G. K. Chesterton famously said that “The problem is not capitalism. The problem is that there are not enough capitalists”. This statement relies on a simple premise: that capitalism is primarily about ownership. In the perfect capitalist vision, free individuals can be the masters of their own means of production; working whenever and however they wish, according to their own terms. Free from coercion from any government or huge corporate monster.
A ‘capitalist’ is merely someone who owns their own property and labour. If you own something, you are going to treat it with much more diligence, whereas if the government owns something it is of little worth to you personally. Ownership therefore is conducive to innovation, hard work, pride, and co-operation. The result of this provides consumers with lower competitive pricing and a diverse array of choice in every market. For precisely this reason, our time would be far better spent advocating for a society which boasts wide-ownership of property, instead of advocating for a society which concentrates power on a bunch of rich oligarchs or on a tyrannical government.
However, this vision of freedom becomes hindered significantly the moment we find any government regulation of the economy. When governments – often with good intentions – place limits, tariffs and taxes on Capital, it is usually the little man that suffers. The huge corporations and oligarch-like companies can comfortably afford taxes and tariffs, but the high street butcher is not going to be let off so easily. Any left-leaning or centrist government will impose such taxes or tariffs, conceding to the left’s moaning about economic inequality. But what these governments fail to realise is that cheating people out of their own labour through taxation, regulation and licensing will only create more economic inequality, pressuring them into shutting shop and probably end up working for some newly-nationalised sector of government.
The cacophony of rage over Sadiq Khan’s decision to revoke Uber’s licensing in London is a fine example of how government regulation gives way to cronyism, monopoly, and economic favouritism.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn with London Mayor Sadiq Khan
Uber belongs to the capitalist vision by its birth-right. It started out as a small homegrown business in the barely-regulated software market, and has climbed to the top due to its efficiency and user-friendly nature. Uber is a platform of innovation which brought competitive pricing and on-demand service. It is a fine example of how small ideas can become big, despite the monopoly which was already held over the Taxi Market in London.
However, London’s Labour Government’s decision to ban Uber has not only returned the taxi monopoly to the government-chartered Black Cabs, but it has also cheated so many people out of their own labour, property, and freedom. This is further than a mere regulation of industry, Khan has decided to seize part of the private sector and grant a monopoly to their crony lobbyist pals.
The reality is that London voted for a socialist party, and the beginnings of socialism are what we can see here: mass unemployment, inflation of prices, lack of consumer choice, and a favouritism for one company over a free and open market for all.
For a party like Labour who use the word “Diversity” is if it were part their Apostle’s Creed, they seem to be doing the exact opposite for the citizens of London. They have restricted migrant workers from having easy labour. They prevented a diversity of choice for consumers. However, perhaps most absurdly, they have prevented women from getting home quickly and easily after a night out, now leaving them to wander around the streets of London searching for a ridiculously expensive black cab or an incredibly dangerous public transport ride at four o’clock in the morning. Not what I would call desirable.
Cab drivers cause gridlock in Westminster last year to protest against Uber
Let’s face the facts: the government as nothing other than just a huge corporation. It’s a body of people who operate under limited liability and a separate legal personality. And like many companies, there can be a lot of maladministration. In the majority of countries, the government runs a variety of services; Rail, Health, Mail, Water, Electricity, and so on. It should not be any surprise that the efficiency of these services under collectivist governments are normally terrible. The lack of competition and the total monopoly leads to increases in pricing and a reduction of quality. Take an economics 101 class and you will quickly learn that.
It is for this reason that socialism’s claim of giving “Power to the People” is fallacious. All that socialism has ever given us is power to a disorganised, inefficient, and often tyrannical state. What Labour has done in this case is far from empowering people. Instead, Khan has decided to give two fingers to the citizens of London.
Only free market capitalism can grant power to people, a power that cannot be enjoyed under the shadow of a monopolistic and controlling government. A government should be there to ensure public safety, the Rule of Law and basic provisions for the common good. But rather than regulating and taxing our ownership of labour and property, a government should be facilitating it. Allowing people to control their own lives and live free from economic or political coercion.
By banning Uber, the Labour Party have essentially proved that their slogan “For the many, not the few” is a lie. Cosying up to pressure from their donors to pass legislation is not ‘for the many’. Leaving people out of jobs and hiking the price of transport up is not ‘for the many’. In fact, this entire display only demonstrates that the socialist agenda is completely utilitarian; it claims to act for the common good, and as a result completely shafts the ordinary consumer. That’s not equality and it’s certainly not behaviour we should expect from a government.
The less the government does, the more the people can do themselves. That is why a capitalist society works far better for the many, and not the few.