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Philosophizing On Capitalism -- Why We Should Help Others

Updated: 3 days ago

An intimidating young woman.

The Two Sides of the Coin: Capitalism vs. Social Welfare

One of the core problems with capitalism is that it leads to a great divide between two main types of people: Those who know how to make great sums of money, and those who take small bites of that money by working their lives until retirement (assuming they will even have one, given that not everyone can even afford it).

The same ideology that promotes individual freedom and free markets can also devolve into an oligarchy, a society ruled by a rich minority. This is just like how democracy can turn into a tyranny of the majority. Some may claim that the United States, for instance, is transfroming from a democracy into an oligarchy, as the richer are able to get away with their crimes more than others, and thus compromise justice in the name of more profit.

Communism, even though it was a failure in execution that led to the foundation of oppressive dictatorships, was a philosophy that at least gave us a reason to care about others, the common good. It promoted unity, patriotism, caring for your fellow men and women, and altruism—values that are often overlooked by more capitalistic societies.

Therefore, even though capitalism brings much liberty to the economy, it fails to answer the following question: why should we care for someone when they do not serve us in any way? Why should we help others when our efforts can be invested elsewhere, such as in making even more money?

If we wish to promote both our individual liberties and the importance of altruism to people who are unable to reach the same achievements as we did, (such as making lots of money or getting a steady job with a reasonable pay), we should at least consider promoting the social unification behind socialist and/or communist philosophies. That is along with the importance of providing welfare to those in need.

For the benefits of social unification are many, not only to the economy but also to our health. Social unification between people allows the nurturing of more empathy, of reducing loneliness, and the prevention of unnecessary conflict, which could further deteriorate into coercion, into trauma, and into war. All of the three we are capable of preventing, and that is done by understanding the importance of a healthy and beneficial social engineering.

While I don't think capitalism is evil by itself, some people do, according to Mr. John Duran:

Surely, something to think about.

The Unfair Share: Capitalism and the Need for Social Safety Nets

The immense wealth generated by capitalism can be a double-edged sword. While it fosters material prosperity, it often comes at the cost of neglecting those who struggle to participate effectively in the rat race, known for its comrpomises on both physical and mental health. The current system prioritizes profit maximization, leaving many, particularly the poor, the disabled, and the underprivileged, vulnerable to the unfairness of modernity.

I am not trying to condemn wealthy individuals. Much of the donations to charity comes from America's wealthiest people, the Forbes 400. However, the capitalist system itself rewards immense personal gain over broader societal well-being. This results in a situation where abundance exists alongside poverty, where only those who care for their own profit-making, and do it successfully, are appreciated than those who struggle, regardless if whether or not they care for the overall well-being of society.

Some may not even bother caring about societal well-being because there's no money to be made worrying about it. Many employees report that their bosses don't even care about their mental health, at least in the UK. Furthermore, caring about the wellbeing of others could in theory be even costlier, especially when it comes to one's employees. An example for that is something known as an EAP, or an employee assistance programme, which has its share of exapanses.

For many bosses, however, it's preferable for them to outright fire people with mental health issues and replace them with healthier individuals, than to actually make the extra cost of supporting them. Mental health is a professional taboo for a reason.

Capitalist philosophy is about maximizing profit, not reducing them in favor of others. An asset is there to generate revenue. When an asset yields less revenue, its value decreases, compelling companies to replace it. Workers are assets as well. Treating people as mere assets is one of the reasons individuals are expendable, unfortunately.

I guess that from this aspect much evil can indeed stem from capitalism, unfortunately -- when you have the power to care for others, but refuse to do so.

The vast resources concentrated in the hands of a privileged few highlight the shortcomings of a purely market-driven approach. Global corporations and the ultra-wealthy possess more than they likely need, while others lack basic necessities.

Using Wealth For The Greater Good

The relentless pursuit of profit often overshadows altruism, perpetuating a cycle where the disadvantaged remain trapped, while the advantaged thrive on their prosperity. The current distribution of wealth creates a grim inequality: the "have-nots" with too little and the "haves" with an abundance they can't fully utilize.

A hypothetical wealth redistribution, as presented in welfare programs, wouldn't necessarily impoverish the rich; it would elevate the poor. Imagine a society where everyone can afford basic needs, education, and debt relief. This wouldn't significantly impact the wealthy, but it would transform the lives of those struggling.

Furthermore, we need to take into account that it is possible to contribute to society even outside of the orthodox ways of life. My personal experience as a writer, for example living on disability benefits offers a different perspective. I view my ability to become a deadbeat "klumnik" with great guilt, and thus refuse to be one. Instead, as a token of my gratitude, I relentlessly work on Philosocom and strive to be a master in the art of article writing. I think this is only fair.

While the income itself from my welfare is below minimum wage, I manage to live and work through the adaptation of the ascetic lifestyle. This approach, while not universally applicable, demonstrates the power of minimizing expenses to achieve a degree of optimal contribution to society.

However, it's crucial to acknowledge that frugality has its limits. Not everyone has a stable income, let alone one sufficient for a life they could make the optimal use of.

Despite my self-described egoism (refusing to hang out with others and remaining asocial), a strong desire to help those in need persists within me. I am aware that helping others is the highest moral thing to do, and that to combat corruption one must strive for morality. We need to bridge this gap between personal pleasure and societal wellbeing, to better ensure the possibility of more people having a fair shot at a good life.

Finding Purpose In Helping Others

During my National Service at Shamir Medical Center (formerly Asaf Ha'rofe) in 2018, I volunteered as an office clerk. While not inherently social, I found myself readily assisting others: from a lost elderly woman to a foreigner struggling with the local language.

This experience reinforced my belief in the power of collaboration. We all rely on external support to thrive. Mutual support is the way to go for the general increase of output and prosperity. It's why people collaborate in the first place: To do, or to better do, things one struggles or cannot do entirely alone. We form syndicates more than we might think we do.

Here's the twist of a poorly-conducted moral egoism: as an egoist, neglecting to be helpful goes against my core values, as prioritizing on helping others is a pretty functional egotist drive. It might sound ironic, but I find personal satisfaction in service to others, and forming closer relationships with them do not only benefit them but me and Philosocom as well.

This drive to be a good, accomplished, and helpful person fuels my desire to contribute. I do not waste energies in aimless interactions with people. A well-crafted plan for mutual benefit is how my time and energy is best spent. Thus, collaboration is preferrable than discarding those who can greatly help one's cause. Taking into account their needs is beneficial for one's needs as well, and it is morally better than outright oppressing people for personal interest.

Despite not being a social butterfly, I strive to be a moral being for functional reasons. Ethics is philosophy's most practical asset, and is a major reason as to why philosophy should not be discarded as irrelevant.

Helping others aligns with my personal code of conduct – it's simply good business in the grand scheme of things. Understand where I'm coming from to improve your productivity as well, not just as an individual but as part of a greater organization.

People should be free to forge their own moral paths, but let us not undermine the importance of looking both ways.

Mr. Nathan Lasher's Feedback

Aren’t all societies about capitalism to some extent? We determine the value of a nation by the flow of money within it. Every news report about war mentions economics to some extent. Aren’t all humans capitalistic by nature, one created by the world, where we associate success with money, as mentioned in Mr. Tomasio's Defining Success article? Aren’t most people about making more money for themselves?
Consider this: Money can be used for both good and evil. Whichever you decide to use money to express, good or evil, the fact still remains that it involves money. Just a matter of why you want it. Capitalism is not bad as at its core you have people who are driven to have a better life than they currently have. 
I take the principles of capitalism and apply them to my life. To be better than yourself is a noble cause which I think deserves more credit. It’s when one becomes better at selfish notions that an issue arises.
You can be capitalistic about anything. Good things would include bettering yourself mentally and physically. What if we all wanted to make the most out of either of those? Your goal towards both should be to be the best version of yourself possible.
When you gain this mentality, work doesn’t mean the same thing anymore. You stop thinking of it as something you have to do and start to see it as something you get to.
Have better reasons is one of the pillars of life’s journey. If you extract the principles of capitalism and apply meaning you will have an unstoppable force. Look at any good national charity, they are going good and understand the importance of money to continue to do so. These type of causes are examples of healthy capitalism: Being able to raise money for the right reasons is a vitally important skill set to have.
There are good and bad sides of both which everyone is capable of. That is all capitalism is. The desire to have more isn’t necessarily an evil notion. Churches are all about capitalism as making money is what allows them to do more good. There are important aspects of capitalism one must consider. Capitalism is a liberty not everyone gets to enjoy. Being in a free market economy means that one is able to go out and make money if they can figure out a way to do so. 
Socialism in an economic sense leads to no innovation and requires private capital to finance actions, which is the whole point of life: actions. If everything was "socialized" nobody would have a desire to go out and do anything.
If you're structured so all goods had to be sold at the same price there would be no greater desire to be more than you currently are. Less incentive to grow when your potential future already has a predetermined limit placed upon itself.
Take this for instance. A normal family doctor makes x amount per patient they see. A more specialized doctor makes y per patient they see. If there were no capitalism due to preset prices then we would have less specialists due to salary per position already being predetermined. 
Think about it from a capitalistic approach. A good business meets a need or want. What’s wrong with capitalism when it is a need being met? And there are already precautions against price gouging, so this allows our needs to get met at a competitive rate.
There are safeguards in place to offset greed. Capitalism means competition, which means businesses must compete to differentiate themselves from each other. A good entrepreneur understands this. They find a need or want that people have and find a way which meets that particular demand.
And whats wrong with turning your product into a luxury one? Nothing wrong with supplying this, fixing a problem, and making money at the same time.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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