Disclaimer: Although the following ideas are grounded in reality, they do not come from the perspective of someone with a background in economics or public policy. They are theoretical.
Taking a single glance at the state of American politics should be enough to tell us one thing—As politicians continue to shout insults at each other and paint their own narratives, we have become hyper-polarized.
One such narrative is that capitalism is a force for equal opportunity. Simultaneously, the other side retorts that it opens the door for worker exploitation and inequality.
With the politicization of America comes an unwillingness to compromise.
But when compromise becomes an option, becomes clear that using socialist tactics as a way to create an ethical capitalistic system that promotes equal opportunity may actually be ideal.
To begin, we must establish that society is not equal. While supporters of capitalism state that those who struggle financially are simply lazy, that’s often far from the truth. In actuality, social disenfranchisement is rampant. For instance, African American communities continue to be victims of police discrimination while white collar crime runs widespread. Another example would be the oppression of native populations through the promotion of alchoholism and gambling. And to cap it all off, nearly 40% of the nation’s wealth is in the hands of the top 1% elite (Jacobin).
This is where a philosopher named John Rawls comes into play.
One of the conclusions that he reached through his work is a stance., Rawls advocates that it is only by disproportionately helping those who are the least advantaged that we can create an equal society.
For instance, imagine that an athlete develops a reliance on their left leg despite wanting to make their legs equally strong. Given this, they would not train both of their legs equally since the weaker leg will never become as strong. Instead, they must train the weaker leg disproportionately more than the strong one in order to create equal strength.
In a similar manner, we must aid those who are oppressed in society more so than those who are wealthy since giving everyone the same benefits does not result in equality. Once all are starting from similar points, a free market and hard work can become factors.
And yes, there will remain those who are poor and those who are rich.
Yes, there will be those who are lazy and those who are diligent.
Yet, when the top 1% of a high GDP country holds 40% of the wealth, the only way to ensure that it is due to factors such as laziness is to make sure that all have true equal opportunity.
Thus, it is the role of any legitimate government seeking out capitalism to redistribute wealth and mitigate oppression. Then, the laissez-faire ideals of capitalism can be ethical in the creation of a truly merit-based economy.
One caveat is that with time, certain groups will become oppressed so perhaps mild socialist measures must be taken permanently in order to prevent this.
Once again, it should be noted that this article is theoretical and from an idealistic standpoint.
Please feel free to comment your opinions in the space below.