Whenever we start to discuss economics with the left, or even some self-declared centrists, we will hear the accusation that supporting the principles of free markets and capitalism translates to us automatically hating the poor. Pro-capitalists aren’t more than bootlickers that hate the poor and don’t care about their fellow humans if it interferes with making a buck. Because they make this assumption, any arguments we put forwards after are immediately ignored and dismissed. If we aren’t begging the government to take massive portions of our income to hand to the poor we are simply heartless monsters that side with the supposed fat cats of Wall St. rather than with our fellow man.
Ignoring the easily dismissed insult that’s a component of this belief, there are some factually incorrect beliefs at play and a subcategory of a popular fallacy as well. Ad Hominem is a well know fallacy for any who have been in a debate. What many might not be aware of, however, is that there are subcategories to this fallacy. In the case of dismissing capitalistic arguments because they perceive that we hate the poor, we can see what is known as an Appeal to Motive fallacy in play. Appeal to motive is pretty straightforward. It takes place when someone attacks and questions the motives of the speaker rather than the arguments or points they are making. By assuming that it is a support of the rich over the poor or other such nonsense that drives our support for capitalism, centrist and leftward opponents are committing this fallacy.
There’s also the empirical evidence to review as well. There was a great piece over at The Mises Institute that explained how the government’s interference in our markets actually perpetuate and in many cases cause more people to be poor than they would have been otherwise. By pushing for standardized government handouts and restricting people’s ability to partake and advance in the market, they are only creating a dependency on the state rather than truly solving the problem. Government is a band-aid here; free markets are an actual cure.
Another thing that frankly is just silly about this belief is the notion that we are on the side of the rich. While most of the rich do indeed support capitalism, they do not truly support the free market capitalism that is espoused by libertarians. Instead, they want the government to regulate their competition out of the market through higher taxes, fees, restrictions, licensing, and copyrighting laws. In a truly free market anyone would be able to, for example, take the combination of chemicals needed for a specific pharmaceutical and turn that into a product. Big Pharma wouldn’t have the power or ability to stop people from manufacturing such combinations as the restrictions required would be gone. No longer would a handyman need to go through a massive, red tape entangled process to start offering their services to the community and by extension lift themselves out of their current station towards a brighter future. Outside of, and this is only partially, the Koch brothers few, if any, of the majorly wealthy want what libertarians want: A free and open market based purely on merit and the value you can provide.
Thinking that we hate the poor isn’t just an incorrect assumption, I would go as far as to say it is downright ignorant. It fails to understand what we actually stand for, where we are coming from in our stances, and the reality of the solutions that they have been supporting. Libertarians do not hate the poor, we hate poverty, and truly desire nothing more than to see it come to an end.
You can read more from Killian Hobbs on Think Liberty here.