Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Is Socialism Superior to Capitalism?




The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil... I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy
                                                               Albert Einstein (1949)



    Today I wanted to talk about some issues that I have been thinking about over the past week. While not having a very direct relation to religion or atheism, I thought it would be best to introduce it here rather than another blog or forum because I would like to get your views about it. Most of you being atheists, I feel that I can safely say that your beliefs and arguments will be more based in reason than those of another audience.

    What I've been wondering recently is whether capitalism is truly the best economic system in terms of supplying the goods that we need to live and be happy and in providing a stable future for humanity. To many of you, as it did to me a short while ago, this idea probably seems blasphemous and ridiculous. Throughout middle and high school education in America, we are constantly told that capitalism is the best system and that it is the only economic system compatible with freedom. I even felt guilty when I began to doubt capitalism, as if I had done something wrong. The feeling was similar to how I remember feeling when I first started to doubt the existence of god. But I've been thinking recently, is it really such a surprise that in a society like ours where the wealthy effectively rule the country that our society would also value the system that serves as the source of their power?

    I should note that I am by no means an economics professor. In addition to that, I've only been thinking about this for a short while, and because of this I intend for this post to be more of a call for opinions rather than a statement of which is best. Because I honestly don't think I've thought about it enough to make statements like that yet.

    My education is, however, in physics and math. My first doubt of capitalism resulted from an idea of thinking that we employ a lot in physics to test solutions. We often test the viability of a solution to a problem by "taking limits". For example, if I'm calculating an electric field and I get an answer I can test my answer by taking certain limits on it to see if it is consistent with what I know to be true. If I know that the electric field must go to zero when the observation point is far away from the source, I can evaluate my answer in that limit and see if it exhibits the correct behavior. If it does, then perhaps I have the correct solution. If it doesn't, I better try something else. It is an argument of this sort which stimulated my first doubts in capitalism.

    Let us flash forward to the (potentially) not-so-distant future. I think it is easily arguable that robots and machines will do a great deal of our physical labor. In fact, I would expect robots to do all jobs that didn't require human creativity (art, science, engineering, writing, etc). The robots themselves could even be built by other robots. Machines will fly our planes, till our land, clean our floors, prepare our food, serve in the military, etc. Because of this there would be massive unemployment I believe, probably over 90%. How would a capitalist economy manage this? Would it allow 90% of the population to starve? Shouldn't technology like robotics make life easier for all rather than deprive many of jobs while enhancing the profits of a few? I am not sure that I can see how any economic system besides socialism could provide for a future like this. So if capitalism fails in this limit, perhaps it is not the correct solution. To be fair, it could be true that different economic systems are better suited for different stages of human development. I have not had much time to put much thought into this.

    Now, like I said, this isn't supposed to be an argument for socialism per se, simply an asking of a question. I haven't even defined socialism. I'm not really interested in posting arguments for socialism or against capitalism because they tend to be long and complicated if you want to be complete, but I would like to clarify one thing so that any discussion will be more fruitful. The collapse of the Soviet Union is not a blow to the promise of socialism. Socialism entails control of society's resources by the people and in order for this to happen, it must also be able to democratically elect its government and the citizens must have personal freedom. The USSR was not socialist and although it doesn't really matter for this argument, neither was it communist (as envisioned by Marx). North Korea then, is also neither of these. The wealth of North Korea is not for its people, but for Kim Jong-il and his military. From what I've learned thus far we've never had a true socialist nation on earth to use as an example.

    So please, discuss! I'd like to hear your thoughts. Here's another resource if you'd like it.

41 comments:

I Am said...

From what I've learned thus far we've never had a true socialist nation on earth to use as an example.

I doubt that it's possible. Humans are selfish. In fact, I would go so far as to say 100% selfish. I have long believed that no one every does anything that isn't motivated by self-interest. Any seemingly selfless behavior you see, such as giving to charity, doing a favor for someone or rescuing a child from a burning building can be reduced to selfish motives. People do these things to feel better about themselves, to demonstrate superiority to others or to get into heaven. I'm not saying this is (always) conscious or even negative, but that's just how it is. Capitalism uses human nature to drive it, as a practitioner of Jujitsu uses his opponent's momentum against him. Socialism tries to fight human nature, so it's untenable.

boywonder said...

I couldn't have said it better myself. Delta, your and I Am's assessment is just how I've thought about this. The interesting thing is, I've never heard anyone else articulate these ideas. It really does seem like a taboo to question capitalism. I think there are strong word associations with the term capitalism. I think of communism and spreading western democracy off the top of my head. Is this a reflex action to history? WW2, the cold war, McCarthyism, communist China, etc. pounded home the need to believe capitalism is superior. Think otherwise and all hell will break loose. I'm going to be skewered for linking this to religion, but I must admit there are some similar ideologies going on here. Plus Christianity (and others to a lesser degree) reaps huge benefits from the way our system is set up. No taxes, freedom to worship, donations, faith-based initiatives, grants, etc. Christianity may not be responsible for this outcome, but it is living high off of the hog from it nonetheless. Communist Russia declared atheism as its official stance mainly, I believe, to lessen competition and subvert power.
Delta's question begs the question (yes I know, a fallacious argument) can mankind ever live together without the need for physical violence or the threat of it? We know we will never agree on everything let alone most everything. If left unchecked, Capitalism will be the right hand of god in helping to unite and conquer the world through Christianity.
The socialism you speak of wouldn't work unless there was a dramatic shift in human thinking and attitude towards each other. If that happens over time, I would be more inclined to call it a utopian society.

boywonder said...

BTW, I thought I would let you guys and gals know about "Guns, Germs, and Steel" by Jared Diamond. It doesn't deal with captalism on its own, but takes a very broad overview of how things came to be the way they are as far as how different civilizations dominate one another and why. It came out in '97, but was just re-released recently. There was also a documenteary on PBS of it. This just seemed to relate to the topic at hand.

Delta said...

In response to I AM, I agree with you that humans are selfish and probably are completely motivated by self-interest. Capitalism does harness this energy of self-interest but I think it does it in a way which is competitive with others, so that someone wins and someone loses. However, you mentioned yourself the selfish desire for people to feel better about themselves. Couldn't this desire be harnessed by socialism in that people would contribute to society so that they could feel good about themselves? Could people not be given a grand vision of mankind's civilizational progress and want to contribute to it in order to selfishly feel better about themselves? Or, in the very least, could we convince christians that doing the work "glorifies god"? I'm partly kidding on that last part.

To boywonder, I'm glad to hear that you've thought some of these things too. I agree that the same idea of "think differently and our civilization will crumble" is inherent in both capitalism and christianity. And perhaps you are right about a shift in public thinking being necessary, but I think it could be possible to shift public thinking very quickly if need be. If you raise a new generation of children to look out for the common interest and how important (and personally rewarding) it is to contribute to society, perhaps this shift could be achieved nearly overnight. Guns, Germs, and Steel was actually one of the first serious, nonfiction books I ever bought. Unfortunately, I believe I got really busy with school and didn't finish it, but I remember it being very informative. I'd like to go back and look at it again when I have time someday.

Pyro_Shark said...

In my opinion, capitalism is really what has caused most of the problems we are in today. Capitalism is enherently (sp?) evil. In my perfect world we would have small communities goverened by socialism. If you've ever read The Giver, something like that, but prehaps not as extreme where all your decisions are made for you.

BEAST said...

Neither socialism nor capitalism can function efficiently in its purest form.

Socialism requires 100% selflessness, plus major sacrifices from the masses.

Capitalism is the complete opposite, since corporations replace tyrannic kings and corrupted despots in looting the masses via commercialism.

The best answer to both is a moderate form of capitalism/socialism.

I Am said...

it does it in a way which is competitive with others, so that someone wins and someone loses.

That's just another part of human nature. People like to win. More to the point, they like to win zero sum games. Add up the earnings of all the major league sports for a real perspective on just how powerful this drive is.

Could people not be given a grand vision of mankind's civilizational progress and want to contribute to it in order to selfishly feel better about themselves?

Seriously? No. In addition to being selfish, people are stupid. Do you really believe you could get a critical mass of people to understand such an abstract idea? The only way I can think of to do it would require ::gasp:: religion.

beast:
My US History teacher from High School wrote in my yearbook one of the wisest things I think I've ever heard. "Don't stray too far to the right or left. The truth is in the middle."

Delta said...

Socialism requires 100% selflessness, plus major sacrifices from the masses

I don't think it requires all that much selflessness. I, like other human beings, am probably 100% selfish, yet I would love to do something like this, even if it were only to make me feel good about myself. Using me as an example for a second. I chose to be a physicist. But if I was purely interested in my own "capitalistic self-interest" I would have been a business major and would have made a great deal more money for much less effort and work. So why did I choose to be a physicist? A large part of it is probably so that I can contribute something lasting to society, in effect immortalizing me through my contribution. And why do I care about this? Probably because I want to feel good about myself. So I think that this "feel good about yourself" motive is definitely real and can be used to make socialism work.



In addition to being selfish, people are stupid

I don't think that they are necessarily so stupid so that they can't comprehend an idea. Maybe not come up with it themselves, but I think they could grasp it. I think that intelligence is mostly due to how people are raised and how good their teachers and role models are. If we could improve the education system and the environment for young children I think we could have a much more intelligent lot to deal with.

"Don't stray too far to the right or left. The truth is in the middle."

I'm surprised that you feel that this is so wise. It would be, I think, in a world where reason ruled. If the truth was x, and people with bias on the right believed x+dx while people on the left with bias believed x-dx, you could average over them to get the truth (although I don't think that making a habit of forming your beliefs depending on what others believed is really the best route to go). But we know that this "middle ground" is not usually correct. Take religion. The middle ground for the religious debate is probably moderate christianity. We are sooo far "left" in that debate that we're really off the charts, yet we are the ones most likely to have a correct worldview. When the center of the religious debate is incorrect, I don't think it would be that surprising if the center of the political debate was incorrect also.

Rick said...

Delta said:

"If the truth was x, and people with bias on the right believed x+dx while people on the left with bias believed x-dx, you could average over them to get the truth "

I love to argue things in the domain of math... its HOTT!

I tend to differ from your opinion though. The truth is not out there, or in the middle. There is no 'x' which marks the spot of truth. Its P(x), the probability of truth. if you want to maximize P(x), i.e. max[P(x)] would be...wait a minute, let me put my thoughts on paper first. I'd post a mathematical approach as I see it in the evening, prolly on my blog cause it would be too lengthy for a comment.

I Am said...

I think that intelligence is mostly due to how people are raised and how good their teachers and role models are.

Don't confuse stupidity and ignorance. Better education makes people better informed and gives them a different perspective from which to view the world. It doesn't make them smarter. I truly believe that the majority of humans have very limited capacity for conceptual thought. I don't have anything to back that up. It's nothing but a belief.

I'm surprised that you feel that this is so wise.

First, I mean this (and believe he meant it)purely politically. Religion is a separate matter. It's a matter of pure true and false.

Second, the truth isn't always (or even often) RIGHT in the middle. It's rarely all the way at one of the extremes, though.

Third, rather than applying this to individual issues, I've always taken it as a general warning against ideology. I would never hold a view simply because "my party" holds a view. Many people enter a voting booth and vote party line like mindless automatons. I recognize that left and right both have valid points. Neither group has a monopoly on truth. I think the Democrats (usually) have the right idea on social issues and the Republicans (used to) have the right idea on fiscal issues. In economics, I think it's the same thing. The hard line Socialists and the Laissez-Faire Capitalists are both right and both wrong. In my analysis, though, the "optimal point" is much closer to the capitalist extreme.

Delta said...

There is no 'x' which marks the spot of truth. Its P(x), the probability of truth. if you want to maximize P(x)

I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't agree with you on that because I don't know how you can argue that there is no truth. We might never know the pure truth, but surely it's out there. To be clear, I'm talking about objective truths, not some sort of "right" and "wrong", which of course there is no standard for. Your probability idea reminds me somewhat of quantum mechanics. We might only be able to express a probability of a particle being at position x, however, we do not doubt that a position x exists. I look forward to your post though.

I don't have anything to back that up. It's nothing but a belief.

Neither do I. Conversations between atheists are generally so much better because we can be honest about when we don't know something for sure.

I've always taken it as a general warning against ideology

Totally agree with you here. While I think I could endorse socialism over capitalism and still not be restricting myself to one particular set of beliefs, I would never fully endorse any particular socialist organization's views. Any possible socialist model that you could find on the web, if it attempted to be very specific, would probably not be the optimal solution. Everything is open to criticism. Nothing should be followed blindly.

Dave said...

Socialism is unsustainable. Just look at the economies of Europe. I suppose you are right to suggest that capitalism is evil. It's allowed first world Westerners to live comfortable lives, sit at the computer all day, and complain about how blighted their existence is.

Rick said...

On my blog I have attempted to have a concise yet sufficient explantion of why I feel truth is probabilistic and not deterministicTruth: Deterministic or Stochastic

Feel free to tear it down. It was an amateur attempt and more feedback i receive, the better I can formulate my thoughts and put them in print.

boywonder said...

I think the main problem, no matter what system of government is deemed best, is identifying truths in the first place; whether you believe in concrete, objective truths or probabilistic truths. Personally, I think there are both, and we are lumping lemons in with the oranges, just like there is no strictly good or evil. We oversimplify everything. It is obvious the world is not all on the same page. Some of the world isn't in the same book, let alone the same library. I think Einstein was right when he said we need a single unifying world government. The United Nations may be a joke, but it doesn't have to be. I also believe it is inevitable that this planet will be unified (or conquered, depending how you view it)one way or another. It is in our natures to be destructive, fearful, and untrusting. And I Am is right that there is a difference between ignorance and stupidity. All the education in the world will not help many, many people.
And Dave, don't lay the guilt trip on us, okay? We are all aware of the inequalities of life in general. When you get back from curing AIDS in Africa, let us know and then we'll feel bad. Everything can be better for everyone. I envision that to be the true goal of what we would think of socialism to be in general; to better societies and the individual. The key lies in getting the majority of the world on the same page. And I think to do that, everyone needs to understand why it is in their best interests to do this. Our moralities have not caught up with our technologies. Once again, I allude to religion as being the main roadblock here.

Delta said...

I think Einstein was right when he said we need a single unifying world government. The United Nations may be a joke, but it doesn't have to be.

Oh definitely, all that money that goes into spying, preparing for war, and actually warring each other could be used to drastically speed up scientific research as well as provide education and food/housing for the world's population. Some of it might have to be conquered, but perhaps most of the world could eventually join voluntarily. I've always been a big fan of the European Union for this reason, as a stepping stone.

Our moralities have not caught up with our technologies. Once again, I allude to religion as being the main roadblock here

I definitely agree. When most of the world has a perverted sense of what morality is it's hard to be on the same page. And the fact that people are allowed to believe whatever they want simply on faith and aren't expected to have evidence hurts us even further.

worldcitizen said...

I even felt guilty when I began to doubt capitalism, as if I had done something wrong. The feeling was similar to how I remember feeling when I first started to doubt the existence of god.

Bingo.

It's easy to play a fun game listening to Republicans (and many Democrats these days) go on about how the glorious "free market" AUTOMAGICALLY gives us the BEST POSSIBLE economic outcome for EVERYONE.

Sounds like religion to me. All hail the "invisible hand!"

Don't take my word for it. Just listen to the "business analysts" and check out the Wall Street Journal opinion page, etc. for a while. If you make a note of every time someone says such things, you start to get creeped out.

By the way, some of I Am's rather arbitrary declarative statements in this comment seem to me to be of the same flavor. Too much Ayn Rand.

Aaron Kinney said...

If you want to know about the difference between socialism and capitalism, read something by Ayn Rand. Or better yet, look at the world as it exists today.

Socialism is totally inferior to capitalism in every way. The rich people in socialist countries are poorer than the poor people in capitalist countries.

Here are some examples of socialism vs. capitalism:

West Berlin/East Berlin
South Korea/North Korea
USA/USSR
Japan/China

The list goes on and on.

Socialism is wrong because it champions collective rights while destroying private rights. In addition, it denies a free economy in favor of a planned economy.

Sorry commies, but the planned economy is always inferior to the free economy. The invisible market hand of capitalism is the only way to go.

Americas might comes from its capitalism. The most prosperous nations today are the most capitalistic.

Capitalism is an economic form of natural selection.

Aaron Kinney said...

Too much Ayn Rand.

Baloney. You cant have too much Rand when you debate communism vs. capitalism. Just as you cannot have too much Marx.

Next will you tell us that, in a discussion of America's founding, there is too much "Jefferson"?

worldcitizen said...

Humans are selfish. In fact, I would go so far as to say 100% selfish. I have long believed that no one every does anything that isn't motivated by self-interest. Any seemingly selfless behavior you see, such as giving to charity, doing a favor for someone or rescuing a child from a burning building can be reduced to selfish motives.

This sort of thing is what I'm referring to--useless semantic sophistry. We have a perfectly good definition of 'selfish' already in place, but because some people like to insist on making absurd statements that sound profound (that, as I said, seem to me to be of a religious nature) they introduce a new definition that is a lot less useful and also impossible to argue with. How does it advance the conservation to think in these terms? Is the motivation to bilk old widows out of their pensions via your 'energy futures' trading company really equivalent to the motivation to pull that child out of the burning building? Please.

Look, totalitarian communism was a failure, but that doesn't automatically make laissez-faire a success. The United States proved that 100 years ago. At the rate we're going, we'll prove it again in a few more years. Yes, there has been economic dogmatism on the left and it has at times been less than ideal and even disastrous. But that's not the situation this country is facing now. The dogmatism comes overwhelmingly from the right.

What bothers me is the insistence that a system in which everyone should go ahead and make as much money as possible by any and all means gives you anything other than exactly that. The idea that somehow it gives you the best possible ethical world is where the bullshit comes in.

Delta said...

West Berlin/East Berlin
South Korea/North Korea
USA/USSR
Japan/China


None of those so-called socialist countries are actually socialist countries though. They are not run for the benefit of the people, and especially not by the working class. They are run by corrupt governments that keep power and wealth to themselves. True socialist governments should have democratic elections and safeguards against government abuses.

Socialism is wrong because it champions collective rights while destroying private rights

That the world belongs to the people, not to a select few which gets proportionally smaller as time goes on, is an important part of socialism, but I don't see how that makes it wrong. From my point of view, that's partly why it is right.

Americas might comes from its capitalism. The most prosperous nations today are the most capitalistic

Prosperous in terms of what, GNP or standard of living for its people? Many european countries, while still being capitalistic, have more social programs and are more socialistic than the United States. They also have a higher standard of living.



People starve in Africa and other places in the world everyday. Yet, our tax dollars go to pay farmers not to farm on their land. How can this be justified?

Delta said...

I've been thinking about it some more and doing some reading. I do think that socialism has to be the future when technology has eliminated the need for most workers. However, I think boywonder is correct in that it would take a more caring and socially-conscious population in order to make it work, at least at this point in time. Sure, maybe a change now could work, but I'd be too afraid that a dictatorship or the liking could come to power due to human stupidity and irrationality. With religion still wreaking havoc on our world, we will probably be dating robots before we get this needed change in attitudes.I'm going to keep my available activism time devoted to combating religion rather than capitalism. I think religion is the greater evil of the two by many orders of magnitude.

thinkanythingonce said...

A free economy is the most moral system possible, because it is built exclusively on the voluntary actions of individuals. Socialism is inherently evil because it is based on command and control.

Let's not confuse a mixed economy like we have now with a true free economy. Much of what is disgusting about our present system results from business and government being in bed together.

It amazes me that anyone still doubts the superiority of free market economies. It must require an astounding ability to disconnect oneself from reality to sit in front of a computer created by capitalism in a house built by capitalism communicating over an internet built by capitalism, and to wonder if socialism, the biggest economic failure in history, is better. This is comparable to the delusions of religious people!

Delta said...

A free economy is the most moral system possible, because it is built exclusively on the voluntary actions of individuals

Well I think you need to place a qualifier on your term voluntary. It is definitely voluntary for the wealthy. They've got enough money they don't need to work. But for the poor of the world, which is a very large portion and proportionally increasing, work is not something that is voluntary. You go to your job, or you and your family starve.

It must require an astounding ability to disconnect oneself from reality to sit in front of a computer created by capitalism in a house built by capitalism communicating over an internet built by capitalism

If my computer and my house were built by slaves, would that it make slavery okay? If everyone in the world had the opportunities and comforts that I do, then I wouldn't have a problem with capitalism at all. Go tell a little girl who works making your shoes for 10 cents an hour that she's disconnected from reality.

This is comparable to the delusions of religious people!

Uh huh, because religious people usually reexamine beliefs they had as a child.

David said...

I believe that socialism is ethically wrong and that free enterprise is the only ethical system. There is a little more to it though. A free enterprise government must protect rights in order to be fully ethical.

I believe that socialism is wrong because slavery is wrong. Why should one person be able to take the product of another's labor at the point of a gun? If someone (in the guise of government) tells me I must give X percentage of my effort to another person, they are essentially telling me I am a slave to the other person to some degree. What right do they have to enslave me?

If you believe that slavery is wrong and that each person has the right to do as they please so long as they don't violate another's rights then, as far as I can see, you must believe free enterprise is the only ethical system.

One more point - I believe the sole legitimate purpose of government is to protect the rights of its citizens; protect the citizens from foreign invasion (military), protect them from others who intend to violate their rights (police), protect them from others who intend to violate contractual agreements (courts).

thinkanythingonce said...

Well I think you need to place a qualifier on your term voluntary. It is definitely voluntary for the wealthy. They've got enough money they don't need to work. But for the poor of the world, which is a very large portion and proportionally increasing, work is not something that is voluntary. You go to your job, or you and your family starve.

I don't think you understand what "voluntary" means. It requires being free to make choices. Only a free market system allows economic voluntary action. The fact that some people get rich doesn't make a free market immoral. In fact, I think it is evidence of a moral system wherein people get what they deserve based on what they provide in free exchange with others. If you don't like a certain rich person, don't do work for them, don't buy from them, and encourage your friends to do the same. That's voluntary action.

Look at India and China, two very poor countries that are now embracing capitalism. They aren't getting poorer, they are getting richer. Soon they will challenge Europe and the US, taking their place as equals in the world economy. The only countries getting poorer are those that don't have free markets and private property.

Socialism, in contrast, enslaves us all to each other, or in reality, to whoever has the political might to become the master. To the naive, socialism seems fairer than capitalism because under socialism there is less difference between the poor and the rich. This results not from real fairness, but from the unproductive nature of socialist economies. Real fairness comes from equality of opportunity, when the laws favor no one and everyone can individually choose their economic relationships. This simply can't exist in a socialist economy.

If my computer and my house were built by slaves, would that it make slavery okay? If everyone in the world had the opportunities and comforts that I do, then I wouldn't have a problem with capitalism at all. Go tell a little girl who works making your shoes for 10 cents an hour that she's disconnected from reality.

No, but it would make slavery a productive system. My point in the original post was that all those things (computers, internet, housing) are created in great quantities at affordable prices by capitalism. Socialism doesn't do that, because it (socialism) is a form of slavery, and slaves don't innovate or work productively.

That little girl who is working for 10 cents an hour in a foreign country has a great job in her opinion. Who the fuck are you sitting in your comfortable house in front of a computer to tell her she can't choose that job because you think the pay isn't enough? She was offered that job and accepted it freely, considering it her best alternative. In fact, she is probably the envy of others who would love to have what is in fact a high-paying job in her country. (Try going to a third-world country---as I have---and you'll see that the cost of living is as low as the wages.)

My wife is a former resident of a third world country. I've seen the lingering, abject poverty of a socialist system that for decades refused to allow people to make free economic choices. I've also seen the prosperity, productivity, and individual dreams that are unleased when that government realizes that a free market system is best and that getting rich is a good thing.

People in the emerging capitalist countries are on their way to having the opportunities and comforts that you have. But they have decades of socialism to recover from first!

thinkanythingonce said...

Oh, by the way, the reason that socialist countries are poor is not simply corruption or people's selfish nature. Ludwig von Mises, in his landmark book Socialism argued persuasively for the impossibility of accurate economic calculation under a socialist systems. His argument was never effectively countered by socialist theorists, try though they might.

The problem, in a nutshell, is that there are no valid prices under a socialist system. That means one can never determine the economic value of the inputs and outputs of any industrial process (in the most general sense of industrial). That further means that one cannot determine which of two or more alternative processes is the most efficient in using resources in the context of all other economic requirements of the economy.

Free markets do this kind of calculation automatically and automatically eliminate inefficient businesses through an evolutionary process. Socialism simply cannot do this. I highly recommend von Mises' book for those interested in this issue.

Delta said...

You both bring up some good points, let me try to go through them.

I believe that socialism is wrong because slavery is wrong. Why should one person be able to take the product of another's labor at the point of a gun? If someone (in the guise of government) tells me I must give X percentage of my effort to another person, they are essentially telling me I am a slave to the other person to some degree

This is something that I thought about as well. In some sense I think it's a pretty good argument. To some extent it would seem like the workers were still the exploited class. The one difference I think is that in the current system the wealthy have a disproportionate influence on politics and thereby undermine our democracy. The non-workers in socialism would probably have a hard time running on that amongst a society which valued work for the common good. But I think the argument does still have some force to it despite that.

One more point - I believe the sole legitimate purpose of government is to protect the rights of its citizens; protect the citizens from foreign invasion (military), protect them from others who intend to violate their rights (police), protect them from others who intend to violate contractual agreements (courts)

In my personal opinion I think government should help create a society which has a stable and healthy future. But I definitely can't tell you are wrong to want your type of government, it's just that I don't think it will be the optimal government for society (which you obviously don't have to strive for either).

In fact, I think it is evidence of a moral system wherein people get what they deserve based on what they provide in free exchange with others

I think it's silly to believe that a free market gives what you provide. How can you justify CEOs taking home millions of dollars when they're fired while a good teacher will never make more than 25-40k. The same reason why a laborer in the U.S. might make $15/hour and someone somewhere else makes 10 cents/hour. It's not what you provide to society that determines your reward, but simply supply and demand forces. It would be a miracle if these forces magically provided the most ethical outcome.

If you don't like a certain rich person, don't do work for them, don't buy from them, and encourage your friends to do the same. That's voluntary action

I suppose a lot of problems with capitalism could be resolved with a more intelligent, aware electorate. One that didn't care more about whether two gays that they will never meet marry than they do about anything else. I think this is a good point.

Real fairness comes from equality of opportunity, when the laws favor no one and everyone can individually choose their economic relationships

The laws don't favor no one though, they favor the rich, because they control politics. A more intelligent electorate would lessen this problem, but I don't think it would eliminate it.

That little girl who is working for 10 cents an hour in a foreign country has a great job in her opinion. Who the fuck are you sitting in your comfortable house in front of a computer to tell her she can't choose that job because you think the pay isn't enough?

Who the fuck are you to tell me what her opinion is?

Try going to a third-world country---as I have---and you'll see that the cost of living is as low as the wages

10 cents an hour is not going to give you a good opportunity in the world. What if she wanted to live somewhere else, like Europe or the U.S.? Her 10 cents/hour savings account isn't going to be worth much here. She is localized to where she works, very similar to a slave.

My wife is a former resident of a third world country. I've seen the lingering, abject poverty of a socialist system

I don't know of any true socialist systems out there though. Mind telling us which country you are talking about?

That means one can never determine the economic value of the inputs and outputs of any industrial process

That's part of the problem. Part of the input is human labor. They have economic value only, and are never given the value that a human being deserves. If they live in a place where there are a lot of other workers and hence a larger supply of labor, guess what, their value is less. Economically yes, but as a human being I would think it should be no.




I'm still not sold on socialism, but I can't embrace capitalism until I understand how it could work in the future when technology has eliminated the need for most jobs. It could be true that capitalism is best now and socialism then. But if socialism is the only thing that works in the future it would be debatable as to at what time is it "time for socialism". Do any of you have anything to say about this?

Thanks for all the comments btw, I appreciate it.

thinkanythingonce said...

The evidence of history is that advancing technology doesn't eliminate net jobs. Technology eliminates certain jobs, to be sure, but in a free market the demand for goods (and therefore labor) is unlimited. Workers displaced from a certain job by technology eventually get absorbed in other industries, most of which are themselves created by the advance of technology.

This is one of the huge, huge advantages of a free economy. It allows rapid mobility of labor, which is crucial in both keeping the economy productive and reducing unemployment. More socialistic countries, like France and Germany, have high unemployment and suffer from long-term economic malaise because they have rigid labor markets, inspired by socialist thinking. Naive socialists (or power-lusting politicians) think it is good for "the worker" to have restrictions on firing workers, but in fact this produces an inefficient labor market that leads to high unemployment and low productivity.

The error of your whole argument is the idea that people have limited needs. However, as one need is met, other wants that used to seem unimportant emerge as "needs". There is never enough productive capacity to satisfy everyone.

You also seem to be assuming that energy exists in unlimited quantities to power industrial processes. It just isn't true and I doubt it ever can be. As long as energy is limited, which physically it must be, there will be unsatisfied needs.

For example, 40 years ago, only the rich could travel via airplane. Now, it is dirt cheap. Today, only the very rich can go into space. Soon, due to capitalism, it will get more affordable. Some day, it will be cheap and everyone will want to do it.

By the way, these are good examples of why the poor should be grateful for the existence of the rich: the rich bankroll new products by paying outrageous amounts for products in the early days of development and production. If it weren't for the rich, most new technologies would never reach the mass market.

If I may, I suggest you do some reading on this issue. A good starter is Milton Friedman's book Free to Choose. Heavier reading, but worthwhile, are von Mises' Socialism and Human Action. Of course, Ayn Rand is also worth reading. Reason magazine is also a good source.

Anonymous said...

Capitalism and communism were responses to particular historical and technological circumstances. There were different economic systems before either of them, and there will be different economic systems after them.

The circumstances you posulate are well beyond those for which capitalism was designed or functions as intended. Marshall Brain, founder of How Things Work, has given the problem you pose much thought and has written a novel Manna showing two possible reactions to the robotic future. He also tracks increases in automation in our society in his Robotic Nation Blog.

BOYWONDER said...

Capitalism will fail eventually. I am not saying I wish this to be so. All systems are limited in different ways. To pretend capitalism and democracy in general are the be all end all solutions to a static world are very narrow-minded. The world is dynamic and ever-changing. I am not even saying socialism is the answer. Perhaps a pure form of socialism by and for the people on a global scale would work, but that is still a pipe dream. To pretend that capitalism is an open market available to anyone is also a farce. Millions of Americans are born into poverty with no legitimate way out. It is a perpetual cycle. And the poor are just as necessary to the rich to keep them rich. The government aids corporations in taking complete advantage of the masses. While you(thinkanythingonce)champion the good that capitalism does for mankind (and there are obvious benefits) you have not mentioned the downsides of our system. To honestly think anyone anywhere can become rich by just trying harder is a lie perpetuated by people like you who try hard as hell to ignore the problems of our society. You also ignore exactly how unfree our system is. Don't want to pay your taxes? Fine. Go to jail. Want to live free in the wilderness, answering to no one? Good luck finding land that is not claimed to be owned by someone. This is a problem that many farmers in third world countries are facing right now. They've been farming land for numerous generations only to be told that since they don't have a piece of paper stating they own the land, some developer can come in (buying it for pennies on the dollar)and kick them out. You consider this free? Please at the very least admit there are flaws and limitations to capitalism. And all Delta keeps trying to convey to you is that if the majority of the world understood the importance of helping others to contribute to society while receiving adaquate care in return, then this world wouldn't need bullshit systems designed to benefit the few. It all comes down to having a government that won't abuse whatever economic system we have in place. When that day arrives, I doubt we will even need a name for the system because it will be of little importance in comparison to just plain trying to make everyone happy.

thinkanythingonce said...

Boywonder: Thanks, first of all, for implying that I'm dishonest and that I perpetuate lies. Keeping things civil, let me respond to your points:

To pretend capitalism and democracy in general are the be all end all solutions to a static world are very narrow-minded. The world is dynamic and ever-changing.

The principle that free exchange of goods and services between individuals is both the most moral and the most productive system is not a static concept. It is based on human nature and the limited availability of means to satisfy unlimited wants.

To pretend that capitalism is an open market available to anyone is also a farce.

The "capitalism" you refer to is a mixed market economy in which lobbyists can get the government to pass laws that favor a certain business or group. This is not the system I'm talking about. Rather it is a perversion of that system.

Millions of Americans are born into poverty with no legitimate way out. It is a perpetual cycle.

One of the major reasons they are trapped in poverty is government-run schools that do such a terrible job of educating the poor. More government (socialism) isn't likely to fix this. We need a free market in education.

Another reason is the way illegal drugs bring crime to poor areas. If the government would stop controlling peaceful behavior (drug use) it would eliminate much of the violence in poor areas and give safety and peace of mind to improve their lives.

There are many who start in poverty and become, if not rich, at least very comfortable. Check out some of Thomas Sowell's books for statistics on mobility within the US economy. It is much higher than you seem to think.

And the poor are just as necessary to the rich to keep them rich.

Huh? If the poor are really poor, what do they have the that rich need? Did Bill Gates, Ted Turner, or Donald Trump get rich by exploiting the poor? If you think so, give some evidence. As I see it, it is awfully hard to get rich by exploiting people who don't produce anything of value.

The government aids corporations in taking complete advantage of the masses.

Yes, and this should stop, as should subsidies for farmers, displaced workers, etc. This is not a feature of capitalism, but a corruption of it.

To honestly think anyone anywhere can become rich by just trying harder is a lie perpetuated by people like you who try hard as hell to ignore the problems of our society.

You must not know any immigrants. I know a great many, and they work hard, suffer, and get ahead. People in America who are in perpetual poverty mostly have themselves and their culture to blame. In LA, for example, Korean and Vietnamese immigrants start small shops, work hard, and send their kids to Stanford. If native-born Americans living in similar poor areas can't do the same, then they have to look in the mirror to see who to blame.

They've been farming land for numerous generations only to be told that since they don't have a piece of paper stating they own the land, some developer can come in (buying it for pennies on the dollar)and kick them out. You consider this free?

I agree that there is a big problem in third world countries with nontraditional land claims not being recognized legally. This is not a problem with capitalism per se, but with badly formulated laws. As some recent articles in the Economist points out, some of these tradiational land claims are recognized only by local tribal chiefs. These chiefs are reluctant to formalize the land claims as it would result in their losing control. Again, this is not a capitalism/socialism issue. Most third-world countries even today have very unfree markets in almost everything.

It all comes down to having a government that won't abuse whatever economic system we have in place.

Yes, that is what we would have in the US if the free market system hadn't been corrupted into a mixed market. You'll never get a system free of government abuse and business/government collusion until the government is forbidden to meddle in the economy.

Socialism has shown itself to be rife with such abuse, because it is completely unfree from the start. Capitalism at least starts out free.

boywonder said...

thinkanythingonce, I'm sorry. It wasn't my intention to call you a lier. I can see in my comment how you would have construed that. I will admit I was aggitated by some of your comments, but believe me, I value your opinion. In my local sphere of influence I am used to defending myself from ridiculous accusations by narrow-minded fools on a daily basis. I live in Indiana if that tells you anything. It is obvious you have many valid points, and I am not trying to deny that. I also assumed that what you meant by capitalism was the perverted form we now see in the United States. I also thought you assumed by socialism, I meant the perverted forms that have failed in history. I am used to people assuming that one.
At the present, I still do not understand the connection you are making between morality and capitalism. I see no morality inherent in capitalism. Would you mind elaborating if you can?
I also noticed you seem to be championing a private education system in the hopes of curtailing poverty . I'm sure you are aware of the controversy surrounding that idea. I bet most atheists think of 'vouchers' at the mere mention of private education. While I think I see the upside to private education, I fear the downside even more. Is there something I am missing here?
I couldn't agree more about the effects of drugs on the poor and how legalization and control of many of those substances seems to be the rational way to go.
As far as why do the rich need the poor? I must not have phrased that topic correctly, because I thought you would have at least understood what I meant. I mean how every company that is in business to make money will use every legal technique possible to aquire and retain a consumer. Even the word "consumer" is disgusting to me. It makes us sound like pigs at a trough. There are many ways a business tricks and cheats the consumer. From advertising tricks, to complex fine print, to out and out fraud, any business serious about making money will do whatever it takes to get what little money a poor person has. They do not care that a person is poor, only that that poor person uses his few dollars (or welfare coupons) on one of their products. What do you think the 20% or so of the low income families that Bush gave a tax cut to used their money on? Debt and goods and services. While that was the intention of the tax break, it speaks volumes for the faith of the government in knowing how the poor will spend their money. While companies shouldn't be persecuted for making money, they should be for failing to adhere to any form of ethical business practices.

thinkanythingonce said...

At the present, I still do not understand the connection you are making between morality and capitalism. I see no morality inherent in capitalism. Would you mind elaborating if you can?

Before answering that question, I have to say what I mean by "morality." Morality is a set of guidelines for action that, if followed, will tend to make the actor happy. Note that I say "tend," because of course no guidelines will work in every case. When confronted with unusual circumstances, one must fall back on the basic principle that maximizing one's own happiness (including not just intensity but duration) is one's highest good.

I do not believe that morality is about relationships between individuals or about how we treat others, though that is certainly a very important factor in determining how happy we'll be. Also, to be clear, I do not hold that morality is about maximizing others' happiness or the total happiness in society (whatever that would mean). Rather, morality tells each individual how he ought to live if he wants to maximize his happiness. (I think that those who claim to live for others or to put others' happiness first are actually satisfying their own psychological needs based on an ideology they've internalized.)

Some would claim that my notion of morality would impel us all to seek to control others for our own ends. However, a more rational conclusion is that it compels us to recognize that others are right (moral) in seeking happiness just as we seek it. In other words, we should not expect others to sacrifice themselves for us. Yet, we quite logically want others to serve us and contribute to our happiness. The problem is, how to achieve this end?

We have two options: coercion and trade. History shows that those who compel others to serve them meet unpleasant ends and live in fear. (For example, read the biography of any dictator or crime boss.) When we use force to control others, we invite them to use it against us. Hence, the most rational way to deal with others is through trade. Trade is a win-win situation in which we recognize that others have the same general goal that we have and that we can best serve ourselves by trading services with them.

Capitalism in its pure form is a system built on this concept. The only way to get something of value from others is by offering them something of value in exchange. If both parties accept the exchange (and there is no fraud involved), then both parties benefit (insofar as each understood his wants and needs).

This is why I believe capitalism to be a timeless and moral system. Socialism is evil because it is based on coercion, which is antithetical to happiness.

I also noticed you seem to be championing a private education system in the hopes of curtailing poverty . I'm sure you are aware of the controversy surrounding that idea. I bet most atheists think of 'vouchers' at the mere mention of private education. While I think I see the upside to private education, I fear the downside even more. Is there something I am missing here?

I'm not completely comfortable with vouchers, because it often means public support of religious schools. However, parents should have the right to educate their children as they see fit. I don't think the government should be funding education at all.

There are many ways a business tricks and cheats the consumer. From advertising tricks, to complex fine print, to out and out fraud, any business serious about making money will do whatever it takes to get what little money a poor person has. They do not care that a person is poor, only that that poor person uses his few dollars (or welfare coupons) on one of their products.

I agree that some businesses try to take advantage of their customers. Any company breaking the law or committing fraud should be punished. If they only bend the law, we as individuals can show our displeasure by patronizing their competition.

However, I don't agree that all business consider this the best way to make money. In fact, I think the vast majority of businesses work hard to offer value and service. If this were not true, we wouldn't have the standard of living we have now, since that standard of living results from the goods and services we consume.

For example, I bought a new car a year ago. I'm really pleased with the quality and features I got for the price. Was I cheated? I don't see how. Most products I buy today give great value and quality.

Given the way the media carries on, it is easy to get the idea that we are being exploited left and right by unscrupulous corporations. However, this is just not true.

Delta said...

Well looks like I missed out on quite a few good posts during my move to California. I appreciate the discussion guys, and I'll look into a few of those books that you listed thinkanythingonce.

boywonder said...

I too will look into those books. I have a few last questions for you thinkanythingonce that I would like your opinion on, and then I'll be content with this fruitful discussion.

Econonics aside, should society care about morality?

How responsible should any society be for the wellbeing of the individual? Not just financial welfare, but happiness in general (psychological, emotional, etc..)?

Mad as a Fish said...

This is a very interesting point, Delta. What you describe about robotics assuming the 'driving seat of production' is an idea which I have also considered (curses, and I thought I was being original!). It is particularly interesting, and owes a lot, I think, to Marx's idea of 'the falling rate of profit' and the 'labour theory of value'.
If we accept that all value of a product (be it a service, or a physical object) is derived from the level of labour which has gone into it (to produce raw materials, to create commodities), and capitalism functions by successfully extracting 'surplus value' on top of this - then what occurs when production becomes so heavily automated that the cost of labour is effectively eliminated?
If machines, created and maintained by machines, and supplied by machines for nil expenditure (after the initial) drive our economies, then the value of every product must also become nil.
You might argue of course that this near infinate, free production capacity would not nessecitate price changes - but given that SO MANY workers would have been laid off in the process of mechanisation, the pool of viable wage earners would also have decreased.
In this manner, businesses of every description, in the quest to decrease overheads (thereby producing products and services more cheaply) effectively shoot themselves in the foot by laying off their own profit base!
This, Marx argued, would cause the eventual collapse of capitalism as a system - the internal contradiction of the system which states that as the circle of viable consumers decreases, so must the rate of profit overall. As a result it seems to me that the capitalist class (a difficult term to assign at present - perhaps 'investors' may be a better word in today's corporate climate) has two choices.
The first (and because I have little respect regarding the intelligence of capitalism, I think the most likely) is increasing mechanisation in an effort to lower prices (being more competitive regarded as the universal panacea), laying off more workers and continuing the cycle.
This is of course, limited - like hollowing out the base of a tree, it's only so long before the whole structure gives. The result would be utter chaos - probably the reactionary banning of mechanised labour.
The second option seems the better alternative - capitalism will realise that it is no longer tenable as a system and will recognise that since all important means of survival and comfort can be produced for zero outlay - and the only exploitation occuring in the system is that between man and machine (in other words, justifiable).
there would no longer be any need for a fiscal or social stratification under these conditions - so egalitarian socialism likely comes about through technological advance, not proletarian revolution.
Of course I recognise that this is a little idealist - it would raise the question of human purpose. Would we devote ourselves to self-improvement and artistic pursuits with all our time? Or just become an ever growing, unskilled hemogenous mass of purposeless hedonists?
Unfortunately methinks the latter, as the very thing which brought about capitalism (and maintains it) is human indolence. Marx was, I think, also right to suggest that human beings define their lives by their relationship with what they produce, by their skills and by their interactions with others - so by working less we in fact just encourage complacence.
Of course I wouldn't suggest that we all engage in some lunatic work ethic - just that by distancing us from the products of our labour (turning work into a MEANS [to earn wages] rather than an END).
Unfortunately I think this might lead to a kind of blighted, empty socialism - little better than blighted, empty capitalism (though it might be more honest).
Still though - On another point, I CANNOT accept that human nature is fundamentally flawed (apologies to 'I am'). People ARE NOT solely motivated out of 'amour-propre' (self-love) or selfish interest. When a human being dives into a lake to rescue a drowning child to whom they have no connection, it cannot be seen as a selfish reflex.
Human beings are fundamentally co-operative creatures - we work (and often think) best in groups - usually with people of many talents and perspectives contributing. Capitalism takes advantage of this aspect of human nature to the extent that it enjoys the fruits of our collective labours, without ever encouraging the conclusion that that co-operation could be an end of itself, and not just a way to pursue individual gain.
The pursuit of personal need is of course a driving force, because instinct dictates that the best chances for one's offspring are obtained through a secure environment.
A friend of mine once said that there were two goals in life - money and procreation. I disagree. Only the latter has any bearing in this regard - the accruing of capital only serving to aid the security of the child.
I find slavish devotion to instinct dull in any case (after all, what is higher reasoning for, if not fighting instinct?) - but if humans work best in concert, are fundamentally social creatures, then the Marxist ideal of socialism at least can be said to be realistic.
The phrase 'socialism' has been unfairly tarred by the authoritarian excesses of Soviet Communism, just as the phrase 'capitalism' has been unfairly legitimised by 400 years of the establishment of the idea of 'private property'.
The notion of 'property' (and all the legal systems set up to maintain it) can only serve to divide humanity as it creates a fundamental conflict between those who own property and those who do not. It divides the fundamentally cooperative soul of humanity by privatising the use of what should be available to all (what Marx called the 'means of production').
So I think it is the opposite, CAPITALISM is in conflict with human nature, and is therefore untenable (in the long run) - not to mention ecologically unsustainable - the sheer volume of resources this planet is required to cough up to support the free market (much of which are wasted) is FRIGHTENING.
It has simply been this way for so long that we cannot see that we now so fundamentally accept the notion of 'private property' that it is almost impossible to question it, and it has produced this narcissistic way of thinking. The nation-state, the legal system, civil society, agricultural output and industrial production - even art and science are UTTERLY enslaved by 'private property' - by the notion of 'mine' and 'yours' - that 'OURS' is rarely considered as an alternative.
I doubt it will change in the current economic climate, but given the point about technology, I think it is absolutely right that it will change of it's own accord to a more collectivist ideology. This does not mean I condone State Ownership (nor did Marx) or the infringement of liberty either - I do not condone the Capitalist State full stop.
This too is often misconstrued as anarchism - it is not - it is socialism - too utopian to be considered workable in our present society - but I judge it will come, either through technology or lack of resources.
Suffering finger strain now as a result of trying to cover every angle, probably comes down to my British heritage. We have a much greater legacy of socialist thought over here - aside from *spits* Margaret Thatcher. I always appreciate thoughts and counter arguments though - will keep watching this thread, as I am very interested to get the transatlantic take on these issues.
One final point, mostly addressed to 'thinkanythingonce' - Your example of the car you bought was intriguing,

"Was I cheated? I don't see how. Most products I buy today give great value and quality."

I would say that yes, you were. Taking into account what I said earlier - Capitalism functions on a PROFIT basis - it's enitre purpose is the ADVANCE OF CAPITAL to PRODUCE COMMODITIES which will in turn RETURN MORE CAPITAL than was initially laid out - therefore somebody has to lose out somewhere along the line.
This is you, the consumer, who is not only being charged for the cost of the LABOUR, MATERIALS and MARKETING that have gone into making that car (or whatever product you care to name), but have also been charged a 'surplus' (usually a 100% markup on this base cost) in order to ensure a profit for the manufacturer and the salesman.
Not only this, but the wage you are paid in whatever occupation you take is what purchases the car. This wage is also a mere fraction of the wealth that you produce (and therefore deserve) in said occupation - so you are consequently being cheated twice!
Anyhow - finger cramp rapidly ramping up, and work in a few hours, so I'll climb down from my soapbox now! - Would be glad, as I said, to hear any and all views people may have.
Just because we are exploited, doesn't mean we have to be content with it.

mad as a fish said...

Apologies for the second post - this one goes to 'Aaron Kinney' - Capitalism is the better system? Tosh. Blustering, propoganda fuelled tramp's testicles.
It is unfair, unequal, and a corruption of human nature in favour of exploitative relations.
Have you ever actually READ Marx, or Engels? Socialism is not defined in it's purest sense as a 'planned economy' - and cannot be measured in terms of 'personal prosperity'. The economies which you name merely alluded to socialist principle.
Capitalism and socialism simply CANNOT be compared in terms of material wealth, both systems are measured by completely different sets of parameters. Socialism is not about the pursuit of personal advantage, but about the equal ownership of PROPERTY - not as in the STATE owning property - as in ALL owning property.
These 'richest people' in the economies you name were pursuing selfish self-interest in a poorly managed state-capitalist setting. You CAN'T argue on this basis.
People who say these sort of things are irritating self-parodies. Are you unable to see that the unfeeling, unknowing hand of the free market directs us as much by silent manipulation as Soviet Communism did by coercion?
If 'economic Darwinism' was right and proper then that would suggest that the essential nature of the human condition was struggle and suffering. I cannot believe this. The free market has replaced god in this regard, an ethereal mass of dictatory dogma eternally promising 'that better something over the next rise' - it just convinces people not to *heaven forfend* (excuse the pun)attempt to change their day-to-day reality.
If freedom of choice and action are the result of laissez-faire economics - and we are so much more liberated than the 'opressed' under 'evil socialism' - why does everyone in the west 'choose' to wear JEANS?

"Sorry Commies?"

Honestly - go and introduce what little grey matter you have to a wall.

mad as a fish said...

Market Socialism seems the most workable route given the present economic structure of the world today. It seems fair to say that a society can be judged best by how it treats it's worst off citizens, and by how happy the general populace are.
In this regard a balance of nationalisation of key economic nessecities (a la Mr. Chavez) such as Telecommunications, Power, Gas, Insurance and possibly housing under the umbrella of state ownership, combined with internalised markets being run by various government operated companies (supermarkets, petty bourgeois etc.) in competition with one another seems feasable.
This would seem to curb the worst excesses of free market exploitation whilst establishing a loop economy which would provide not only product diversity, but a means of placing all profit back in the hands of the populace and the means to pay producers in other countries a fair sum for their labours.
Everyone wins in this scenario. Corporate monopolies are avoided - it does not stifle industry, or creativity (companies could compete, for example, for awards). Perhaps the only downside would be that it does not curb the wasteful nature of capitalism.

Delta said...

mad as fish,

Great comments, too bad you weren't around when this discussion was lively! If you're interested, we're talking about socialism over at a different blog right now, here. Please join us if you'd like =)

Anonymous said...

I think people are ignoring their (correct) instincts about capitalism that there is something inherently wrong with it but we have no clue how to fix it, the quest for efficiency and competition is basically ruining peoples lives DESPITE all the wealth creation. Google "work life" balance, also look at the statistics on depression, mental health and suicide rates, they are skyrocketing.

Personally the words "capitalism" and "socialism" do not really encapsulate the *actual* economic reality, there are different models of capitalism/socialism/etc.

You should google "George soros" and read a lot of what he has written about capitalism and free markets.

He made his money under capitalism but even he knows capitalism itself has enormous problems.

The issue is not simple and is very complex and requires a LOT of reading, most people do not have enough time between work and school in my opinion to give any a valid opinion on economic systems since understanding them is so very time intensive. Not only that but you have to be able to visualize the economic structures and how it effects peoples lives.

maswey said...

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