It is not easy to distinguish between self-interest (virtue) and selfishness (vice). In Adam Smith's philosophy self-interest is a virtue that underpins industry, self-reliance, and individual responsibility. It would be difficult to support and defend yourself, your family, and your friends, if you didn't care about your own interests including the welfare of those you love. Selfishness is a different matter, because it implies being ok with the suffering of others who are not connected to you, and caring nothing for the welfare of those not in your own intimate circle.
There is no consensus on the meaning of freedom and liberty. Many people think that liberty means freedom to follow their own path in life but other people view liberty as freedom to wield power over others. Those who view liberty as a measure of power are inordinately concerned with inequalities of wealth. They regard freedom as meaningless if they are relatively poor compared to others, and relatively powerless to boot. They are not content to get on with their own life, free to do as they please, because they are consumed with envy.
There are two perspectives on whether law has any business banning the various transactions and interactions that go on in free markets. The first camp believes there should be more rules, as many rules as possible so that nothing is left un-banned. If the rules don't work, we just make more rules to fix that. The second camp believes there should be no rules at all, except maybe a select few rules needed to prop up the privileged class.
It is obvious why poor people would have a problem with rich people, but today we will consider why middle class people should also have a problem with rich people. Because inequality and unfairness. If inequality is a problem, then the fact that you're not actually poor is irrelevant. What's relevant is that there are people out there who can afford things beyond your financial reach, and that feels massively unfair. It feels terrible to be broke, unable to make ends meet, while all around you are rich people dripping with diamonds.
No man is an island. We all need each other to prosper and thrive. Nobody can create a market by himself, without other people with whom to engage in trade. Does this mean that the individual is insignificant, and it is the community or society that matters most? In the politics of inequality, does this mean that we should all share the available wealth and in that way, by building the bonds of society, we will eradicate inequality?
One striking element of chaotic capitalism is the unwieldy size of large corporations which poses many difficulties. By now everyone has heard of the separation of ownership and control in large corporations, since the problem was exposed by Berle and Means in 1932. There the corporation stands, a giant capitalist monolith, and when you try to pin down the owner, the person you can hold responsible for the crime of being too rich, he isn't there.
One of the main themes in regulating executive pay and improving corporate governance is that of disclosure. The idea is that bad corporate executives operate in the stealth and shadows, concealing their astronomical salaries. If the law could force them to display what's going on behind closed gates, everybody including shareholders and nosy members of the public could have a look and express their disapproval and disdain. That would fix things.
The 'gig economy' or sharing economy depends on discrete agreements for the performance of specified tasks or delivery of specified services. The important point is that the person doing the work is not an 'employee' of the person offering the work. Flying free, and being nobody's employee, is not a problem for that species of individualist who relishes independence and personal responsibility.
Explorers and adventurers from long ago had no phones to call anyone if they got lost or stuck. There was no wifi and no google maps to see where you were - perhaps you were the first person to try and map the terrain. I say terrain because there were no roads as we understand the meaning of a 'road' today; just a dirt track across the wilderness. Sounds risky, and it was. This is a helpful analogy for what happens if you let markets distribute wealth: you are in unchartered territory and you have no idea what will happen. Things could go in any direction. What happens when free individuals, with no safety nets or minimum wage laws whatsoever, are left at the mercy of untidy and chaotic markets when it comes to earning a wage?
Markets are not very neat and tidy. They are smelly, chaotic and full of poor people hustling for their next dollar, selling produce for slim profits that will never bring them closer to the salaries earned by bankers.
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