single header

If you want to comment online, use the Reply form following this commentary.

FROM MY CORNER: Socialism vs Capitalism

Howell Hurst Economy & Finance, Humans, People, People Politics, Poverty

This commentary is longer than my usual short essays. It is a copy of a piece I submitted to the newspaper, The Epoch Times, responding to a very long series of pages they recently published bashing all forms of Socialism in what I judged to be the broadest, most general, and utterly biased manner. (They refused to even discuss it, let alone publish it; so much for their alleged “Truth and Tradition” journalistic slogan, which seems to mirror Fox News’s “Fair and Balanced” one, and Trump’s endless distortions of the facts of life on our tiny planet.)

Here is a brief outline of the commentary.

  1. Capitalism vs Socialism is an over simplification of a far more nuanced issue.

  2. A combination of Capitalism and Socialism is a rational alternative concept.

  3. The benefits of such a combination accrue to all – rich and poor.

Capitalism and Socialism

Socialism.

The term Socialism, as frequently utilized today in Capitalistic countries, can refer to social assistance programs managed by government with the collaborative support of rationally regulated Capitalism.

Scandinavian countries, New Zealand, Canada, and even the United States to a degree, already have such “Socialistic” programs as part of their Capitalistic economies. The great political battle in America between Liberal and Conservative viewpoints, therefore, is more accurately a debate about what constitutes “economic freedom and security.”

The following quote from the capitalist publication Forbes is relevant to this important subject:

What we find . . . is the Nordic countries rank quite high on this index of economic freedom . . . the U.S. ranks 12th, we can find the Nordic countries in quite respectable rankings. Denmark ranks 15, Finland 17, Norway 25, and Sweden 27. In terms of numerical scores, Sweden is only 5% lower than the U.S. For further comparison, South Korea and Japan, both considered fairly pro-free market, rank 32 and 39, respectively.”

Neither socialism nor capitalism is necessarily a guarantor of total economic freedom and fair financial sharing. The issue is far more nuanced. Socialism, once applied to Russia and still largely functioning in China (although now combining a form of Capitalism) meant Communist government ownership of everything. Capitalism meant individual private ownership of everything. In most advanced countries, however, neither standing entirely alone has existed for quite some time, although universal non-profit medicine for all is commonly the norm except in the United States.

Social support of Capitalism, if called Socialism, is obviously not how we in America would describe what operates in Venezuela today, or in China. Such “Socialism” does not by our definition demand government control or oppression of businesses and citizens.

Capitalism.

Capitalism indicates an economy consisting primarily of privately-owned businesses, free of over-regulation by government, but with well-designed social support systems that help citizens when necessary with financial support when cast adrift by the inevitable upheavals of its recurring economic cycles.

Neither Capitalism nor Socialism has proven to be a remedy for all economic or financial ills. Freewheeling Capitalism’s competition produces some winners and some losers. Full Socialism inhibits individual initiative. It disturbs human financial interaction.

Capitalism embracing unethical predatory practices with no socially responsible regulation by government as the voice of a nation’s citizens, is not what is meant by Capitalism. Such Capitalism is an oppressive form of economy that makes many people victims of rich corporate owners taking little responsibility for the consequences of their actions or financial behavior upon  poor members of a country.

Combining Capitalist & Socialist Benefits

Since most all nations, including ours, already have some combined integration of both economic systems, does it not seem reasonable that we abandon the combative Liberal/Conservative street brawling that dominates our press, our politics, and our country? Why should we not accept this combination as the rational concept it is, and consciously and proactively refine its design to comprehensively accommodate all citizens of our country as recipients of equitably fair portions of the nation’s total wealth, of its Gross Domestic Product?

The political and ideological battle in America today is often characterized as being about people accepting government assistance in place of working for a living. With the massive Capitalist accumulation of retained profits at the highest corporate levels having created an economy that leaves one tenth (some thirty million) of Americans, at the poverty level, we should look at this phenomenon anew.

Thirty million Americans without adequate jobs and income are a dramatic economic loss to Capitalism. They are an abandoned, wasted capitalist market. Studies have repeatedly shown that it costs the country far more to ignore the problem than to utilize various social support solutions to help reintegrate all Americans into our economy.

How do we do that?  Several obvious remedies remain politically impossible so long as we continue to maintain our individually-biased, irrational Left/Right, Capitalist/Socialist ideological conflict.

Millions of Americans continue to work more than forty hours a week. Why do we not reduce their hours by ten percent and share that work with the unemployed thirty million? The spurious argument is too often that the thirty million are incapable of being trained to fill the jobs. Thirty million Americans are incapable of being trained? What rational studies prove that claim? None that I know of.

Why do we not mandate by law that corporations must award part ownership, to proven valuable employees, and engage them as managers at their various levels of work. This has been proven repeatedly to work very well and increase production and profits for corporations. But it remains blocked by ideological biases of owners of corporations without valid justification.

Why do we continue to allow the Federal Government to own massive non-park real estate that could at the very least be made available in a minimum of small lots on long-term mortgage contracts? This would insure no poor American has to go homeless if supplanted with the financial ability through a social support system to build simple beginner homes.

How can poor Americans obtain financial life-supporting jobs when corporate and government policies block such jobs from existing? Corporations like Walmart force many of their employees to obtain social support from government because they refuse to pay them living wages. And it remains legal. Why?

How can the poor get out of their dilemma as banks lend them money for housing they cannot afford, then reclaim the property, and the banks receive Socialistic financial bailouts from government, while the poor remain without jobs or income?

It is factually indisputable that the Capitalist corporate top-level management has taken the largest share of our country’s wealth and created a massive income disparity that forces millions of poorer, often uneducated people to remain poor because the jobs they are required to acquire simply do not exist.

The Epoch Times noted, when I requested the invitation to write this commentary, that there is not enough time to allow this. However, after Epoch has written many pages opposing Social Support, how can it justify blocking independent writers from more thoroughly exploring the subject?

The Epic Times and independent writers are not natural enemies. We simply may hold differing perspectives of an existential problem, the solution of which demands we hear one another and find rational, pragmatic solutions. The real issue is the condition of human lives. Humans must have jobs and incomes. A nation’s economy cannot carry ten percent of its population as non-income earning citizens without damaging its over-all economy.

We are all in this together. We need to stop arguing ideologies and put together programs to deal with the situation. That requires we step away from purely short-term-profit-only endeavors and, instead, create means to share work, ownership, and income with all citizens. Doing so will equitably revive one tenth of our total domestic market, which will strengthen our Capitalism.

People are the fundamental reason a country is constituted and exists. Both  management and employees should receive life-sustaining incomes and partial ownership of resources. That should include jobs specifically shared with all workers. Labor has too long been minimalized by corporations.

It is surely not unreasonable to suggest that both wealthy and poor need to become, not equal but equitable, winners in our economy. That mandates combining the two stuttering economic systems into a single functioning one. Arguing that this is utopian is simple abdication of a responsibility that a Capitalist democracy owes all its citizens.

Until next time,

Hal

Return to Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *