become successful.
These people would also say that government intervention is what prevented people from hiring children and selling slaves.
But I would say this isn’t so much a criticism of business, but more of a criticism of unregulated capitalism.
So long as laws and regulations bound them, business can do immense good for the world.
Thanks to business and capitalism, billions of people have been lifted out of poverty.
Thanks to business, the lives we lead today are more extended, healthier, and we have way more free time than we would have done 200 years ago.