America’s best days are behind us. Our capitalist system is to blame. That’s the mantra we’re bombarded with every day. While politicians argue over the next COVID-19 bailout, it seems like only the government can save us. Not true.
American capitalism is not the problem. It’s the solution.
In fact, America is the greatest country the world has ever seen. And we the people have everything we need right in front of us to get out of this mess.
This isn’t some fanciful view, it’s based on historical fact.
For example, after World War II the Greatest Generation came home. They went to work and took control of their own destinies. They didn’t wait to see how the government would respond or what the new normal would look like.
Inventions and innovations that made the world safe for democracy created new industries. Men and women across this nation settled down, rolled up their sleeves and went to work. They took control of their financial destinies. They bought cars and homes, invested in the stock market and saved money.
The success of the average American lifted the whole nation out of a post-war recession — one that saw a whopping 12.7% decline in GDP as the government halted its war effort.
But the American people overcame that recession and gained financial freedom. Then, they turned to help their neighbors do the same, whether through civic assistance, creating business, and thereby jobs for thousands of others.
They gave of their abundance, built hospitals and funded welfare organizations and citizen groups to assist their fellow Americans who were struggling. They acted upon principles from the Bible: Building wealth is to care for the poor. In fact, after winning the war, American generosity rebuilt Europe through the Marshall Plan.
The Greatest Generation understood this responsibility of generosity. “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore, I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.” — Deuteronomy 15:11
This mindset set the stage for Americans becoming the the most generous people in the world. It’s a distinction we still hold today. And American capitalism is the only proven economic system that creates this environment. It allows one person’s financial success to create success for others at the same time.
Anti-capitalists like to argue that anyone who’s financially successful will hoard their earnings. But if you actually look at the numbers, they show how absurd and baseless that argument is.
According to the Giving USA Foundation’s annual report of charitable giving, Americans gave more than $410 billion in 2017. That’s 2.1% of the nation’s GDP.
What’s more, 70% of that charitable giving came from individuals.
Our country’s history is rich with stories of men and women who worked hard and had grit. They lifted themselves out of poverty and financial uncertainty and prospered. And then, they turned and helped their neighbors, or even strangers, do the same.
It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed in moments like this. Small businesses are on the ropes. There’s high unemployment. And tens of millions of Americans are being forced to change their retirement plans.
Few of us are immune to the unknowns this crisis has brought. But we don’t have to stay in a perpetual state of anxiety. We don’t have to wait around for what the next piece of government bailout legislation brings us.
Government will not save you or lift you out of poverty. The best government has ever been able to do is to merely maintain your current state.
True success and financial freedom only come from American ingenuity and free enterprise. And we should take advantage of what capitalism offers each and every one of us. Anyone who tells you that capitalism is the problem only wants to keep you dependent on others.
Every American has the resources at their fingertips. Right now, anyone can start digging themselves out of any situation due to COVID-19 and the economic recession.
What’s more, I believe we all have a responsibility to prosper and succeed, and then turn and help our neighbors do the same.
We owe it to them and to future generations. When the individual is free and succeeds, all of America succeeds. We’ve done it before, and we can do it again. No one ever got rich selling America short.
This time is no different.
Charles Mizrahi is a 40-year veteran of Wall Street and currently serves as founder of Alpha Investor.
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