Are you concerned about poverty in the Third World and want to do something about it?
Often seen as synonymous with oppression and greed, and slammed in rabble-rouser Michael Moore's latest film, capitalism has actually allowed more Americans to achieve a higher standard of living than those living in any other country on earth. What's more, it could also help lift impoverished nations out of their misery.
So why does capitalism get such a bad rap?
Jay Richards tackles the mystery on October 21 at a CCU symposium, which will give students the opportunity to take two days out of the school year to ponder the fundamental values of faith, family and freedom. (Richards speaks at 10:50 a.m. Wednesday.)
Richards, an author, policy analyst and documentary producer, will discuss his latest book, "Money, Greed and God: Why Capitalism is the Solution and Not the Problem." His speech will challenge the CCU audience to face down the myths that make some Americans despise their own economic system, even though it has produced the most free and compassionate nation in the world.
"When I wrote the book, I had in mind a target audience of young, college-age Christians that are concerned about things like poverty in the Third World and are dying to do something about it," Richards says. "The problem is they (often) confuse their good intentions with poor public policies. These are just the type of people that I want to persuade."
So why is capitalism such a hard sell? "Because it's counter-intuitive," Richards says. "There is something perennially attractive about socialism because (people believe) that it somehow helps the poor."
In his book, Richards confronts eight myths about capitalism, including the false idea that you cannot be a Christian and a capitalist, or that capitalism is based on greed. The truth is, it is capitalism that has freed Americans to accumulate wealth, and they in turn have become the most generous people on earth. (Think of the millions of dollars that Americans spontaneously send to areas devastated by disaster.)
Richards also uses graphs to explain that capitalism is the rule in countries with the highest standard of living and the most individual liberty. In socialist countries, individuals are prevented from freely accumulating wealth, the standard of living is low and government controls most aspects of people's lives.
However, the economic system is routinely and cynically trashed in the media, in many secular universities, and in pop culture, including Michael Moore's recently released film, Capitalism: A Love Story.
"Michael Moore is one big bundle of cliches," Richards says, adding that he would welcome debating Moore, and is encouraged that his pro-capitalism argument is generating interest from the media as a counter-argument to the left-wing filmmaker. He says the film's arguments are easily debunked, though it is undeniably powerful in the way it can harden the public's already false impressions of capitalism.
In his CCU address, Richards will do some myth-smashing. For example, he will tackle the myth that good intentions always produce good results. Not so, and one example may especially resonate with college-age students trying to get a summer job. Few politicians oppose the minimum wage, because it appears to be a positive and compassionate gesture. But in truth, as minimum wage grows higher, more jobs are eliminated by businesses because they become unaffordable.
"I want people to think about these things," Richards says.