Op-EdAppeared in Washington Examiner on January 9, 2023By Alfredo Ortiz

Capitalism is the way to address racial inequality

California’s race reparations task force is currently deliberating the size of financial payments to be redistributed to black state residents. The Golden State’s reparations push is just the latest instance of liberals’ uniform belief that the only way to overcome persistent racial economic divides is through big government.

This effort comes on the heels of two years of racialized policies from congressional Democrats and the Biden administration, including the failed attempt to distribute COVID-19 aid based on race.

In reality, the best way to close racial income and wealth gaps is by expanding economic opportunities through the free market. Ironically, the very same free market that liberals want to curtail, regulate, and rule over in the name of addressing racism is the most potent antidote to racism. Capitalism financially punishes racial prejudice. The business owner who refuses to hire and promote people on merit, no matter their race, will soon fall behind competitors who do. The entrepreneur who refuses to deal with suppliers who offer the best products at the best prices, independent of their race, will be out-competed by those who do.

This nation’s free market economy is unique in that it brings people from all backgrounds together in a melting pot of economic success. People from countries and backgrounds where subjugation is common quickly learn to put away their historical animus in favor of economic success. Only under capitalism are people treated as individuals based on merit and productive capacity, not on immutable characteristics such as race. As a result, America is one of the least racist countries in the world.

It’s no surprise that racism is correlated with the amount of government control in a country. For instance, in France, where the government has far more control over the economy than in the U.S., Arab minorities often face racism and cannot get jobs in the country’s notoriously regulated labor market. As a result, many languish in French slums known as banlieues. As another example, India’s rigid caste system consigns those born as “untouchables,” who generally have darker skin, to a lifetime of poverty. Even today, about half the members of this caste work in sanitation because they are believed to be inferior.

Race merchants and Democratic politicians threaten the incredible antiracist force of the free market with their racial equity proposals. Their desired programs, such as race reparations, affirmative action programs, racial government contracts, employment quotas by race, etc., would turn the country into the racist dystopia they claim already exists. Socialist policies abrogate individual rights — i.e., true protections for the smallest minority — to competing pressure groups fighting each other over the redistribution of resources.

Recommitting the country to capitalism will close racial gaps in two ways. First, it will create a vibrant economy that allows entrepreneurs to fulfill their dreams. Second, it will greatly reduce racial animus by treating people as individuals, not merely representatives of racial groups. Those who sacrifice capitalism in an effort to attain greater racial economic equality will get neither; those who prioritize the free market will get both.