Sunday, October 28, 2012

Capitalism and What It Really Means to Be Pro-Life

About two months ago, I wrote a blog post on what it really means to be pro-choice. If those who self-identify as pro-choice were to take the concept of choice seriously, being "pro-choice" would go well beyond abortion. It would only be fair if I put this scrutiny under the other side's label of being "pro-life." I want to do this not only out of a sense of fairness, but also because Thomas Friedman recently wrote a piece entitled "Why I Am Pro-Life." I was happy to see that much like I did with the label of being "pro-choice," he sought to apply the label of "pro-life" beyond the abortion debate. He said that letting Democrats call themselves "pro-choice" and Republicans call themselves "pro-life" is highly distorting, and I agree. I also agree with his definition of pro-life, which is it "should be shorthand for the sanctity of life," which is a good springboard for discussion. If we're going to take the idea of pro-life as seriously as the idea of pro-choice, the pro-life label needs to go beyond the issue of abortion. The issues of life and death are much more complex than that of being pro-choice. After briefly looking at a couple of issues that directly relate to the idea of being pro-life, I want to take the "pro-life" label to a whole different level.

The first is the issue with the death penalty. Proponents of the death penalty say that the heinous level of disrespect that a murderer shows is so high that we need a punishment austere enough to a) reaffirm the sanctity of life, and b) have proportionality to the crime committed. Those against the death penalty say that our reverence for life should be so high that we that should apply that to all individuals, even murderers. I certainly worry about the state having power over life and death while at the same time ensure that people who commit murder are adequately punished for their crimes. This is why I am cautiously anti-death penalty. Since both sides make arguments based on the idea of respect for life, it is probably why pro-life groups don't take official stances on the death penalty.

Then there is the matter of war. Self-defense is easily justifiable on the individual level, so analogously, a pre-emptive war in the name of self-defense is equally justifiable. Aside from that, it is way more difficult to justify war because historically speaking, most wars have not been due to self-defense, but rather desires of expansion and conquest. Inefficient use of resources notwithstanding, the amount of casualties is certainly does not justify the aforementioned avarice. As such, short of wars in self-defense, I would have to contend that being anti-war is pro-life.

I can continue with other questions such as "Does our definition of 'pro-life' extend to zygotes or animals," but I would rather avoid such contentious topics and bring up a very important factor in this discussion: there is more to this discussion than just the preservation of life, which is a quantitative factor. There is a qualitative argument about, well, the quality of life itself. As Friedman points out in his article, "Respect for life has to include respect for how that live is lived, enhanced and protected--not only at the moment of conception but afterwards, in the course of that life." This makes sense because if you truly care about something, you want it to be the best that it can be.

By the end of his article, Friedman manages to take a jump into the deep end. He goes and says policies such as soda bans, smoking bans in bars, gun control, and climate change legislation are all "pro-life." Essentially, to be pro-life, at least according to Friedman, means support of the nanny state. If we are going to make such qualitative statements, let me assert the following: Capitalism is pro-life. Not only does capitalism give us the freedom to live our lives as we see fit, which helps make it a morally superior option to socialism, but it also historically provided more wealth and prosperity than socialism, mercantilism, communism, or any other economic model based on authoritarian tendencies.

I can definitely write more, but I would say this: Amongst other goals, my blog has been an endeavor of pointing out the flaws of nanny-state socialism and why liberalizing the markets is so much more preferable than letting a bunch of bureaucrats determine how individuals should go about "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness." So if you want more specifics, I welcome you to search my blog because it addresses many issues related to this topic. In the meantime, I will say that if we are serious about being pro-life via the maximization the quality of life, working towards freer markets and increasing [respect for] liberty for individuals to pursue their life goals is the way to go.

I'll conclude with this amusing video about what the world would be like without capitalism:

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