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Everything’s Good

A view I have advocated often in this blog is that capitalism isn’t the best economic system for our modern society. The issue became more prominent to me recently when I heard that the amount spent on advertising tobacco in the US is greater than what is spent on the space program. I’m not totally sure this is true because I have found conflicting information on the topic but it seems likely that there are huge amounts spent by the private sector for various frivolous purposes.

And then there was the economic crisis which was primarily caused by private financial organisations engaging in ridiculous and meaningless deals designed entirely to make money without contributing anything of any real value to society. And to add insult to injury the incompetent, greedy bankers involved continued to be paid huge bonuses, presumably financed from government handouts.

I’ve heard defenders of the system say that businesses and business people deserve the money they have because they are successful. But they define successful as making more money and they say they make the money because they’re successful. It’s another circular argument like the types of logic used by creationists and other groups who haven’t really thought through their beliefs carefully enough.

We are facing many problems today and there doesn’t seem to be much progress being made in solving them. It’s not that they can’t be solved, it’s more that the people with the most money don’t want to solve them. There’s plenty of food to feed everyone for example, but the wasteful capitalist food production and distribution system doesn’t work to distribute it fairly.

And we have problems with energy production and global climate change but there’s not enough people researching new energy production technologies. Not only that but less people are training for science and technology careers because it’s a lot easier to get a job in commerce and you get paid a lot better there.

So the wrong behaviour is rewarded and potentially more beneficial actions are stifled. Capitalism really doesn’t work but what’s the alternative? People quite correctly point out that alternatives such as Soviet Russia failed so that doesn’t seem to be a viable option. But there are other options. I’m not totally sure what they are but I think the first step is to admit that we need to look for them. Pretending that everything’s good while things really get worse just isn’t good enough.

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  1. March 22, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Well strictly speaking, capitalism is as ridiculous as communism. Both are extremes. Modern economies rest somewhere between the two. Hence the term ‘mixed’ economies.

    I agree that the balance needs to be adjusted more towards greater regulation, intervention and redistribution.

    But not so much that incentive dies.

    It’s a very delicate game. And the results will never be perfect. Humanity isn’t perfect.

  2. ojb42
    March 22, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    I agree that most philosophies: political, economic, etc are untenable in their pure form. I also agree that there is no pure capitalism anywhere today. But many people want to move towards that as an ideal and I want to point out that we shouldn’t be doing that. I don’t know if greater regulation, etc is the answer because that just creates more bureaucracy. We need something simpler than that but, as I said ion the post, I’m not sure what that should be!

  3. March 23, 2010 at 2:54 am

    You’ve inspired to write a post. One that answers none of our questions…

    http://stephen-driscoll.com/2010/03/23/the-great-economic-tension/

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