Right, this blogging business isn´t going as I´ve planned, so from now on I will make no more promises of what will come in the future! I´ll just take it day by day!
Today I had the following statement posted on my Facebook profile:
"As we evolve we rid ourselves of foolish ideas: Science supersedes superstition, evolution supersedes religion, and capitalism supersedes socialism. Get on board, fellow primates! Let´s evolve!!!!!!"
Shortly, my new friend Mark van Dyk, a very eloquent fellow, replied to it and the following conversation took place:
Mark van Dyk
Of course, without socialist ideas, we would have no roads, bridges, military, public education, police, or firemen! ;) Damn that socialism and all its services to humanity!
Aarya Amir Shayan (me)
Well, actually ALL of the above mentioned came long before the idea of socialism! For some reason you seem to think socialism is just a vague concept of people working together for no profit, just for the best of society. Well, I would challenge you to read your Engels and Marx before making such comments. Socialism is a very clearly defined concept. And even if you were right, that just goes to show that something better has come to replace socialism now.
Mark van Dyk
What I am getting at is anytime the government takes money from the people and redistributes it in the form of goods or services, this is a socialistic idea, regardless of when the idea came about. Surely you can see that our economy and society operates with capitalistic and socialist ideas. It would be utterly impossible to live in a purely capitalistic society.
Let's get something else straight, just so you know where I stand! :) I am not anti-capitalist. I do believe that capitalism without balance or checks creates vast inequality between the people holding capital and the people without capital. Capitalism unchecked will grow and grow until the resources of the earth are devoured. I believe, ultimately, in balance. Capitalism unchecked created poverty and horrible working conditions in America. Unions came about and changed that for the workers. Now, this does not mean that the unions may operate unchecked too! Unions create their own problems. What I am trying to say is that you cannot advocate one economic system above all others, because without balance, the system will fail. There must be balance and equality, equal opportunity to succeed and get services and goods for all people. This is humane. It is not important what we call the system of how we get there. Let's just get there! ;)
Ultimately, if I may digress slightly, we would all be doing much better if we reduced our desire for wealth. Wealth is meaningless and useless. If we all just worked enough to provide essentials, we would all be a lot happier! But, to the detriment of the world, it seems to be human nature to want more than they need. Herein lies the real problem of human economic systems.
Aarya Amir Shayan
*sigh* Mark, with all due respect, there weren´t many right points there... Would take me hours to answer all of the points I BELIEVE (but I might be wrong) you are mistaken on. I will try to so later on my blog, and then send u the link. All the best!
So, here is my reply to my friend Mark:
I sort of feel like a mosquito on a nudist camp; Don´t know where to start! You say:
"Ultimately, if I may digress slightly, we would all be doing much better if we reduced our desire for wealth. Wealth is meaningless and useless."
Well, with all due respect, who are you to say to anyone what makes them happy and what´s meaningless and useless for them? If YOU find wealth meaningless, that´s fine, but don´t tell me that I should feel that way too, because that is on the borderline of arrogance. And certainly don´t tell people in the developing world that they shouldn´t strive for wealth, because Zeus forbid they might actually acquire the same living standard as us! I hope you at least agree with me on THAT point, that our living standard in the affluent world comes from us striving for wealth, and the reason it has been so successful has been because of a free market.
"What I am getting at is anytime the government takes money from the people and redistributes it in the form of goods or services, this is a socialistic idea..."
Well, socialism certainly takes credit for the idea, but it isn´t socialism. It´s like saying that Nazism brought Volkswagen to Germany, and therefore building companies in countries is Nazism. The problem with your argument lies within the following: The same government you defend to redistribute wealth, puts billions into fighting a pathetic Drug War (over $100 BILLION per year now), puts $2, 000 toilets in Air Force One (money coming from the taxpayers pockets), fights wars that has absolutely no positive outcome for the actual taxpayers and so forth. When you talk about firemen, roads and such, you seem to be forgetting that ALL these could´ve been performed more efficiently by private contractors, without all the rest of the money going in to where the current government decides to put it, for example the Iraq-war. Now, don´t get me wrong, I am not for a complete eradication of the government, I do believe we need a government that works as a regulatory body, keeping companies from mistreating their workers or breaking laws and such. But not much else! Assuming that politicians can do the jobs better than companies specializing in these areas is somewhat confusing. Why not cut out the middle hand?
"I do believe that capitalism without balance or checks creates vast inequality between the people holding capital and the people without capital. Capitalism unchecked will grow and grow until the resources of the earth are devoured."
Probably the most incorrect statement of all the things you wrote. What is "Capitalism unchecked"??? What does it even mean??? That people aren´t restricted by geographical boundaries to trade and communicate with each other? That companies aren´t held back through tariffs and taxes to grow? That entrepreneurs don´t have to be limited to the resources and opportunities provided to them by the state they happened to be born in? That the right to and the protection of private property is 100% respected? Because these are the tenets of Capitalism, and wherever they have been allowed to flow, the result has been overwhelming positive. Inequality? Interesting that the countries with a predominantly Capitalistic system are also the countries with least inequality, whereas countries that don´t allow a free market have the largest inequality ratings. Taiwan and South Korea went from having a GPD as low as Ethiopia 30 years ago to today having the same level as Spain and Portugal. Capitalism brings wealth to everyone, not just the selected few that already have it, as you seem to be insinuating. Mauritius, the first African country that opened up its borders for free trade, was also the first African country to have a peaceful shift in power, following a democratic election. India has gone from being a developing country, with hundreds of millions of people living in absolute poverty, to become one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
But here´s the kicker: Inequality in wealth isn´t that important, really. It´s not important that the other guy has billions of dollars, when I don´t have anything. It´s like saying someone looks much better than me, and therefore it´s not fair that he gets more girls than me! What matters is that the people who are living under bad conditions improve their situations, and no system has ever proved to be as effective to fight poverty as Capitalism. Since 1981 Poverty has decreased monumentally, and looking at where this has happened, we find a direct, clear correlation between Capitalism and Growth.
You are right when you point out that there isn´t a pure Capitalist system out there, but this is not the point. The point is that when Capitalism is pure, it is effective, and the purer it is, the more effective it is.
"What I am trying to say is that you cannot advocate one economic system above all others, because without balance, the system will fail. There must be balance and equality, equal opportunity to succeed and get services and goods for all people. This is humane."
But that balance you so wish for is already built in within Capitalism! The Invisible Hand of the market clearly demonstrates this. The point about equal opportunity for everyone has been so misconceived over the years, especially in media, because it advocates an impossible, and most certainly an immoral value; Namely that all people, no matter their own ability should be given the same opportunity as someone else. If I am great at fishing, and you are a fantastic cobbler, but a terrible fisher, as bad as I am at cobbling, what´s the point that I should have the same opportunity as you to be a cobbler? And where would that leave our society? Each person should be given a platform to pursue their own individual happiness, and there should be no discrimination, but that´s where I believe the line should be drawn.
Michael Shermer shows in his book, "The Mind of the Market", that the market is clearly moral, because it is run by us, the consumers. You´re more than welcome to challenge me on this point, but for now, I will not delve in to it deeper. I just wish to say that your doomsday view on Capitalism is not backed up by neither the empirical data or the scientific research.
That´s all I can muster right now, after couple of beers. I hope that it is sufficient, and I apologize if at any point you feel I have been condescending, it has never been my intention!
All the best!