With at least 12 compulsory years in public schools, one would think that most of the twenty-something Wall Street protesters would have some understanding of capitalism, its actual history, and its accomplishments. Well, maybe not. One can only wonder what passes for economic education these days.
So what is capitalism? Free market capitalism is based on the individual right to own and freely trade property. It permits owners of property (land, labor, capital, etc.) to enter (or exit) any contract on mutually agreeable terms. It gives entrepreneurs the freedom to start any business (without government permission) and to borrow money and develop products for consumers. It permits land owners to rent (or sell) their property for any peaceful purpose. It gives adult workers the liberty to lease their services to any business at any agreeable wage and to terminate that agreement at will; employers would have the same right.