Capitalism has very much become the boogieman amongst progressives. It has been blamed for causing mass poverty, destroying the environment, and so many other evils in the United States.
Corporations are an even bigger boogieman than capitalism for progressives, They’ve become the number one villain in movies and tv series produced by ultra-liberal Hollywood.
Capitalism deserves none of the blame for the evils that exist in the American economy, and corporations deserve only a partial blame. This is because for the past many decades the economy of this country has been a corporatist economy rather than a capitalism economy. Here is how the Merriam Webster online dictionary defines corporatism:
the organization of a society into industrial and professional corporations serving as organs of political representation and exercising control over persons and activities within their jurisdiction.
In a corporatist economy the government and the corporations are deeply in bed together. The corporations contribute enormous sums of money to politicians who write laws and regulations that benefit corporations. The corporations grow larger and more wealthy allowing them to contribute more money for the writing of more laws and regulations. The end result is that a particular corporation achieves a monopoly in a given industry allowing them to raise prices and provide substandard service without fear of competition.
Crony capitalism is another name for corporatism. Thanks to ObamaCare and so many other laws and regulations, healthcare is one industry ruled by corporatism. This is documented in this Mises Wire article Do We Have a Free-Market Medical System?
I think the most apt description would be “crony capitalist” medicine, one in which powerful special interests conspire with government officials to create legally mandated monopolies, with the specific goal of thwarting free market competition.
The author of the article goes on to say how free market capitalism would solve these problems caused by crony capitalism.
In a genuine free market system, prices reflect the decisions of consumers. Producers who solve significant problems are rewarded with high prices and profits. High prices and profits in turn attract lots of competition. The competition not only prevents monopoly. It also improves quality and very importantly increases supply, which is the only sustainable way to reduce prices. Consumers then get better medicine and ever lower prices. Producers dislike competition, and therefore try to buy government help in manipulating or fixing prices.
There are powerful lobbying groups that exist solely for purpose of ensuring that politicians continue to create an environment that favors large corporations. The Mises article Chamber of Corporatism discusses this in great detail.
Chambers and other lobbying arms of the business community are in the game of socializing their costs and privatizing their profits. Naturally, these groups will seek to lower taxes on their profits, for example, but they will often enthusiastically support statewide income taxes or sales taxes that will cost the larger population plenty, but will disproportionately benefit business groups.
Free Market Capitalism, which built the United States into the most prosperous and freest nation, is far superior to corporatism Here is how capitalism is defined by the Merriam Webster online dictionary
an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market
Capitalism has often been decried by progressives because they claim that system functions on greed. Milton Friedman answers that criticism in the transcript from this video
Well first of all, tell me: Is there some society you know that doesn’t run on greed? You think Russia doesn’t run on greed? You think China doesn’t run on greed? What is greed? Of course, none of us are greedy, it’s only the other fellow who’s greedy. The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn’t construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the automobile industry that way. In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you’re talking about, the only cases in recorded history, are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade. If you want to know where the masses are worse off, worst off, it’s exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that. So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear, that there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by the free-enterprise system.
Progressives have also decried capitalism because it produces an unequal distribution of wealth. That criticism was answered by Milton Friedman in Free to Choose: A Personal Statement
In the past century a myth has grown up that free market capitalism—equality of opportunity as we have interpreted that term—increases such inequalities, that it is a system under which the rich exploit the poor. Nothing could be further from the truth. Wherever the free market has been permitted to operate, wherever anything approaching equality of opportunity has existed, the ordinary man has been able to attain levels of living never dreamed of before. Nowhere is the gap between rich and poor wider, nowhere are the rich richer and the poor poorer, than in those societies that do not permit the free market to operate. That is true of feudal societies like medieval Europe, India before independence, and much of modern South America, where inherited status determines position. It is equally true of centrally planned societies, like Russia or China or India since independence, where access to government determines position. It is true even where central planning was introduced, as in all three of these countries, in the name of equality.
Corporatism on the state or local level produces negative results. This is nothing compared to the negative effects produced by corporatism on the federal level. Laws and regulations on the federal level benefiting corporations should not exist at all. Any laws regulating business are left up to the states only, and all forms of regulations violate the Constitution This is discussed in great detail by James Madison in Federalist 45.