Democracy Died Tonight … Capitalism Died A Long Time Ago

“Democracy died tonight” – some random Wisconsin voter who was failed miserably by the education system

I didn’t post at the time, as I was traveling back from a wonderful vacation (got to take the kids to see my parents for a week), but the “Democracy Died Tonight” video from the Wisconsin recall election is making the rounds. Have a look:

Democracy Died Tonight …

Somebody help this poor child. Let me get this straight, we had a vote, your side lost, so democracy died? That’s absurd.

Now, on to your tertiary point of “they out-spent us” … on advertisements! So, they spent more (i.e., sacrificed more of their capital, an extension of their lives, to spread their message), but did they actually buy votes? That is, did anybody receive compensation for voting for Walker? To that point, how much “compensation” were unions expecting with their votes against Walker?

Capitalism Died A Long Time Ago …

On that note, I’ve picked up a couple of web conversations about “democracy and capitalism” lately. Namely, are the two incompatible? (For instance, check out Charles Smith over at “Of Two Minds” with “Is Capitalism Incompatible with Democracy?” – side note, I always love reading Smith’s work.)

I think a lot of the answer depends on term definition. If by “capitalism” we mean “crony capitalism” then I’d say it is completely compatible with democracy. To that end, democracy is simply a different potential vehicle for oppression. In a dictatorship, one person oppresses the rest – in a democracy the majority oppresses the rest. That’s probably better than a dictatorship, but it is not the same as freedom.

If by “capitalism” we mean a free market where people interact with one another exchanging goods and services as they see fit (and have property rights) then perhaps democracy is not exactly consistent with this – because democracy is not freedom. No, for freedom, and for viable capitalism, we need a limited government. That is, a government that has very limited capacity to inject itself in the lives of others.

In a democracy this means that you and I have very limited capacity to inject our judgments, moral or otherwise, into the decisions of our neighbors. More to the point, we only insert ourselves when the decisions of our neighbors expressly violate the freedom and rights of others. Give us that government and we can have freedom and capitalism – and we can do it inside a democracy, so long as the reach of government power is limited.

That type of freedom, that type of capitalism died off a long time ago in this country.

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