|Portabello Road Market, London|
Government and Capitalism
Strictly speaking, government plays little to no role in a capitalist society. However, most examples of capitalist societies include some degree of government control over a nation's land and other resources. In western cultures where governments tax people to provide public education, roads, libraries, and some degree of help for those with limited resources, it is hard to think about life when workers were totally dependent on a wealthy person's charity. Consider the capitalist model for several common goods and services.
In a capitalist society, education is a commodity available in the market place for those who wish to purchase it. If an enterprise owner needs skilled labor, the owner will need to teach the worker those skills, but the worker may be in debt to the owner for the cost of the education. There is no role for government in education. According to wikipedia, the Christian church in Europe mandated in 1179 that cathedrals provide free basic education to boys who could not afford the fee. Public education was provided by the Church of Scotland in 1561 and later supported by a tax in 1633.
Owners need healthy workers. When healthy workers are plentiful, the owners need do nothing about safety and health care. When workers are too few then, owners may need to offer incentives to attract healthy workers. Healthcare may be one benefit offered to attract workers. There is no place for government in healthcare. Europeans were among the first nations to provide health care coverage for some of their citizens such as Germany in 1883 (Sickness Insurance Law) and Britain in 1911 (National Insurance Act). Gradually, Europeans and some other capitalist countries expanded coverage for all citizens.
Private companies build roads as needed. They may charge a fee for others to use their roads. There is no role for governments in building roads in a capitalist society.
Books and reading material are available in the market place for those who can afford such things. Wealthy people may amass large holdings. There is no role for government in providing libraries for the general public in a capitalist society.
Parks and Beaches
Most of us enjoy parks and beaches, but in a capitalist society, land is in private hands and may be developed by owners wishing to charge fees for enjoying time in parks and by the seashore. In capitalist societies, there is often a mix of private and government owned parks and beaches. The first U.S. national park was Yellowstone created in 1872.
You can probably think of other examples where private ownership of resources, good, and services have changed in the last few hundred years toward an increasing role of government to provide services to the public who could not otherwise afford such luxuries. In theory, in a democracy, the people pass laws creating publicly owned lands and resources and demanding taxes to pay for good and services, which the majority of the people desire.
Psychology of Compassion