View Full Version : Socialism vs. Capitalism
08-13-01, 04:41 PM
The USA Socialist Party celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. I refere to democratic socialism, not what happened in the USSR back in '17.
What system is better democratic socialism or capitalism???
How about a blend of the two? We have two parties: one party screws it up and people kick them out, the other party comes in fixes the screw up and messes up something....then people kick them out....and it goes on...on...on...
08-13-01, 05:31 PM
True a democratic socialist party could exist on the US political infrastructure- but which system is better?
(Title (c) by Matt Groening, The Simpsons).
Everytime I hear people talking about socialism, I have to think of an anecdote a teacher once told me when I was at high school. He had been to Russia in the pre-democracy age, and he witnessed the following: in the village he was staying, there was a restaurant. Every time he passed there, all the tables had a sign "reserved" on them. It turned out that everyday, the employees simply put out these signs, and went to the back to talk, play cards, whatever. Their argument was the following: "well, why should we work? We get paid anyway. If anybody asks, none of the reservations showed up".
I think Marx and Lenin were idealists, and idealists tend to get broken, consumed and spit out by the world. Sad fact.
08-13-01, 07:33 PM
Pure socialism may not work, but maybe if a profit scheme was introduced it would give people more of an incentive to work. I think the basic idea of socialism isn't to spread all the wealth, but enough so that all people are provided with adequate resources, and so that no one may become so rich that it feeds off the general public's welfare.
Let me know what you guys think.
I was told by a socialist leader: Socialism is where you work according to your abilities but you are provided for according to your needs.
In other words the salary of a teacher is same as the salary of a rocket scientist or a doctor.
What is wrong with that? A doctor only has two legs and can use so many yards of cloth to cover himself. All the teachers liked the idea, but the doctors hated it though! I wonder why?
In other words the salary of a teacher is same as the salary of a rocket scientist or a doctor.
In reality, not compensated according to one contributions leads to dissatisfaction. Couple that with the near paranoid perception the populace has of secret police (with justification). You wind up with a downtrodden mass with no desire to produce beyond that minimal required. No incentive for greater productivity leads to mediocre, at best, preformance.
When I was growing up among Reagan Republicans, trickle-down enthusiasts, and those who coddled the rich because they smelled better, certain items of human dignity kept returning to the anti-socialist rhetoric.
1) Socialism and Communism counteract individuality by making decisions about your health, education, and finances.
2) Socialism and Communism do not account for human nature, and when the hard worker sees a lazy man getting the same pay, guess what happens? The hard worker eases off, and quality falls apart all over.
It sounds like a case of the grub calling the maggot white. Consider the current, um ... "capitalism" of American economy.
1) The private company that employs me, and has regard first and foremost for its own profit margin to the point that I am an expendable asset wishes to assert its influence in matters of my education, my health, and my finances. That is, I can afford education and healthcare if I let them pick my health insurance plan and limit my education to subjects they find relevant. In the case of the healthcare, this would not be such a bad thing if any of the healthcare providers were dedicated to health instead of profit margin. In the case of my finances, I can let them invest my money, but their concern is their own profit and not mine. We had to write special legislation in this country to stop companies from seizing your money when you quit or were fired. How the hell did we get to that point in the first place?
2) Trickle-down does not account for human nature. When the greedy see money, they want to keep it among themselves. Trickle-down has had the effect of consolidating more wealth in a smaller segment of the population. New millionaires are a wonderful political tool, except that they are outpaced by the growth of poverty. All those job starts politicians take credit for? How many of them pay above the poverty line?
As kmguru noted, a blend of the two seems to have potential. Strangely, Communism on paper (that is, in theory) seems to account for this, though Communists were just as susceptible to greed as Capitalists, and that's a big part of why that never worked. However, I think that in the US, at least, we're moving more toward a capital communism, where everyone is obliged to the community's best interests except where money is concerned. Strange, but it makes me wonder when the rest of the world is going to get it together and kick the crap out of us over something or another.
If you go to the other extreme, then why people have to complain if a basket ball player makes 60 million a year? or that a corporate CEO of a $10 billion company makes $100 million a year? OR that people have victory paties when Bill Gates loses a few billion due to stock price dip.
Why do people demand to be paid as much teaching multipication tables as the person who teaches biochemistry?
Why should we pay a highway patrol officer $35K per year to sit in a car 60% of the time and once a while write speeding tickets while a nurse gets paid $18K to watch over life and death?
Who decides whose work is worth more and hence deserves more money? And what prevents those groups who try to control the money flow only to them?
And consider an organization called American Disease Society (ADS) with a $2 billion operating budget in search for a cure for the X disease. Now what interest they have to find a cure when they damn well know that next day after the cure is found, they have to close their doors. How does the incentive work here for greater good?
Just a few random thoughts....
08-14-01, 03:16 AM
As an idealist, I'd like to put in my thought before I get chewed up and spit out by life. No offense meant Crisp, I completely agre with the idea, this is just not a world for Idealists, but it would be really nice if people could give honest evaluations of what they deserve for the jobs that they do, unincumbered by greed of course.
Almost like in school when we had to grade our own papers fairly without just giving ourselves A's.
08-14-01, 08:53 AM
Try Rawls 'Theory of Justice'.
08-14-01, 01:39 PM
This is spurring a lot of talk. I'm happy. Democratic socialism is what i was refering to instead of the dictator-like socialism which was started in Russia and spread all over the world.
Also I think, Cuba is more of a dictatorship rather than communism.
Hey, thecurly1, I thought you would like activity in this topic. I am happy that you are happy.... :D
08-14-01, 01:50 PM
Kmguru you know me a bit more everyday.
This is the topic to talk about the future of social security i.e. social safety nets, health insurance and management, welfare (food, shelter) for the unfortunate.
In a socialistic state, it is universal healthcare like Canada (I am not sure in UK?). In US, if you do not have a job and over 21, you may not have health insurance...
thecurly1, start the direction here....Compare & Contrast....
08-14-01, 02:50 PM
The United State's isn't a socialist or completely capitalist country, ever since FDR's New Deal. For the first time a socialist idea, SOCIAL security was introduced where everyone gave to the system and who ever needed the money for retirement would be taken. A pure socialist ideal. Now originally the age was 65, because that was the life expectency of US citizens in the 1930s. This way there would be few alive to use the SS system. The age was never gradually raised as life expectency skyrocketed after WWII. Thats the problem with SS, now it will be bankrupted or close to it when the Boomer's begin to retire. Which is only a few years off.
As for goverment provided healthcare, I think that is potentailly more important than Social Security itself because it would serve everyone, regardless of age. We need universal healthcare to provide limited, basic medical assistance to those who need it.
That was part of the problem. The other part was that the politicians saw a boodle of money to spend when the money was tight. It was never replaced and raids on it continued.
With the mention of socialized healthcare I have to jump in on this one. Socialized healthcare is my greatest fear. I am a market economist the market handles resource allocation with much greater efficiency than the government, the only time the government should step in is when private industry can't handle i.e. public goods such as roads, defense, etc. Government has a lousy record of resource allocation take welfare for example. One of my econ professors worked for the government welfare system for about 15 years and had too leave for moral reasons. His reason was the system was about employing the middle class not welfare. We spend more money in welfare than the amount it would take to do a cash transfer to raise everyone too the established poverty line, this is most definetely not efficiency. Because of systems like this should I really believe in the government's ability to allocate healthcare resources efficiently.
The second and even bigger problem is innovation. Canada's socialized healthcare system still has innovation because they piggyback off U.S. innovation. U.S. still gives patents and doesn't have price controls on prescription drugs which means there is still an incentive too innovate. Presscription drug companies get critized but the patents and high cost of drugs is the only way they can recoup the massive r & d costs. If a socialized system is adapted this incentive is gone, r & d costs cannot be covered and no more innovation will occur.
08-23-01, 04:09 PM
I'm not very good at ecnomics so I'll try to avoid this. We don't need medicare for DRUGS, only some surgical costs at most.
Drug companies renew their patents by chaning something small, and insignificant in the drug so that a new pattent can be given. With a new pattent, no generic, "off-brand" drugs can be made. This keeps the drug companies holding a monopoly over say "Viagra" which makes them tons of money by exploiting the common citizen. Especailly seniors who are on a fixed income.
Now I used Viagra as an example. If a generic brand is made, then the drug companies will still make money off the original drug, but not as much. Though this may seem no bad for the company, in the long term it would be good because more effort would be put into making new drugs to cure, and lengthen human life. These new drugs would make up for the profits lost by the generic drugs which compete with the original.
I'm pretty sure this makes sense.
Here are the issues on Healthcare.
This year, so far 900,000 people have been laid off. Cobra cost is very expensive. The entire medical establishment depends on Insurance welfare system. Small employers have a difficult time providing benefits. Companies with less than 30 (I think) employees are not required to provide health benefits. While most people can pay doctor visits out of pocket ($80), it is the hospital cost that will kill you without any insurance. There is a large number of people that take risks because they are not under group health benefit program. Free enterprise does not work for them.
People who are under social security, barely make their ends meet after paying auto insurance, utilities etc. Now the older people need drugs that work, such as COX-2 inhibitors like Celebrex which costs $80 to $160 per month. If you add maintenance drugs like blood pressure medicine, price goes up. Go to a senior citizen group like Council on Aging, you will see the problem.
I was told by an insurance guy that free enterprise and supply/demand does not work well for the healthcare industry. It is highly regulated in the caregiver's favor. It is a very little supply and very high demand situation. And the supply is strictly regulated in the name of public benefit. So the economic theory may not work here. It is the Greed theory in action.
08-24-01, 11:13 AM
Interesting debate. In the UK we have free health care for all - the National Health Service. But it is coming under increasing pressure.
The NHS is beloved by almost all in this country, considered virtually a human right. But it is under enormous strain. The cost of drugs and modern medical treatment mean costs have escalated enormously. There are waiting lists, shortages of doctors and a lack of beds. Under Thatcher we allowed in private medical treatment, but this is limited and something of a luxury, but is increasingly being offered by employers as a perk. Charges are being put on more and more things - eye tests, dental work etc. And still the NHS struggles to meet expectations of care.
Personally speaking, I think a universal right to equal standards of treatment is something that any civilised country should aim for. It increasingly looks though that with rising costs, there will inevitably be varied standards depending on income levels. The sad truth is that if costs rise unsubsidised, the very nature of the economic principles of medicine suggest that there will always be an underclass with minimal access to health care. We're not there yet in the UK, but I've seen what happens in the US and don't like it. The only solution is higher taxes and state funding of medical research. But I doubt even that would work.
People want security and a measure of freedom. Capitalism offers neither. You are either a surf or a usurper--there are no winners without losers. In a capitalist system the true capitalist must be willing to take advantage of all resources. Of these, people are the most useful. The true capitalist must be willing to use people. <b>Dog eat dog.</b>
The only social model that I favor is that which is called <b>family</b>. When I think of the effort that my parents expended in their effort to maintain our <b>household</b>--the energy which my wife and I now burn for the same reason--I come to the rational that there is only one root motivation which holds us together and causes us to give our best. If we could extend that to a larger group, we would find ourselves working for eachother, providing for eachother. Of course, this would require a sense of mutual responsibility. So much for idealism.