Just a little note really underlining the point that when we talk about capitalism and markets it’s the second which are the bit that tames the first. The competition to be able to exploit you is what ends up with you not being exploited at all that is:
Aldi and Lidl reduced prices on bags of festive vegetables to just 15p to lure shoppers through their doors in the run-up to Christmas. Over the past decade, the expansion of the discounters squeezed the big four supermarkets’ profitability by about 40%. Aldi and Lidl are still opening about 100 stores a year between them.
That middle sentence there.
Sure, the capitalists would sell your granny back to you if they thought they could make a profit out of it. They’re both greedy and lazy. So, if they can exploit you they will.
But there’s more than one capitalist out there which means there’s competition to gain those profits from your exploitation. That, often enough, becoming immanent by the promise – or even the action – of exploiting you just a little less so that the new rapacious bastard gets 99% only of what the old one did. Rinse and repeat and we find that said greedy pigs end up getting around and about the cost of capital for their efforts.
Which is why the whole system works. Sure capitalism involves people trying to get one over on you. Free markets are what temper their ability to do so. The alternative systems – socialism, government – don’t have that inbuilt limiter on how much you can be ripped off. Which is why the results are always worse for you and me.