As far as a recognized political system, there are really just two choices: Capitalism or Statism. Capitalism may have the necessary redundancy of laissez faire to mean no State control; Statism means State control in some form and to some degree whether it be private ownership with State dictates (Fascism), private ownership of property but State ownership of production (Socialism), State owning/controlling everything (Communism/Totalitarianism), and all nuances therein such as the newly bandied about private ownership and private production but public risk (Cronyism). In principle, it is this simple: Capitalism versus Statism.
Capitalism is not just a political system. What makes Capitalism what it is, is that it’s a philosophical system first, and politics follow. The laissez faire aspect of Capitalism means that people may choose to act (have the liberty) how they wish as long as it doesn’t violate anyone else’ rights. This leaves people free to accept the risk and reward for their choices. For good or bad, but with no rights violations individuals may act. Others may join in the risk and reward, but they do so by the acts of their own liberty. Capitalism is the liberty to act, and the responsibility for those actions.
To remove the liberty aspect, to mandate any action changes the whole and it is no longer Capitalism that is being discussed, but some form of Statism. It is mutually exclusive as the principle is either we have liberty to direct our lives or we do not, regardless of degree.
It is not Capitalism to have State welfare, individual or corporate. It is not Capitalism to have mandated anything, regardless of how good it may be for us as individuals or society. The banks need to be protected as ‘they’re too big to fail’ is not Capitalism as when the State comes in and buys into the bank to save it, the system has blended Socialism with Cronyism. The same is true for when it is mandated that by existing we have to purchase health insurance, have to put certain warning labels on certain products, have ‘sin’ taxes applied to certain items, have to get permits and licenses to begin or work in a business among various other ways the State deems it can control our interactions.
The principle is clear: we are sovereign in our lives or we are not. This does not give us license to harm another as is a quickly bandied about retort to Capitalism; harming another violates their rights, their sovereign nature. Working at a State-level, we individuals get classified into convenient classes to be pitted against one another and with that classism, and with the State’s approval of ‘helping’ us, it removes our sovereignty and makes us tools to sate someone else’s wants. Where it is wrong to harm another on an individual level, Statism says the harm is part of the ‘greater good’ and it can take an individual’s resources and liberty. If the principle is first not for the individual but that the individual may be dictated against for another, then society is a mass of those who may be commanded to serve another by threat of law: how is that for a greater good?
It is not for the greater good. If the base is not solidly built on individual rights, then the structure of any State is built on sand and it will just be a matter of time before it crumbles.