marxist vegan restaurant goes bust

This reads like an Onion article, but Heat St. is legit. Like it or not, capitalism works better than the other systems because it takes advantage of our evolved moral framework based on reciprocal altruism — which allows us to formulate win win outcomes based on an even exchange of goods and/or services — and fairness principles about proportionality, which says that people should be rewarded according to their inputs and outputs.

For reciprocal altruism, the exchange may come immediately, or it may be delayed, but ultimately we all engage in it everyday of our lives — from returning that favor to your neighbor to paying off a loan. When someone does not reciprocate, we consider that unfair and call them cheaters and/or free riders. In terms of proportionality, humans also are hard wired to spot cheaters and slackers, and thus we also believe that people’s actions should be rewarded proportionally to their contributions. If I have two doctors, and one works twice as much as the other, it would be unfair to compensate them both the same. If I compensated them equally, then the harder working doctor’s fairness compass (which might be an evolved processing module in the brain) would go out of whack, and she would reduce her effort accordingly.

Certainly, capitalism also has many downsides, which is why we should not be complacent with the system as it is, but rather continuously seek to improve it to minimize harm caused by exploitation, cheating, extreme inequality, and negative externalities like pollution. This is called “ethical capitalism”, which allows for progressive reform, some wealth redistribution and government regulation to keep the system functioning healthy for all involved, not just the titans of industry — but it’s far from a totally new system like communism, which never has worked and never will. I think capitalism is the right system for humans, not because it’s perfect, but because it works best with our evolved nature. By doing so it will continue to create the most benefit for the most people in the long run, even in spite of its downsides. Perhaps the former owners of this vegan restaurant might now agree.

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