Over Part One and Part Two we’ve seen that taking personal responsibility does not mean one has to – or that one even can – do it alone and still be successful. At least not financially successful. And, nowhere does this hold more true than in a Capitalistic society.
It’s difficult to even imagine that in a free-enterprise based society, where the Division of Labor* and specific areas of expertise are so crucial to both individual and overall success, that anyone can ever be totally “self-made.”
In fact, while most people believe that the free-er the country (i.e., where the rights of the individual reign above those of the collective) the more self-contained and do-it-yourself life is, the opposite is actually true.
You and I can’t even have our morning cup of coffee without the efforts of thousands of people we don’t even know doing the work it takes to get it to us from the very beginning of the process to its final form. A cup of coffee? We wouldn’t even have a pencil to write with* never mind a computer to make our work easier and more profitable were it not for the help of many, many others.
The key to remember though is that it must be a voluntary exchange between suppliers and consumers. The market – when left to its own devices (where government’s only legitimate functions are the protection against force and fraud) – works. It works very well. The current Financial Fiasco suffered by the U.S. was not a failure of Capitalism. Much like the Great Depression of the 30’s, it was caused by extreme government intervention in the normal workings of the marketplace.**
So, yes, while we must not only take responsibility for ourselves, and encourage a society where this is the socially acceptable and normal way to live life (while voluntarily and charitably helping those who truly cannot help themselves), we also need to recognize that, in terms of doing it alone…it jes’ ain’t gonna’ happen. Not if we are to thrive both individually and as a society.
*Would you like an astounding look at the magnificence of “Division of Labor” and see how the voluntary exchange of countless people is key to a free and abundant society? (and really cool pencils?) 🙂 Click here for this brief and famous essay. Prepare to be astounded.
**How can I say that Capitalism didn’t fail us? Click here for a brief essay by Sharon Harris that explains the situation very logically and clearly and in a completely non-partisan manner.