Joseph Schumpeter (1883 - 1950)
When I was a kid there was a TV show called "Queen For A Day." While I never watched it, being as I was a young boy, during the show some lucky woman would be lauded with the title of queen, treated wonderfully and received many gifts. She was crowned "queen for a day."
Before capitalism, who were societies' recipients of the best? It was the kings, or other dictators, and those whom they allowed to be rich. If there was another kingdom, king or lord nearby that was similarly rich and powerful, the idea was to wipe them out, take them over and enjoy their stuff. All of it.
Would that gotten gain be distributed throughout the kingdom and make its way to the populace and subjects of the conquering king?
Well, no! Are you kidding? To quote the movie line, it's good to be the king! And the king's men.
But what did capitalism, and free markets, as an ECONOMIC system, introduce to the world, and to individuals (you know, the populace and subjects of the entire realm)?
The ability to act with self interest, voluntarily trading goods and services, and interacting with others so economically entrusted with the ability to act for themselves! The very voluntarism with which they acted regulated all like an "invisible hand." And this "hand" guided them toward greater efficiencies, and wealth.
For the first time in history production generally increased, prices generally came down, wealth was generally created, and, DEMONSTRABLY, all boats were raised by the rising tide of free enterprise! Kings and kingdoms were gradually replaced by gubments, at least by those societies able to make it happen.
Then something radical made the scene. A group of men got together to write into law a Constitutional ability to protect the rights of people, individuals, to do those capitalist, free-enterprise things. And this Constitution was to protect them, and to protect the rights of all of the populace and subjects of the entire realm, from further gubmental tyranny.
And with these freedoms, recognized as God given, people began to act for themselves and were not so acted upon.
The ultimate result of all of that individual, market-guided, and protected voluntary trade of goods and services, a free enterprise, was that all the privileges formerly reserved for kings and queens became WITHIN THE REACH OF AND EVENTUALLY THE EXPECTED staples and consumer goods for all, even the factory workers. Yes, even Dr. Schumpeter's "factory girls" could enjoy silk stockings! And live like queens. Queens, that is, in comparison to those around the world still bound by dictators and who did not yet enjoy the rising tide of free enterprise.
Are there economic strata in a free enterprise system? Of course. That is baked into the cake. Not everyone has the same capabilities and intelligence, drive and dreams, preparation and pluck. But all are free, or made free Constitutionally, to act for themselves and not be acted upon - IF THEY SO CHOOSE!
If society is divided into five levels of income achievement, the very hallmark of a capitalist, free-enterprise economic system is that people continually move in and out of the different strata. Both UP and DOWN. We hear the rags to riches stories all the time. We hear of the rich losing it all to earn it back again, sometimes many more times than once! We hear of "the dream," and in our country we call it the "American dream," of working hard to achieve and rise from one income level to another. Eventually most of us land in the economic level where we are most comfortable, or most capable.
BUT THE GOD-GIVEN FREEDOMS TO ALTER THE ABILITY TO MOVE UPWARD, OR DOWNWARD IF WE CHOOSE, SHOULD NEVER BECOME THE AIM OF GUBMENT CONTROL!
WE THE PEOPLE SHOULD BE IN CONTROL. WE SHOULD BE THE KINGS AND QUEENS OF OUR OWN HOUSEHOLDS.
NOT FOR A DAY - BUT KINGS AND QUEENS ALWAYS.