Capitalism as practiced in the United States is misunderstood. Yesterday I had a couple of interesting callers to my Politics Done Right show on Pacifica Network's KPFT 90.1 FM in Houston, Texas. The week previous I admonished drug companies for pilfering poor and middle-class Americans. I pointed out some stats and bad acts.
Leo, a caller, did what I asked all my callers to do, he researched the topic to fact check me. Leo was of the belief that the capitalism practiced by drug companies was likely the only way we could get the research and development of the drugs we need. He believes that companies with universal health care are spunging off of the innovation and capital of Americans. I point out the fallacy of that notion.
Leo was the first caller yesterday. His numbers that he researched did not match my narrative, or so he thought. I pointed out his numbers were actually correct, but presented in a manner that inferred the benevolence of the drug industry.
The next caller, Jerry, was upset with Leo as he believed he was attempting to carry water for the drug companies. Leo also had implied that I was anti-capitalist which opened the door for me to describe in layperson terms the difference between capitalism and free enterprise. They are not the same.
Capitalism can exist in democratic or repressive states. Both the United States and China are capitalist countries. Free enterprise can only exist in a democratic state where individuals have choices. The problem in America is that the corporation, the by-product of capitalism, was made a person, an individual. As such it has rights. It has used those rights in many instances to get its will. Read the article "Corporate Personhood explained in simple terms for the rest of us" for an understanding of the corporation and personhood in America.
It is essential to point out that corporations were initially given charters to complete a task, generally a public good, that lasted a fixed number of years. When that was complete they simply went out of existence. Today, they live in perpetuity and as an entity do whatever is necessary to survive. Ideally, after a corporation completed its mission and its stockholders rewarded for their investment, it should revert to the public domain. In that manner, investors would really be investing in innovation. While the ongoing results of innovation would revert to the public domain.