IN CHICAGO'S FUTURES PITS,corner of Wacker and Monroe
And although the pits, which many old-time floor members consider to be the last bastion of free-market capitalism, are often referred to as the "Wild West," the most violent incident you're likely to see is the infrequent school-yard-style fist fight. While the occasional black eye or bloody nose isn't something to be proud of, it isn't too bad when you consider that $24 trillion worth of futures traded in August alone. It's a sum that easily trumps the GDP of England, France, Italy, Mexico, Spain, Sweden, Austria and Norway...combined.
Regardless, shoving matches do infrequently happen, and when they do, they are quickly broken up and forgotten about over a few beers at the Berghoff.
It's telling that despite the huge stakes and the high tension, there's so little violence. That's the way capitalism is supposed to work. And there's no question that capitalism is the most productive force that humanity has even known. The incredible advancements in every aspect of contemporary human life from technology to medicine to movies can be directly linked to the achievements of rational individuals in a free society.
Consider the advancement in communication technology alone: While many of the world's citizens have yet to make a phone call, lots of Americans are already upgrading to high-speed Internet access. Or that while citizens in many other countries don't have access to proper nutrition or adequate water, a large percentage of Americans actually "suffer" from obesity. We don't just have "enough" to eat. We've got too much.
And those who are quick to denounce the seemingly high cost of prescription drugs forget that it's a major scientific miracle just to have them in the first place.
Even a cursory statistical comparison between the U.S., the world's first and most dominant democracy, and its less capitalist counterparts tells the tale.
The economic benefits and quality of life we've all come to enjoy in this country didn't fall from the sky. The microchip didn't grow on a tree. The supermarket didn't sprout out of the soil. So what creates all this prosperity, along with the jobs, opportunities and quality of life that goes along with it? Not the government or god. It was the capitalists.
And beyond the obvious material and medical advantages, what makes capitalism the most moral> social system in human history is that it doesn't entail the use of physical force or coercion by one individual or group against another. You can't beat the baker into giving you bread. You can't enslave the steelworker until he pours metal.
As philosopher Ayn Rand wrote in "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal," "It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others."
We are at war. But from my perspective, the war being fought isn't between Americans and a yet-to-be determined band of terrorists, but between capitalism and statism. Between those who produce, and those who destroy. Literally, between the forces of justice...and evil.
|Coming to America|
|Infant Mortality Rate||6.82 deaths / 1,000 live births||149.28 deaths / 1,000 live births||62.49 deaths / 1,000 live births||29.3 deaths / 1,000 live births (2000 est.)||28.92 deaths / 1,000 live births (2000 est.)|
|Life Expectancy||77.12 years||45.88 years||66.53 years||71.25 years||71.38 years|
|Unemployment Rate||4.2%||N/A||N/A||18%||20% est.|
|Government||Democratic / Capitalist||Fundamen-
|Military Dictatorship||Divided / Military||Communist|
|* Age 15 and over can read and write||Source: CIA Factbook 2000|
In a capitalist society based on the concept of individual rights, we can resolve our dispute without even throwing a punch. We place our wagers and let the free market decide.
As traders, we don't settle our differences with knives or bombs, but with ideas and insight. The trader doesn't steal from the rich or the poor. He lives not as a parasite, but as a producer. He is free to invest and trade as he sees fit taking the risks, accepting the consequences and benefiting all of mankind in the process.
Many are worried that this week's brutal, cowardly and horrific attacks will undermine confidence in the U.S. economy, and for a period of time, they might. Markets will be volatile. The dollar could drop. Energy prices could continue to rise. In short, our world will get ugly for awhile.
But this too shall pass. And when it does, I'll bet any amount of money that those who practice and protect free-market capitalism will be leading the way up. And as long as that precious and inalienable right isn't violated, I think the war is already won.
Jonathan Hoenig is portfolio manager at Capitalistpig Asset Management, a Chicago-based hedge fund.>