The Grinch: the consummate capitalist, or…

Grinch Does another economic system fit the envious green creature who attempted to steal Christmas from the Whos? It is the habit of some to describe capitalists as scrooges and grinches throughout the Christmas season. One may hear the following arguments. Just as the Grinch stole from the Whos, capitalists steal or exploit weaker peoples. Just as the Grinch exploited his dog Max, capitalists exploit their workers. Yet, these arguments stem from faulty understandings of capitalism. The late Ronald Nash refuted these two arguments in his book Social Justice and the Christian Church.

Nash attacked the notion that capitalism naturally leads to the exploitation of weaker countries.

Countries that take advantage of weaker nations are those that are richer, more powerful or more industrialized. But these advantages are exercised by socialist nations as well as nations that approximate a market economy. The claim that capitalism necessarily involves the exploitation of weaker and poorer nations can only be made by those who ignore the equal complicity of socialist states. (122)

Do capitalists exploit their own workers just as the Grinch exploited Max? Nash summarized the defense of capitalism against the charge of exploitation.

The argument that capitalism is immoral because it necessarily exploits the worker by allowing the capitalist excess profits at the worker’s expense is a mixed bag. It is perfectly consistent with a market system to defuse this possibility by offering workers a chance to share in all “excess profits,” whatever this might be taken to mean. But why should workers be given an opportunity to share any winnings without also bearing an equal responsibility to share the risks and possible losses? Thus, it is false that capitalism necessarily involves the exploitation of the worker. (121)

The Grinch was not a capitalist. Capitalism is a series of laws against force, fraud, theft, and violation of contract. Without such laws, there could be no free exchanges within the market. After all, you are not entering a free exchange if someone is holding a gun to your head. You are not entering a free exchange if someone is lying to you. You are not entering a free exchange if the other signer of the contract has no intention of keeping it. The Grinch was a thief. Thieves break the rules of capitalism.

Since capitalists do not of necessity exploit weaker peoples, exploit their workers, or steal from others, the Grinch was not a capitalist. Rather, he felt that the riches of others should be used to improve his own lot. That sounds more like the economics of a socialist than that of a capitalist.

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About haroyce

Royce is an aspiring writer of fantasy, history, philosophy, and theology. He earned his BS in History from Cedarville College, and his MDiv from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
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