Capitalism as Charity

There’s so much good about this article. First of course, is the water filter. I want one. And the generator. But second, the capitalism: let’s make these people rich, so we can sell stuff to them.

“We believe Coca-Cola’s business can only be as healthy as the community it is part of, so the well-being of the community is important to our long-term strategy,” says Derk Hendriksen, the general manager of the Ekocenter program. Notably, the company won’t directly profit from the program; each “downtown in a box” will operate as a standalone business run by a local entrepreneur, typically a woman, selected and trained by Coke. (That the soda giant enjoys an image boost in the process goes without saying.)

I can’t find it online, but there’s an anecdote about Milton Friedman debating Ayn Rand on altruism, where he said that if altruism is a deep and abiding concern of one man for the needs of his neighbor, then no one is more altruistic than an honest businessman, because his entire livelihood comes from finding ways to benefit his neighbor. If he can’t find a way to give his neighbor something that is more valuable to him than the cash in his pocket, the businessman has to close up shop.

And here you have a case in point.

I’m not sure what to do with the giant close-up picture of the inventor at the front. If I ever become famous and need to get my picture put up everywhere, I’m going to have to find a way around getting weird pictures taken of me.

Not that it’s ever happened

Here’s a fellow that says Christians are being persecuted by capitalism, though I’m afraid I miss the argument. It has something to do with the idea that being well off makes it hard to believe in sin, righteousness, and judgement. Or, the prospect of providing for your family makes it impossible to proclaim the gospel. As I said, I don’t quite follow.

I like the idea of soft persecution, and I think that’s certainly in existence. As the author of Hebrews says, “You have not resisted… to the point of shedding your blood.” But soft persecution in a wealthy industrialized society is not the same as being persecuted by the free market. Surely the free market, to such extent as there is one, is a protection from persecution. If a guy won’t hire you because you’re a christian, there’s likely to be another one around the corner who will. In a free market, a Christian might even start his own business, and run it according to his religious convictions.

You might even say that a country that won’t allow a fellow to run his business according to his religious convictions isn’t participating in a free market at all.

(Hat Tip: The Schooley Files. I almost forgot!)