Ronald Reagan

Reagan Record - A Capitalist Manifesto


On the 150th anniversary of the Communist Manifesto, Merrill Matthews Jr. and Morgan O. Reynolds of the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis have drafted a similarly patterned Capitalist Manifesto -- defining the ramifications of private property rights and the right to contract.

Here are the highlights of their program to end the welfare state and restore individual liberties:

  • Reaffirmation of the right of individuals to rent, sell or use their property however they peaceably choose, so long as they do not impinge on the rights of others.
  • A flat income tax set at the lowest rate compatible with fiscal restraint, and abolition of all inheritance taxes and restrictions.
  • A guarantee of the property rights of all immigrants and dissidents.
  • Withdrawal from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank -- and abolition of all credit monopolies.

Their manifesto also calls for restoration of market prerogatives by divestiture and decentralization of a number of current government functions.

  • Elimination of funding for the Federal Communications Commission and the Transportation Department.
  • Divestiture of state-owned factories or other means of production, such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, Amtrak, the U.S. Postal Service and the Federal Aviation Administration -- as well as the Department of Agriculture.
  • Invigoration of labor through the repeal of unemployment subsidies and minimum wage laws.
  • Repeal of laws that restrict the mobility of capital and labor.

Finally, they would abolish direct funding of public school systems and replace it with tax-supported education vouchers -- to establish competition and restore parents' rights to choose how their children are schooled.

The authors point out that capitalists make their aims explicit, rather than using the stealth techniques common to anti-capitalists.


A Capitalist Manifesto

Note: In February 1848, exactly 150 years ago, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels laid the foundation for modern socialism and communism by publishing the "Communist Manifesto." Their call for overthrowing the capitalists and redistributing their wealth to the working classes eventually became the guiding principle behind most public policy and economic theory. How successful was the Manifesto? Reversing Marx's 10 stated principles, as we do here, will sound radical to many people. Even today, as former communist countries rush to embrace capitalism in the hope of ending generations of tyranny and poverty, many U.S. politicians still cling to the Manifesto's goals. In order to rally those who refuse to stand in the shadow of Marx's legacy of war, murder, class envy and poverty, we offer:


A specter is haunting Washington - the specter of Capitalism. All the powers of the Welfare State have entered into a holy alliance to exercise this specter: President and Cabinet, Daschle and Gephardt, bureaucrats and lobbyists, intellectuals and media.

Where is the champion of free markets who has not been decried as a right-wing extremist or worse by his opponents in power? Where are the defenders of the Welfare State who have not hurled the branding reproaches of being greedy, insensitive and uncompassionate against those of us who oppose ever-increasing taxes, transfers and government programs?

Two things result from this fact.

I. Capitalism is already acknowledged by all socialist powers to be itself a power.

II. It is high time that Capitalists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish our views, our aims, our tendencies, and meet this nursery tale about the specter of Capitalism with a Manifesto announcing its goals.

The theory of the Capitalist may be summed in a single sentence: Protection of private property.

Hard-won, self-acquired, self-earned property! The restoration of bourgeois individuality, bourgeois independence, and bourgeois freedom is undoubtedly aimed at. By freedom is meant free trade, free selling and buying.

You reproach us with intending to reassert property rights. Precisely so; that is just what we intend.

On what foundation is the present family, the bourgeois family, based? On capital, on private gain. The bourgeois family will flourish as a matter of course when its complement flourishes.

And what of your education! Capitalists have not invented the intervention of government in education; but we do seek to alter the character of that intervention, and to rescue education from the influence of the bureaucratic ruling class.

To these ends, Capitalists of various persuasions have acted in concert to sketch the following Manifesto.

1. Reaffirmation of the right of private property and contract, including the right to rent, sell or use the property however the owner peaceably chooses as long as such use does not impinge on the equal rights of others.

2. A flat income tax set at the lowest rate compatible with fiscal restraint.

3. Abolition of all inheritance taxes and restrictions.

4. Guarantee of the property rights of all emigrants and dissidents.

5. Decentralization of credit in the hands of the State by withdrawing from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, and abolition of all credit monopoly.

6. Decentralization of the means of communication and transportation by eliminating funding for the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Transportation.

7. Divestiture of State-owned factories or other instruments of production such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, Amtrak, U.S. Postal Service, and the Federal Aviation Administration; Abolition of the U.S. Department of Agriculture so that the soil may be improved in accord with decentralized, individual plans.

8. Invigoration of all labor through repeal of subsidies rewarding unemployment, and abolition of obstacles to freely made labor contracts such as the minimum wage, that attempt to establish an egalitarian labor force.

9. Freedom for the population to relocate throughout the country by repeal of all laws that restrict the mobility of capital and labor.

10. Abolition of direct funding for school systems, and permitting competition between government schools and private schools for parents' education dollars, which may be in the form of tax-supported vouchers.

A Capitalist revolution that follows these principles would create the most radical rupture in government control; no wonder that its development involves a slap in the face to modern liberalism.

In short, the Capitalists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing collectivist order of things.

In all these movements we bring to the fore, as the leading question in each, the property question, no matter what its degree of development at the time.

Finally, we labor everywhere for the cooperation and agreement of the democratic parties of all countries.

The Capitalists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the peaceable overthrow of all existing principles of the Welfare State. Let the ruling elites tremble at a Capitalist revolution. The people who love free markets have nothing to lose but their chains. We have a world to win.

Capitalists and Workers of all Countries, Compete!

Prepared by Morgan O. Reynolds, Ph.D., and Merrill Matthews Jr., Ph.D., of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute based in Dallas, TX.

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