Firstly, thanks for this well-thought-out piece.
I think, however, that you may be inaccurately describing capitalism.
So what's this Capitalism vs inheritance stuff got to do with the question about a free market solution for the pandemic and economic collapse? Here are my thoughts:
It is my observation that "capitalism" and "free markets" are theories in chaos - nobody knows what they mean with any degree of precision or consistency. Our colleague CPWill gave a crystal clear example in his Lawn Mower Man Gives Large Inheritance To His Children vignette. The first part (though lacking in sufficient context to be really sure) depicts Lawn Mower Man as a the classic self-made entrepreneur - sounds like classic meritocracy at work.
:shrug: it was the ability to live on less than you make and save and invest over long periods of time to build up real wealth and achieve financial independence - including on a low income. It's actually a fairly typical story for the modern American millionaire.
In the second part, LMM undermines free market Capitalism by giving his children an unfair boost in the merit race of life.
.....No. Nothing is undermined by my friend receiving $5K a year for the next 5 years from his grandfather's estate, or, for that matter, if he was receiving $5 million (other than, perhaps, the increased risk to my friend in the latter scenario).
I am inclined to explain this inconsistency as an indication that most people actually think that Capitalism means accumulating and controlling as much wealth as you can, and doesn't really have any coherent, consistent functional philosophy driving it.
I can't argue that this seems to be a popular underpinning fallacy among it's opponents, but, that is not the theory of Capitalism.
If we truly had a governing system of Capitalism, we would strive to make sure that all people had an equal opportunity at the start
That is also
not the theory of Capitalism. Not only can you NOT make sure that all people have an equal opportunity at the start (people will always have different IQ's, different EQ's, some will be taller or more attractive than others, some will have two parents while others are raised by one, etc.), but there is nothing inherent in Capitalism that suggests we should want to try
- ensure that the rules of the game of a meretricious life were the same for everybody, and to provide a cushion for when things go wrong through no fault of the player.
can (and probably should) be bolted on to Capitalism, but, it is not the same as "making sure everyone has equal opportunity at the start".
I think that this view of things gives a great deal of credibility to the "wacky" socialistic notions of a universal basic income, to government provided education, and to universal healthcare. That would be Capitalism with a heart and soul.
....no. That would be the engine of Capitalism trying to pull a massively heavy load of UBI and Single Payer. And, for what it's worth, probably failing.
The present chaotic version of free market Capitalism where the goal is the achievement of "financial independence", independent of the rest of the world and insulated against the spectre of cooperation, is soulless and heartless.
Not at all. In fact, Capitalism has produced more voluntary cooperation than any other system in human history, and more global cooperation across cultures, nations, religions, and races than any other system in human history. Free Trade aligns the individual interests of each of us against the task of serving the others.
Such a "system" has no interest in solving the pandemic or in avoiding economic collapse, since the winners expect that they have risen above it all - "I got mine, it's your responsibility to get yours!"
This is also a false picture of Capitalism. If you had the ability to develop and sell a cure, that is precisely what you want to do. If you have the ability to get a cure into the marketplace so you can go back to production, that is precisely what you want to do. If you can re-secure our supply chains so that we can continue to maximize our ability to increase the standard of living of the American working and middle class by providing them with goods and services at lower costs, then that is precisely what you want to do.
The "I Got Mine!" approach is something I've heard many leftists hurl as a slur, and that I've heard zero people who actually have wealth ever evince.
In closing, I offer you exhibit A: Donald Trump.
Trump isn't a Capitalist or a Free Trade proponent.