Capitalism is one of those esoteric terms in a sense that most people know but don’t understand what it means. Kicking off the year by doing a deep dive into this concept is Jason Rink, award-winning producer and director of documentary films, an author, a marketer, and a self-proclaimed capitalist. Jason talks about capitalism and how it relates to us individually. He also shares how he has come to believe its relevance and the magic it holds when understood properly. Toppling down some perspectives, Jason addresses some of the misconceptions that keep people from having rational conversations with each other about it. He gets down into the entire market economy together with money, trade, and survival as he bakes the fundamental truth and moral dimensions about capitalism that people have to realize.
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Capitalism: Its Fundamental Truth And Moral Dimensions with Jason Rink
This is one of our first episodes for season one 2019 where we are focused on the theme of capitalism. I decided to have one of my good friends, Jason Rink, to join me for this first guest episode. The reason why I brought Jason on is him and I have interacted and I consider him as an individual who understands the philosophy of capitalism better than most. He is a nonbiased party so there’s no institute behind his title or a book behind his title. He represented the concept of capitalism as far as this philosophy is concerned. All the different activities of his professional life in such a manner that this is going to be an invigorating conversation. Jason, you do so many different things. It’s hard to keep track of you sometimes but why don’t you introduce yourself?
First, I just want to thank you for having me on. I’m super stoked to have this conversation with you. I’m honored because your show has been around for so long. You’ve had so many different guests on it, people that I respect. You were telling me about some of the other people coming on this season and I’m like, “I’m surrounded by some giants.” I’m humbled to be a part of this. Part of my career, I was in commercial banking for years. When the bailout started happening in 2007 and 2008 and the financial crisis started to visit upon the US economy, I was working at Chase Bank in the Equipment Finance Division and in Business Banking. It was along that period of time I got introduced to Ron Paul.
I was not a political person at the time, but Ron Paul had some ideas that resonated with me personally. As I started looking into what he had to say about the Federal Reserve and started to say about Austrian economics, I started to get interested in these ideas. At the same time, I found myself here in the belly of the beast. As things started to go south during that 2008 crisis, I started to see, “Some of these things Ron Paul’s talking about are happening all around me.” I felt conflicted as well because here I am working for the Federal Reserve at the big banks. It was during that season of time that I started to dive deep into Austrian economics and monetary policy and some light reading on the side. That set me off on a course of being personally interested in these ideas.
Fast forward, I have a video production company. I’ve worked with a lot of free market-oriented think tanks and organizations because I support what they’re doing. I have done some work in the infinite banking realm with Nelson Nash. At the same time, I do a lot of work with some big brands like Toyota, Mazda and Aston Martin. I’m out in the world. I’m a business owner and I’m a capitalist. I’m out there creating jobs and generating income for my family. I’m applying the principles that I believe about free-market capitalism, sound money, and being smart with how I invest in preserving my capital and all of that. I’m doing it out in real life. It’s the lab for all the ideas that I’ve embraced.
That’s what’s going to be cool about this conversation. It is to talk about what you’re doing and the drive behind it that has to do with anything. Capitalism is one of those esoteric terms in a sense that most people know but don’t understand what it means. They don’t notice what it means as it relates to them individually. I met you during this same period of time at FreedomFest down in Las Vegas, which is put on by Mark Skousen. You at the time were part of the production team at the Tenth Amendment Center.You can't take care of other people unless you take care of yourself first. Click To Tweet
It was 2012 because I had made a movie called Nullification with Tom Woods and Michael Bolden of the Tenth Amendment Center. It was all about the Tenth Amendment and the idea that the States have the right to push back against federal legislation that’s unconstitutional. It’s a controversial idea. That was the first feature-length documentary I ever made. I was at FreedomFest. My film was there and that’s when you and I had got connected first.
I was there at the little film festival that they do as part of the conference and I saw you there. It was that next winter in 2013 where we were at an industry event. I was walking along and I saw you. You had a very distinct glasses and you had a Tony Stark goatee. I was like, “You’re that guy.” That’s when we hit it off and then I saw you again at FreedomFest and from there, we’ve kept in contact. You’re part of the Prosperity Economics Movement that I work with. What links us is the ideas that we’re going to be discussing. That’s our backstory and this is where I want to go with the conversation.
From a very general standpoint, I wanted to talk about how you understand capitalism, why you’ve come to certain conclusions about its relevance, and how magical it is if properly understood. Address some of the misconceptions that are out there. It’s a misconception where people don’t understand it or have this idea about it but it’s a third in line behind religion and politics as far as discussion points. People feel so strongly about it where their emotions take over that belief and you can’t have a rational conversation with anybody about it. That’s how strong this topic is penetrating into the language and vernacular of the United States. I want to get into this confused sense of morality as why there’s this big Bernie push as well as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez push. Why is it so appealing but why it’s the same drive as just the pure sense of capitalism? It’s not that there is a tall order to this conversation.
Let’s see if we could solve this thing and get both sides together hand-in-hand.
How do you understand capitalism and what’s the story behind that?
The word capitalism, people bring with certain understandings or ideas about the word. You can’t throw the word out there by itself. If you throw the word Trump out there, you’re going to get some polarized opinions. If you throw the word Jesus out there, you’re going to get polarized defendants and then all of a sudden there’s this other word, capitalism, and it’s almost as big of a grenade in a conversation. Digging back into my own understanding, I don’t think I ever had a negative perspective personally on capitalism. I was neutral on the idea.
When I started to dig into learning more about money and government, I started to recognize that a way to define capitalism that worked for me is I started to see it as the market or voluntary exchange. When I say the market, I’m even thinking at its smallest sense. When you go into a farmer’s market in a city where you’ve got all of these different entrepreneurs selling their goods: the vegetables, charcoal, toothpaste, candles and soap or whatever it is. The farmer’s market is the purest form of trade. I don’t think there’s anybody out there who looks at a farmer’s market and they’re like, “That’s an evil capitalist thing.” It is because this idea of the marketplace where people come together as buyers and sellers of their own free will voluntarily exchanging goods and services. That seems very normal. That resonates with this all at a human level. That is what I see as the fundamental truth that’s baked into the idea of capitalism.
There are so many different examples that we can cite but I want to reverse engineer the whole idea of a farmer’s market or a market in general where people come to exchange their goods and services. This comes down to the drive there. What’s the initiating drive for someone to go to a farmer’s market?
When we look at human beings and society, we all fundamentally have to find a way to survive and to provide for ourselves and for our families. The fundamental drive here is how am I going to generate the things that I need to live? When you go to that fundamental level, there are a couple of different ways we can do it. The primary way is for me to go out and try to gather together all of the different things that I need to survive, my food, my water, my shelter, all of those things and create them by myself through my own work and through my own hands. What you see is the way that this is developed throughout society logically when you look at how this all comes together. As people gather together in society, it turns out that some people are better at certain things and other things. We find ways to become more efficient. We find ways to become more effective at creating certain things and not other things.
What we do is we start to specialize in making certain things then we trade to other people for things that they create. This whole market economy or the flourishing of certain people specializing in certain skills and products and other people and then finding a way to exchange those things in the marketplace, that coming to life is a function of just trying to find the most efficient way to survive and to care for ourselves and to generate some leisure. Baked within this whole market thing are concepts of money, trade, survival, craftsmanship, and all of these things. That’s where it comes to life. The farmer’s market is the outgrowth of that development. It’s the development of social technology. If you think about what the marketplace is, it is a social technology. It’s something that makes it easier for us to survive on this planet.We are much more likely to survive individually if we gathered together with others. Click To Tweet
If you look at the word that keeps coming to mind, what initiates is people want something. What is it that they want? I’m not even asking them what they want, it’s why do they want it? All human beings we are wired. This is going to sound not politically correct, but we’re wired to do what’s best in the best interest of ourselves. This is the nature of it. The politically correct thing which people look at morality is that we have a stewardship to take care of other people. That’s true to an extent. At the same time, you can’t take care of other people unless you take care of yourself first. The first thing is that the initiating drive is self-interest. It’s you as an individual because people are driven to survive but as you go up through the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it’s not the needs of a society, it’s the personal needs. Those are personal needs which start with physiological then they go to safety then to relationships. They go to self-esteem and to self-actualization. These are all personal needs that we are self-interested in. People are out there, they wake up in the morning and they’re the center of attention.
Even us gathering together in tribes, in groups or in societies is about self-preservation. What we find is that we are much more likely to survive individually if we gathered together with others to help us navigate the world that we’re in and nature. Even this idea of getting together with other people, that’s a self-interested drive that drives us there.
Going through the Hierarchy of Needs, it’s physiological. You need to eat, have some shelter and then you need some safety. What’s after that is relationships. Start with intimate relationships and then going to the communal type of relationships. Other people are a part of our makeup. It starts with us. It starts with our drive and everybody is this way. Everybody’s wired this way. What’s also fascinating is that we all are wired slightly different as to what we think is our best interests. That aligns with unique strengths, unique abilities, talents and so forth. The purest sense of capitalism is what provides us with the opportunity to go out there uninhibited and pursue what is best for us. It’s not like the capitalism word is in the Bible or the ancient scripts. This word came about right as the birth of our modern era toward the Scottish Enlightenment and around the Adam Smith period of time. Also, the Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels who wrote The Communist Manifesto. This is where the idea of capitalism started to be demonized. Also, you have some of the purest writings as far as societal morality with a lot of the Scottish Enlightenment.
Those thinkers gave birth to this idea of what happens to humanity if there is this structure in place in which people can take who they are, what they’re best at and operate for their self-interest. The end result is what provides people what’s best for them, the most selfish thing possible has to be able to provide the best thing for somebody else first. That’s where the confusion is where people are naturally self-interested. We want preservation, we seek all of these needs that I went through. What you pointed out is that as we have a community, most people are self-interested and get what they want. Other people are involved in that process. They’re benefited just as much as the initial individual with they’re trying to meet their self-interest.
We’re self-interested, we’re moving through the world in a way where we are looking after our own interests. However, it turns out that the best route to that is to find how we can create the most value for others in this marketplace. It’s an interesting design. For me, it’s a spiritual concept because I’m like, “This is incredible.” It’s this irony that like, “Here we are breathing out CO2 which is like poison. By the way, there are these things called plants that suck it in and then they generate this oxygen thing out of it. By the way, that’s what we need.” This whole market economy that’s based on, “How can I best serve other people that are going to bring the greatest amount of good back to myself?” It’s a paradox on one hand and on the other hand, it’s like, “Society in humanity has been engineered to function in this way.”
Once you start to see it that way, it becomes a beautiful thing. The Bernie Sanders of the world, they’re not out there railing against the farmer’s market to be clear. They’re railing against a more “complicated form of capitalism.” As our society has changed as it seems, it’s gotten much more complicated. In reality, the same fundamental principle is still at play. There are some new factors that have been introduced. Now we’ve got to navigate around in this marketplace in order for us to achieve those two basic goals and provide the most value to provide the greatest good for ourselves.
I’m going to go to a couple of principals then move to that point. This is where the most confusion exists in regard to the conflict of morality. Adam Smith is most known for his book, The Wealth of Nations. His first book is The Theory of Moral Sentiments. This is where he breaks down that people have a natural drive to understand and be moral. He calls it the impartial observer where there’s this angel on our shoulder when we’re tempted to do something that may be immoral. We think and we ask ourselves. It’s as if we have this observer on our shoulders looking at us and we’re caught in between, “Do I make this decision to do something dishonest or do I be honest and do the right thing?” How do we know it’s the right thing? There’s no board that says, “This is the right thing to do.” It’s like we have that wiring inside of us and then we have this compelling force to do the right thing that he calls the impartial observer.
Most people demonize capitalism because it exploits others where it takes advantage of others where a person benefits by making others worse. That’s where the biggest disconnect. The true nature of a capitalist is going out there, taking a risk and doing it because it meets some level of self-interest but other people have to benefit more so than the person that is creating whatever that goods and services in the first place. When you inhibit that, you inhibit human nature. You look at what stagnation occurs when you don’t allow a person to think and when you don’t allow them to figure things out.
When a person has removed from them the opportunity to figure things out, to survive and to figure out their life, it is one of the greatest harms cause on an individual. It is done all over the place with the banner of doing it as morality and as the right thing to do. The right thing to do is to give this person food and housing. Give them a structure and safety net. That’s not what makes us thrive, even though this confused sense for morality puts us in this where it makes sense. We need to give to them so that it helps them. Giving hand out, safety nets, food and whatever the case may be is where the biggest prevention of where human beings thrive. Maybe we gravitate toward that because you brought up this idea of what capitalism has become, which is more corporatism. Is that capitalism?
The further you go, the more there is the to unpack sometimes. On the one hand, we’ve got this idea at play where people don’t always act morally. People’s self-interest can be directed into a way that generates some negative results in culture and society. This has been a problem that’s been with us for a long time. There’s this balancing act where people left to their own devices will just run roughshod over everybody. If you can be powerful, you can dominate others and you can take advantage of others then, of course, you will. There is this other force at play and it’s from that, that this whole moral argument comes up. How do we best act together as a society and ensure that certain people are taken care of and other people aren’t taking advantage of others? It’s in that context that these discussions about government and the outgrowth of government end up being things like corporatism. Whether or not the government can serve as an impartial entity that can help take care of certain people or certain things. As we start peeling the layers of the onion, there’s all different social dynamics here.The purest sense of capitalism is what provides us with the opportunity to go out there uninhibited and pursue what is best for us. Click To Tweet
One of the books I found most helpful in navigating this whole terrain was The Law by Bastiat. What was so useful about that book and why it’s one of the most important pieces of philosophical writing that I’ve come across is because it forces us to look at this idea of whether or not we, as individuals, can carry out certain actions as moral actions and whether we can delegate the immoral actions to another entity to carry them out on our behalf. When we start talking about this whole idea of morality and whether or not capitalism’s moral or whether or not we’re going to go about taking care of the needs of the less fortunate and things, you’ve got to wrestle with this idea. It’s because most people won’t look at carrying out theft or violence against another individual as a moral idea.
If I were to be violent against you to take something that’s yours and give it to somebody else, as a society we don’t see that as a moral good. Yet there is something that takes place when we take that same activity through a process of democracy or voting. We put it into this thing called government. It is run by people which are populated by flawed individuals. We’re worried about taking advantage of other people and being self-interested in running roughshod and then we just create this thing called a government. It’s supposed to become a neutral good entity that can then carry out what is the same thing, theft, and violence against others.
Somehow there’s a magic that occurs in that process that makes that moral. That feels a little bit of a rabbit trail but what I’m pointing to is this idea that we have a lot of people with different ideas about what government is and what force and violence is. Also, what the role of government is. When we start getting into these ideas about capitalism and the government gets involved in all these things, we start getting into a question about morality. We have some people on the side of the moral argument that says, “We can’t trust people and businesses to be moral. We can only trust the government. People are people and businesses are groups of people and governments are just groups of people.”
We’ve got the same problems all throughout that. What I hear going on in our society around this discussion of capitalism is that it’s more a discussion about who is moral, what institutions are moral, and what institutions have the incentives to be most moral. When we get into that discussion with this dance of me being self-interested yet having to serve and provide the most value in good for my fellow man, that’s accountability and an incentive structure that’s built into capitalism that generates the best out of me. What I see over here in this design of government is that that same accountability doesn’t exist because the government is based on a force. It’s extracting resources from this area and moving them over to this area, which is fundamentally an immoral activity.
You said it was a rabbit trail and I followed every piece. This is the crux of it. In the end, we all have to have an agreement that we as human beings, we’re all here trying to figure out the same thing. We all have flaws and we all make mistakes. The idea is do you try to create a system in which mistakes aren’t possible? That’s where the government goes and that’s where stagnation can be proven time and time again. Do you allow individuals to make those mistakes and then have the structure of the environment in which they’re making a mistake done in a way where the rights of others are as protected as possible?
The system now is very difficult to get away with doing something immoral, especially in a business sense. It’s being done quite often whether it’s hacking or cybersecurity issues or certain fraudulent businesses. Those don’t last very long and are weeded out very quickly because of how we’ve been able to share information. There’s a restaurant that I liked going through on the way into work and also going home instead of Chick-fil-A or other fast food type of restaurant if I have to get something on the fly. It’s like a health food store. I went in there and the Department of Health was in there doing their inspection.
It’s one of those things where it’s like, “If this place served in a dirty way and people got sick from it, they’re going to be out of business.” You have Google, you have Yelp and the word is going to spread quickly. It’s one of those things where the government is trying to play this role of the moral authority saying, “This is good and this is bad. You have to do what we say because we’re protecting people.” I would say, “I get that. It is a good intention but is there a better way to do it where you’re not taking away the rights of others?” I see the intentions of the government in that authority, but I also see the intention of individuals and special organizations. It comes down to what is the best structure to make the most amount of progress and create the most happiness and prosperity possible for humanity?
Maybe there was a time in which there needed to be certain government or some oversight or some protection or whatever. I’ll grant that to somebody. The question is whether or not anything’s changed. What is interesting is when you point to the things such as Yelp where there’s a mechanism for us to govern ourselves. When you think about what hierarchical government emerged out of it was because it was looked to solve some deficiencies in governing ourselves and holding ourselves accountable. I just want to look at how much has changed. You look at something that’s happening with Uber. The normalization of getting into cars with strangers to get rides, which is bizarre. I took an Uber in Uruguay. Years ago, I never would have thought of getting into a foreign country into a stranger’s vehicle, but the mechanism exists now that I can have total comfort in doing that. It’s brought the costs of transportation down. It has granted access to transportation to people who didn’t previously have it. It’s granted opportunities for employment to people who didn’t previously have it. It’s brought together all of these different things and it’s provided a solution. What’s interesting is who’s angry about it.
Who’s the moral authority?
It’s two-fold. On one hand, there is a company called Uber that’s got some things that they’ve developed. There’s also a function that empowers me as the rider and the driver to rate each other about that experience. There are a series of different checks on what’s happening within it. It’s not been put together by the government. The only thing that I’m seeing that’s top down in it is the company and they can only carry out the function if they’ve got the margins to do it.The further you go, the more there is the to unpack. Click To Tweet
The moral element too is that if Uber wasn’t doing the right thing, they’d be out of business but they’re also providing a service. The reason why you were comfortable with it is that of the internal makeup of the feedback system, of that feedback loop. If you are in Uruguay and all drivers have one star, are you going to get a ride or are you going to go in a taxi or are you going to walk? There’s a built-in impartial observer that is saying, “You have to do the right thing. You’re not going to kidnap Jason and take $100 out of his wallet because the cost of doing that is so much more. What you gain from it is so much less than what you would gain by doing the right thing.”
You touched another aspect of this moral dimension, which is competition. Uber’s had a little bit of a rocky road because their CEO has run into some allegations about sexism in the workplace and some other things. Those may or may not be true or whatever. I don’t know the details but what I do know is that he was removed or stepped down as CEO. Lyft, on the other hand, started picking up a whole lot of more share in the marketplace. Here’s this other company that holds the whole thing accountable. They see an opportunity where like, “We can be better. We can be better people. We can run this company different.” That is not something you have to hold government accountable frankly.
You don’t because there’s no competition.
At the heart of capitalism is this other thing that’s brutal and it’s called competition. It is a force of nature. It eats the company’s and people’s lunches. It’s a force of moral good to make sure that the greatest value for the greatest number of people in the way that the market demands it.
There’s such a strong presence of what humanity is capable of but there are so much wisdom and potential in our minds. The issues and the challenges that exist now, whether it’s healthcare or nutrition, you can start to list all the different calamities that are out there. If there’s a problem, you would assume that there is a solution but in order to accomplish that solution, another person has to come up with that. The structure to best do that has always been the incentive a person has to do what’s best for themselves by first doing and figuring out a way to be of value to somebody else. The more of that exists and the quicker, we’re not only going to solve the existing problems that we have. There’s going to be more overall prosperity but here’s the deal. What did we solve in regard to problems? You solve the problem of people dying when they’re 35 or 40 years old and you created industrialism where you started to have more progress in society but there are other problems that occurred despite that. Those problems were solved and then there were more problems once those problems were solved and so on and so forth.
It’s always going to be part of the human experience. There are always going to be difficulties. There are always going to be challenges because we’re humans and we have that side of us. At the same time, the ultimate solution to that is right up in the mind of an individual. It’s the ideas they come up with and the incentive that they have to bring those ideas to the marketplace. When you inhibit and stifle that incentive, that is where the system breaks down. I’ll cite one example and then we can get into the other side which is the confused sense of morality. One of the examples I saw is when Facebook was put on trial. They went to Congress and had to explain to Congress certain elements of how Facebook worked. For better or for worse, has Facebook done some stuff they shouldn’t have done? Yes. They’ve done a tremendous amount of good. That wasn’t celebrated.
The good that they did as far as connecting the world wasn’t celebrated. What they were able to do as far as connecting families and connecting businesses and creating community accountability, that wasn’t celebrated. It was, “You’re taking people’s data and you’re taking private things,” which granted, that’s something that they did. The lack of understanding of what Facebook does was so surprising to me in the questioning. It was going back and forth of Zuckerberg not explaining what the whole privacy issue was about but having to explain what his business was. It just shows the complete disconnect of those type of individuals in that they’re not coming up with solutions. They are playing the role of God telling people what they should and shouldn’t do coming from a fallible place. That’s the idea of this morality. Is it moral for one infallible person to tell another to do or for an infallible person to figure out ways in which to provide value for others?
When we look into the different areas where most people are going to say that capitalism has failed or where we’re experiencing the negative impact of capitalism, when you start looking into most of the sectors that are being discussed, they tend to be the sectors that are most heavily regulated or that government has created the strongest cartels. You start getting into this whole other dimension of things that people don’t talk about which is this idea called regulatory capture. This idea that government or a body that oversees something, there’s an incentive to then capture that governing body and influence it for your own purposes.
This is one of the things that we saw when the mortgage crisis started to unfold. It turned out that the entities that were supposed to be rating the different bonds were paid off. They’re receiving fees from the people they’re supposed to be overseeing and that creates some other outcomes. In America, it’s been a long time since we haven’t been the richest nation on the planet, at least on paper. I don’t know what the P&L looks like. When you go to places where people have been living on under $1 a day and you start looking into the transformation and the human flourishing. The access to opportunity and capital that is happening in places where people had been living on under $1 a day and now those people and nations are rising over the last years.
The data shows that it has everything to do with the loosening and the expansion of opportunities that we’re defining as capitalism marketplace, being able to voluntarily exchange. In most of those places, it’s been the forces of government or cartels or the destruction of the value of the money that’s been making that prosperity be nothing but a dream. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders, they can talk about how bad we have it here in America and how bad capitalism is and something needs to be done because of the 1%. Everybody having that conversation in the United States is in the global 1% and always has been. It’s only because we’re so rich and prosperous and the fact that capitalism and human ingenuity can outperform and out create the forces that try to keep it at bay. We have the luxury to even talk about these ideas while the rest of the world is trying to figure out how to get out of those first couples of stages of the hierarchy of needs.Life is always going to be challenging because we're humans. Click To Tweet
Why are the emotions so high than when it comes to these ideas? Why do yelling and screaming and emotional tirades seems you can’t have a rational conversation? Why are they so high?
Part of it is because they’re as good as it is. There is a problem and I do believe that there is an unlevel playing field in America and people see it. Some people are feeling that maybe in some areas it is more difficult to become wealthy to achieve the American dream and all of these things. Most people are not informed and they’re not educated. Most people are busy trying to work their jobs, care for their families and get a little bit of leisure time on the weekends. They’re not diving into Mises, Hayek, Bastiat and Adam Smith.
When the capitalism label is placed on the most visible people in organizations that are the richest in the nation, the label is misapplied. Most of the richest in America have taken advantage of regulatory capture in ways that aren’t necessarily good. People see that but they don’t see how it’s happened. The capitalism labels misapplied. It’s used by people in the media who have an agenda to try to demonize it and who wants to empower the government for certain other things. It’s an uneducated population in my estimation that doesn’t know the difference. That’s where the emotions get high because some people are struggling and envy is at play.
There’s nothing easier than us to look at somebody who’s got something we don’t have and for us to think that they’re doing something to get it. At the same time, there are things at play that have shifted the playing field away from the average person and the middle-class individual that needs to be addressed. It doesn’t need to be addressed to redistribution through government because that’s where the problem originates. People don’t want to look there. It’s easier to look at the corporate boogeyman than it is to look at the ballot box or it is to look at democracy, which we hold in such high regard.
The danger of this topic is you can go in so many different directions. I want to recap what you said and make a few comments. I want to pivot some influential things. You’ve already mentioned The Law by Frederic Bastiat and have some influential whether it’s books, people, podcasts that help you understand some of these principles. You’ve come to have a belief in a perspective of things that are atypical. You talked about playing field and also where things seem unfair and I look at the opportunity and also what people have. The opportunities that people have now are a lot more even than they’ve been in the past because of what people have access to.
I was watching something where this guy, he wasn’t a trained chemist or physicist. He spent years doing it, he discovered how to extract sugar from plants that would replace the sugar that we have but also would create biofuel. He spent years doing it and came up with it and felt so strongly about it. It took him a number of years to get very prominent people on his board. Here’s a guy who didn’t graduate from MIT or didn’t graduate from Harvard and get an MBA or have a doctor or PhD behind his name. He went out and figured things out and used the resources that were available to him and created something amazing. They’re saying it’s going to revolutionize just food, fuel and emissions. My point is people are all wired differently. If we agree to that, not everybody’s going to have the same life. Why would you want the same life? It’s all different. I see some of the things that come from us being in this communication-rich society where we see others, we see their life, and we see what they have. We see the things that they do and there’s envy there. The thing is there’s never going to be equality when it comes to what people have. The equality is always going to be in the environment in a sense, but people are all different. How you’re wired to bring value to the marketplace isn’t who you are right now but it’s who you develop yourself into.
This guy spent years doing it. He just didn’t wake up one morning and suddenly he’s going to become a billionaire. There was so much that went into that. The development of his passion and skills and strengths, his drive to go out there and create an organization and create community and hire people, there was so much effort behind that to provide value in the marketplace. That’s where I would say there’s this use of equality where the rich have all of this and you don’t, and you’re entitled to that. They shouldn’t have that, you should have that. This goes to politicians and people playing God that they’re not fallible and they’re going to come to figure out the best way to distribute all the different resources. It’s such a toxic thing where you lob humanity in a sense and that goes on because it is occurring. Money is taken from people involuntarily and distributed to different programs, which in a sense looks so inhumane. Why wouldn’t we give them food stamps or why wouldn’t we provide housing for them? I agree that there are certain circumstances but at the same time, people are wired to figure life out. They’re not wired to have things done for them where they just sit in their house and do nothing.
There are exceptions for this. The best thing that’s happened for me is being on the brink of poverty, being on the brink of bankruptcy. Being on the brink of not being able to feed my family. If everything was taken care of for me, I would never have learned anywhere near the lessons that I’ve learned. This is where we all have to as far as capitalism understand how powerful it is. We all have to understand that we’re all fallible. We all have to understand that there’s no such thing as perfect in this life. This doesn’t exist and it’s never going to exist in government’s and it’s never going to exist with pure capitalism.
At the same time, what is the most humane thing to do and what is the fairest? The fairest is to protect people from their natural rights, the life, liberty and property but at that same time, the problems are not on the shoulders of government to figure out. Problems in the purest sense when it comes to capitalism are for individuals to operate in a system where their mind works. They can come up with ideas and there’s friction in that process. Look at what we have seen in humanity over the last 50 years or even the last ten years and how much that’s improved our lives. It all originated from an idea in a person’s head and them acting on that idea. There are these principles of capitalism wired into our society but at the same time, there’s a big force against it which is trying to rob some of those liberties. That was how I looked at some of the things that you said. You have some of the final comments and words and then talk about some of the more inspirational things that have helped you understand this perspective that you have and we both share.
I saw an article where it was like, “Fidel Castro’s grandson’s Instagram feed was felt like leaked.” He’s on yachts and hanging out with babes and he’s living in Europe. What’s been generally true is that in societies where these more collectivist, socialist type of economic policies have taken root, there’s almost always a class of people who sit on top of that system. They live exactly like the people that were being demonized in order to get that system put together. We’ve got a lot of examples we can look around at in the world with what’s going on in Venezuela, Cuba, or whatever. We’ve got the ability to see what’s happening in other places. I just hope that we can see and look at the lessons of other countries and other times and use that to discern where we should go as a society.There's nothing easier than looking at somebody who's got something we don't have and think that they're doing something to get it. Click To Tweet
It brings us full circle back to the film I made, Nullification. When we start getting into these issues, Nullification was very much about this idea of federalism. The more personal the problems we have as a society are, the more local the governance and the more localized the policies are. We should wrestle through those problems instead of looking to establish one-size-fits-all legislation and policies to go over 330 million people in one country. In that whole process, as more and more power has been sucked up to Washington DC, we’ve lost a lot of community and humanity in our own cities, neighborhoods and towns.
The front porch communities of old don’t exist much anymore. We don’t know our neighbors, and this is all related to the idea of how we are designed to be our brother’s keeper. It is for us to take care of one another and to look after one another from a voluntary sense and not only through capitalism. Capitalism is the way but there is something in us that we are wired to care for those in our tribe. I see a lot of what’s going on as a result of a breakdown in that. I see the tribalism that’s happening on the national political level and the ugly politics. All of that comes back to remind me that ultimately we are responsible for our own humanity. We’re responsible for the way in which we carry ourselves and demonstrate the moral code that we would like to see demonstrated by others. It’s the most fundamental idea.
I’m on the board of an organization called the Libertarian Christian Institute. We have a podcast as well and we’ve had 100 episodes. Part of what’s driven us as an organization and me to be a part of it is because we want to talk about the ideas of capitalism from a very moral Jesus-centered perspective. When I think about what’s influenced me, I am very influenced by the Bible in the treatment of money and in the treatment of capitalism. The word doesn’t appear but a lot of principles of capitalism are very evident. If you had Larry Reed on, he could say about that. The book that he puts out, Was Jesus a Socialist? is a great little book to read on this idea.
The other things that have impacted me are talking with other entrepreneurs. As I become an entrepreneur, as I’ve seen what that takes, I’m a believer that not everybody is designed to be an entrepreneur. We’re all wired differently. I’ve talked to more and more entrepreneurs and learned more about who’s out in the world creating businesses. I echo your sentiment that there’s never been more opportunity and I also believe that the more entrepreneurs you’ve talked to, the more you can see them as true heroes. Entrepreneurs are creating value, they’re creating jobs and new ideas that as a society and as a world, we are solving all of the problems together for one another. That’s what’s inspiring me to spend time looking at, reading about and talking to other entrepreneurs. Also, the people who are capitalists that are out in the world to see what they’re up to and the problems that they’re solving in society.
One of the things that you said that resonated is echoed from The Theory of Moral Sentiments, that original work by Adam Smith where people are driven. That’s this innate thing that we have to take care of one another. However, doing it involuntarily, being forced to take care of somebody else, you don’t have that same drive and it goes to Christianity where are the two greatest commandments. Those commandments of loving, it’s loving others but also loving others as we love ourselves. It incorporates the idea of understanding ourselves and our role in society and humanity. Capitalism is not this high-level thing that’s associated with a society or a country. It’s very individual and if you understand what those principles are, it could give you a different perspective on what you do on a day-to-day basis. Understand your relationship with yourself but also understand your relationship with others and how others help you but how you could potentially help others.
From a group side of things or a bigger picture, understanding these principles and then aligning yourself with other individuals does help our community and our society adhere to them on a higher level more so than there exists now. People are not reading, they’re not thinking, they’re not having conversations around these types of macro topics. It’s around the very superficial thing that allows the creeping in of the ideas of being forced to be moral. It’s that Robin Hood mentality where you rob from the haves to give to the have nots because they don’t have, and we should take care of them. We won’t go down that rabbit trail, but I’ll give you the final word.
Patrick, I’m going to take an opportunity to plug you a little bit. One thing that needs to be true is people need to take responsibility for their own financial autonomy. People need to surround themselves by other people who can help them to become more autonomous and more in control of their own financial future, destiny and access to the capital that they need to be able to fulfill on whatever the dream, the idea or the mission is that they’ve got out there. At the heart of all of what we’re talking about, I would see it as very immoral for me to ever throw up an obstacle in the way of somebody else trying to fulfill on what they believe their mission, purpose and calling is in this world.
It turns out that often that has to do with the work that we do in the world because we’re wired for service. The work that you’re doing in the Prosperity Economics Movement, the work that you’re doing through Paradigm Life, I see that as something that empowers and grants people the tools. Not only the tools of knowledge but real financial tools to be able to achieve those things and to become an entrepreneur, to become a steward of the resources they have. Whether it is to give, to solve the world’s problems through entrepreneurship or whatever it is, they can be the captain of their own destiny. That’s all I got to say. I enjoy the time we can speak together. I wish you the best.
Thank you. We’ve known each other for several years and you have some incredible creative talents and you’ve been able to own it. You were doing a little freelance stuff here and there when we first met but mostly working for others. You’ve taken the entrepreneurial calling that has been inside you for a long time and you owned it. You took some risks and went out there and you’ve been incredibly successful. If anyone wants some video or marketing work done, Jason’s your man. It’s JasonRink.com and they can follow you in your social media where you’re very active. Jason, you’re the man. Thanks a ton for being on and having this cool conversation with me.
Make sure you stick with us because we have some more scintillating information and conversation about capitalism. Take care.
- Jason Rink
- Prosperity Economics Movement
- The Communist Manifesto
- The Wealth of Nations
- The Theory of Moral Sentiments
- The Law
- Libertarian Christian Institute
- Libertarian Christian Institute Podcast
- Was Jesus a Socialist?
- Social media – Jason Rink on Facebook
About Jason Rink
Jason Rink is an award-winning producer and director of documentary films, an author, a marketer, and a self-proclaimed Capitalist. Prior to starting his own company, he spent 10 years in commercial banking, and four years as a producer and director at Emergent Order, a creative agency in Austin, Texas. Jason has worked with Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss, Congressman Ron Paul, Senator Rand Paul, and brands such as Aston Martin, the Charles Koch Institute, and Mercer.