15
Sep
08

Is there an alternative to capitalism?

It’s been a dramatic day for the global economy with massive US financial institution Lehman Brothers filing for bankruptcy and Merrill Lynch being bought out by the Bank of America, both once champions of free market capitalism. Just last week, the US government effectively nationalised mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the UK government recently had to bail out Northern Rock. It’s got us asking not only if capitalism has failed but what’s the alternative?

If communism has been widely discredited and even environmentalism co-opted into the mainstream is there any viable alternative to the free-market capitalist system? This article suggests capitalism has an uncertain future. Do we need more of a Chinese approach to capitalism? Or would you just like to see more regulation by national governments?

Is it the case, as this article suggests, that banks are too unwilling to accept responsibility for the downturns? Or should we accept a big-bonus, high-risk capitalist culture as the only way to do business?

Let us know what you think….


81 Responses to “Is there an alternative to capitalism?”


  1. September 15, 2008 at 18:54

    It has been coming for a number of years and to see the US nationalising banks is, in one way worrying, but in another refreshing.

    The all hands off approach is a failure, as we are now seeing. The attitude that the market will save us all, again, a failure. What is needed is strong regulation but within the regulation plenty of leeway for businesses to be what they are. At one time business was a regulation unto itself. Then you got a piece of business history that has exploded out of control – and that is simple credit systems. Credit or leaning is the real problem we have today.

    This is proved with the crash in the housing market – why was that even allowed in the first place?

    Governments have to take control of these institutions – we see that governments have been concentrating on the in-field rather than looking further. While governments have looked to controlling the individual lives of their citizenry they have taken their eyes off the ball.

  2. 2 roebert
    September 15, 2008 at 19:47

    It’s not so much about alternatives to capitalism, as about a different approach to productivity and markets: in other words, it’s about sustainability: living, working, producing, consuming, within the limits set by planetary resource constraints.

    With regard to financial aspects within society, we probably need to rediscover some sort of ‘just price’ system, so that artificial inflation and over-valuation don’t become factors leading to eventual collapse. Credit discipline is crucial. But basically we need to learn how to distinguish between need and greed,so that capitalism can benefit everyone. That seems simplistic. But what other way, short of marxist engineering, can there be?

    • February 12, 2010 at 09:33

      Roebert!
      Forget any ideas of equality or control. Although, we in the western world are relatively wealthy, neither you nor I would be prepared to lower our standard of living voluntarily to share and give parity to the third world.
      It’s called, ‘Human nature,’ You will always try to get my slice of the cake to make your life better.
      Do you shop at outlets guilty of employing slave labour?
      Are you happy knowing that, although you are out of work and receiving social hand-outs you can still afford goods produced in the Far East?
      We watch South American children scavanging waste tips on the television until we become inured.
      It has taken thousands of years to partialy domesticate the wolf, so forget it pal.
      Grab your seat on the gravy train. Fat bankers and corrupt politicians know that life for them would be intolerable if they stopped trickling down enough for us to think we are OK.
      Go out and buy an extra bottle of wine to enter the world of happiness.

  3. September 15, 2008 at 19:50

    Bill Gates had an interesting article in TIME a few weeks back entitled “Creative Capitalism” It was an interesting read. Nothing too drastic or anything, but an interesting way to ‘change’ capitalism to work more in favor of ‘the people’ through social and consumer pressures.

  4. 5 Michael
    September 15, 2008 at 22:38

    No system will work like its theoretical ideal.

    Sure there are alternatives to capitalism . . . however, they will all have the same tendencies toward corruption that leads to the gross enrichment of some and impoverishment for others.

    Every system (whether capitalism, socialism, communism, etc.) needs some regulation to help prevent a small percentage of the population from attaining most of the wealth, as well as preventing a significant portion of the population from having a living wage and from acquiring any real wealth.

    Current problem with American capitalism is that it encourages people to become extremely wealthy at the expense of the demise of others. The notion of the American Dream has somehow shifted from the opportunity to work hard and have the possibility to succeed in private endeavors with the goal of everything necessary for a comfortable life. Now it shifts toward the materialistic right to step over and upon others and do whatever it takes to accumulate as much as possible, exceedingly beyond what is necessary for a comfortable life, with the goal being to win the competition of having and consuming the most, even when that means beating others down.

    Being a millionaire is not enough, multi-millionaire is not enough, even billionaire is not enough. It is no longer a dream to have the opportunity to work and achieve success, but a dream to win the competition to have and consume most.

  5. September 16, 2008 at 00:35

    Hi. It’s Simon here on the World Today.
    We’re picking up on this debate now and asking the question: “Is Greed Good?”
    Both Roebert and Michael have touched on it in their posts.
    You might not feel too much sympathy for some of the high-rolling money men who have had it good in recent years.
    But what about the rest of us?
    Are we also culpable? Do we all aspire to have things we can’t afford and actually don’t need?
    But if so, what’s wrong with that? Doesn’t that make the world go around?

    Let us know what you think.

  6. 7 Michael
    September 16, 2008 at 01:04

    Greed is an addiction . . . and greedy people, like most addicts, are primarily focused upon feeding that addiction to consume and acquire the unnecessary and achieve instant gratification at whatever cost (monetary or human) and rationalizing their addictive behavior so that they can continue without remorse.

    We are culpable when we fall into our own addictive patterns of greed or enable those around us to feed their own addiction to consume and acquire the unnecessary. It is a cultural culpability and we all bear some of the weight of responsibility.

    Ultimately, cultural change (which often starts with individuals and small groups modeling different values) is necessary to make things different, not just economic systems or their regulators (also necessary, but not sufficient).

  7. 8 Michael
    September 16, 2008 at 01:24

    Since they each have a play in our socio-political situation, perhaps it is helpful to discuss all the contributing major addictive behaviors:

    greed, pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger and sloth.

    Change comes from individuals and small groups modeling the virtuous behaviors:

    faith, hope, charity, prudence, temperance, courage and justice.

    The result of that kind of change transforms the socio-political situation, both through personal examples from which others learn, as well as the formation of a government with integrity that regulates the socio-political system so as not to enable and reward the addicts.

  8. 9 Dennis@OCC
    September 16, 2008 at 02:19

    GREED is an addiction…..it needs to be treated…

    Dennis

  9. 10 Shirley
    September 16, 2008 at 02:24

    My family are staunch Republicans and devoted to capitalism; but today at lunch, they asked why corporate wealth had to be tossed around to casually for things like game shows when there exist so many people in the States who are hungry, lack clothing, or have inadequate housing. Even they seem to have recognised the built-in failures of rampant capitalism: the wealth simply has not 34;trickled down" to the rest of us; and until someone forces the wealthy to trickle it down, it won't trickle down.

    If closing the gap between the poor and the wealthy seems like too much to ask, then let us at least start by providing life's essentials to those who, by themselves, cannot afford them.

    I think that it does not be asked, though, why there exists a class of pople who cannot afford life's basic necessities in the first place.

  10. September 16, 2008 at 02:39

    Shirley~

    When I was a child, back in the days before TV, there was a game show on the radio called “A Queen for a Day.” There would be four contestant ladies who would tell their sob story. At the end of the show, they would use a clap meter, and the person who got the most applause won a little money and some product. It went on to be an early TV hit too.

  11. September 16, 2008 at 03:32

    The pure form of any of the defined economic structures suffers from the same Achilles’ tendon. Human nature. The US has never been purely capitalist. regulations of Monopolies is a non-capitalistic idea.

    Capitalism works well when the government remains separate from it. I think I wrote on the blog earlier this week. The citizen’s job is to make wealth as fast and as much as they can following the rules. It is the government’s job to see to it that the system remains healthy. When members who are supposed to be regulating the system get involved in using it to make themselves wealthy, it starts to break down. That is the reason we all quest for honesty and integrity in our politicians.

    A healthy capitalistic system is not measured by the wealth in it, but by how fast money flows through it. That is why “trickle down” approaches often fail.

  12. 13 Tom D Ford
    September 16, 2008 at 03:52

    “,,, is there any viable alternative to the free-market capitalist system?

    Yes. Well regulated and enforced Liberal progressive economics made great strides in reducing and preventing the problems that we have always seen created by Conservative Free Markets.

    Well Regulated Markets with a safety net at the bottom and progressive tax policies for the top was like a rising tide that lifts all boats. Everyone benefited.

    Some people driven by greed were allowed to get wealthy but within limits and the people at the bottom who had bad fortune were not allowed to starve.

    We can do this, we’ve done it before. It ain’t magic, it’s just common sense.

  13. 14 Jonathan
    September 16, 2008 at 03:53

    @Will

    What does “At one time business was a regulation unto itself” mean?

  14. 15 Shirley
    September 16, 2008 at 04:12

    Tom D Ford
    When have we successfully used well-regulated markets in the past?

  15. 16 Michael
    September 16, 2008 at 04:16

    @ Dwight

    You wrote:

    “Capitalism works well when the government remains separate from it.”
    and
    “It is the government’s job to see to it that the system remains healthy.”

    How can the government remain separate from the system, if it’s job is to maintain the health of the system by regulating it?

  16. 17 Michael
    September 16, 2008 at 04:30

    @ Tom D Ford

    Can you give a better explanation of “Liberal progressive economics”, as well as an example of how it was “well regulated and enforced” and when it has been successfully used.

  17. 18 Jonathan
    September 16, 2008 at 05:01

    @Shirley~

    “Why is there a class of people who cannot afford life’s necessities?”

    That class would be called the “dead” class, by definition, if they can’t afford life’s necessities.

    If you just mean “poor people,” In most of the world, the answer is because there’s no work to be had, or if there is, it pays very poorly.

    In rich countries, um, it’s because they don’t work.

    It’s not really a “class” as ordinarily defined. Also, “life’s necessities” are continually defined upward, and defined differently in different places. The average person in rural China or India would be hugely amused to see how “poor people” live in the USA, and the average poor American would find it very educational to see how the average person lives in the real poor world. Or even the ordinary world.

  18. 19 Jonathan
    September 16, 2008 at 05:37

    @Simon

    I would very much have liked to participate in this–it’s a personal interest of mine. But your link just leads to the World Today archives.

  19. 20 roebert
    September 16, 2008 at 05:50

    Simon: Greed can most simply be measured to the extent that people amass wealth beyond the basic human needs for food, clothing, shelter and the required comforts and utilities that make life a happy experience. I am sure that everyone who achieves success in business reaches a point at which they say,’I now have enough, and to spare.’ From that point on the danger exists that the amassing of money becomes an end in itself, with a no-limit goal attached. At the point where excessive accumulation of money and goods begins, we begin to deprive others of ‘what is out there’ for their needs too. That’s the basic philosophy.

    Wealth-potential is not infinite, any more than real resources for creating wealth are infinite. In this finite system it is possible to take more than our share. Individuals can do it, and whole societies can do it. Ten meals on the table: two people over-eat, the remaining eight go hungry.

    Our capitalist systems are essentially Darwinistic, and they mirror the neo-humanist obsession with applying Darwinism to every aspect of our endeavour, including our economic endeavour. But this pattern is a denial fo what, as human beings, we actually are. We are more than the products of evolution with its principle of adaptive ‘fitness’. We are also moral beings, morality being a function, not of sentiment, but of intelligence. If we apply our intelligence to a proper understanding of our limited resources in relation to the total need, we can make a start at diminishing greed, and finding out total human fulfilment (just call it happiness) in activities and endeavours that are not money-based.

  20. September 16, 2008 at 06:00

    Michael,

    Metaphorically speaking, the concept is kind of like that of the International Boxing Federation has a job of making rules and ensuring the fights are set up fair, but they don’t pick boxers they want to win and they make rules to ensure fair competition. However, they don’t get in the ring and fight. Policies are the rules and the fighters need be equally matched. not a perfect metaphor, but as close as I can come.

    Policy makers at their best look at the system and identify problems. For example one might think, “There is a lot of wealth in our system, but for some reason it keeps pooling in the hands of only a small amount of the population and causing it to stall. What can we do to the system that will encourage that wealth to move and yet still stay true to the system we have set up?” In this case, depending upon his/ her political ideology a policy maker might consider starting more social programs to encourage financial growth or maybe allowing successful businesses to retain more wealth to encourage growing or starting new businesses. Funding for the policy shift could be done by raising taxes which leaves smaller amounts in net pays or it could be done my putting more bank notes into the system which will leave the net pay in tack but reduce the overall value of it.

    The decisions should be made with respect to the health of the economy. When policy makers are influenced by people who are interested in increasing their own wealth and/ or the policy makers own wealth is increased by the policy, the health of the system suffers. As an example, If a policy maker has vested interest in the oil industry and conducts meetings with the biggest oil companies to create policy, the result is bound to be a conflict of interest. Kind of like the IBF meeting with a boxer to ask him who he would like to fight next and where.

  21. 22 peter ranft
    September 16, 2008 at 06:49

    Who was the genius that believed the theory that bigger is better, the great depression taught the world that regulation was the answer and over the last thirty years the claim has been that business can do everything is better than the regulators. Just trust mega corporations who have no links to community anywhere, to support the poor, build general infrastructure and care about the environment, especially as is directly opposed to profit.

    WAKE UP people your democratically elected governments have been bought out by the lobbyist. Why else have community built services have been sold off to faceless men who do not care how they make profit as long as they do.

  22. 23 Tom D Ford
    September 16, 2008 at 06:52

    I have never seen what I would call a “perfect” society.

    But I have seen many different societies that work or don’t work in some parts and I think that we ought to look at all of them and take what has worked and combine the working parts into a comprehensive whole.

    It just seems to me that if you cut off the extremes and make them conform more with the middle that you prevent the abuses by the wealthy and you prevent the perennial poor from taking up radical ideas like revolutions or suicide bombings.

    Maybe when somebody acquires a hundred million bucks we ought to just say, “ok, you won, now you’re out of the game, let someone else play”.

    And I don’t object to having someone at the bottom doing some kind of work in return for the rest of us lifting him up by his bootstraps, I think that labor ought to be honored and valued.

    The idea that is taught in business schools that business does not concern morals, only the bottom line, ought to be rethunk, and revised, and that old idea of “brothers keeper” ought to be included in some way and form.

  23. 24 Michael
    September 16, 2008 at 06:53

    Dwight,

    Thanks for the elaboration . . .

    I guess you meant that the separateness between the economic system and the government is not a matter of an unregulated system, but a matter of regulators avoiding conflicts of interest and corruption.

    If that is the case, it sounds like you think the current US economic system, in and of itself, is sound (though perhaps various economists will disagree upon methodology of regulation) but that the economic system is plagued by some corrupt politicians and regulators influenced by some businesses and individuals working outside the regulations. And that you believe if we had honest and courageous politicians and regulators resistant to corrupt influence the economic system would be healthy.

    But, I get the feeling that you think this may be an insurmountable problem.

  24. 25 Michael
    September 16, 2008 at 06:59

    @ roebert

    Thank you for pointing out that as human beings, we are moral beings . . . your faith and hope in humanity’s ability to overcome immoral behavior is quite important.

    I believe when we focus upon building virtues (such as faith, hope, charity, prudence, temperance, courage and justice), we can overcome our moral challenges.

  25. 26 roebert
    September 16, 2008 at 07:38

    Michael: I tend to equate ‘morality’ with the ‘principle of reason,’ as the stoa did. It’s not a strictly Benthamite or utilitarian approach (morality is useful to societies etc.), it’s not a religious principle either, but has more to do with real human dignity; the dignity of sanity. Morality is an integral part of our sanity; the further we depart from the principle of harmlessness (which is what morality essentially is) the more psycho-social damage we do to ourselves both as individuals and as communities. And that damage has a cumulative effect, one of which is rampant, ruthless greed. So, again simplistically, we have a reasonable duty to work against what is harmful in capitalism, and that is greed and the accompanying ruthlessness of greed. Greed= one manifestation of insanity.

  26. 27 Shirley
    September 16, 2008 at 07:48

    17 Jonathan September 16, 2008 at 5:01 am
    That class would be called the "dead" class, by definition, if they can't afford life's necessities.

    There is a sort of in-between state where one has vertical slats – usually of wood – that support flat metal sheets and calls it a house and does not have electricity, running water, or health care; and only the kind of food that does not provide adequate nutrition and clothing that clings one thread to the other for dear life. I drove through areas like that on a trip through the southwest.

    In rich countries, um, it's because they don't work.

    My family did. Several mininum-wage incomes in one houshold, in some cases. And while we had more than just wooden slats and metal sheets, we knew some of the other hallmarks of poverty. Personally acquainted. First name basis. Been there. Done that. T-shirt. Some of us have really managed to drag ourselves out of that hole. Others simply were not able to beat the wages-less-than-necessities equation and still struggle to maintain. It seems as if half of our town shows up at the local food pantry; and sometimes, it feels like a family reunion. And these are all working households.

    Also, "life’s necessities" are continually defined upward, and defined differently in different places.

    I would say that, at mininum, people are ___ to shelter that protects from the elements and preserves one's health from infections, clothing that protects one's body from the elements and provides coverage in keeping with the level of modesty practised by his culture, acess to health care to such an extent that one can remain disease- and ailment-free and thrive, food that provides such nutrition as is needed to remain disease- and ailment-free and to promote growth (in contrast to "failure to thrive"), and amenities suc as access to water to such a degree as to promote phsyical health and a healthful hygiene. There are people out there who would consider an AC, a vacuum cleaner, and laundry machines to be luxuries. I have the t-shirt for that, too. My family is not in the same position in which we once were (thank God!), but – as an example – this dino of a computer, hassle though it may be, is definitely a luxury in the eyes of my family.

    Oh, whatever on earth is that word?? Mods, if you think of it, feel free to plug it in.

  27. September 16, 2008 at 07:59

    Michael,

    To get to a point with perfect efficiency is insurmountable, but taking steps in the relative right direction is not. I think a lot about what the best options to improve the system and hence the person who demonstrates the best ideas to improve it. In the US where the population gets to have a say about who they think the individual is best suited for the task based on marketing techniques rather then an understanding of the issues, the chance of positive corrections do seem futile. Often I am left feeling I have to choose between candidates I think is going to corrupt it less. I think there are many red herrings. People argue over more or less taxes with out consideration of the value of the dollar. People are fighting over health insurance and not asking the question, “why can’t I just pay the doctor when I need him?” People are willing to fear extremist and physical attacks from abroad, but the truth is most of us will die from the cheese burgers we consume buy the “billions”. We fight over the illegal immigrants coming into our country to take our jobs, while we pay no attention as the selling off of our assets to emerging economies. Getting people to prioritize seems insurmountable.

    You have stated my perspective about perfectly. Lol, and in much fewer words. A flaw of mine.

  28. 29 Eva Campbell
    September 16, 2008 at 08:00

    Has Capitalism failed – or is it just greedy people up to the old tricks.
    We could have communism – that’s proved to be no good many times.
    What about Islamic rule – God help us all, as a woman I would be dead meat.
    Facism – jack boots and all?

    Mostly we have all prospered under Capitalism – Just lets stop being so greedy!

    Marge

  29. 30 Steven
    September 16, 2008 at 08:08

    I have been a real estate agent in Dallas, TX for almost 6 years now. I watched the US real estate market seem to take on the same characteristics as the US stock market during the dot.com days of the late 1990’s. The last three years were really insane. Real estate agents and mortgage brokers both knew how important it was for their businesses that the loans being made to homebuyers (their clients) could be sold into the “secondary market” – the secondary market being Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    In Dallas, the real estate market was slightly inflated. However, in Florida and California, the markets were hyper-inflated and California banks could legally (and were willing to) lend 125% of the value of the home. Add to that no down payment purchases by marginal buyers (what we normally call “C” paper) the guarantee that Freddie and Fannie will buy the loans that conformed to their guidelines, then the stage was almost set for disaster. The only thing needed to make the disaster into an all-out catastrophe was to ability to make the “C” paper look like “A” paper so the greedy wall street investors could easily sell the loans off as normal mortgage-backed securities. Sadly, I believe that the head of Citigroup (about a year before taking over that post) lobbied to change the law that would have made that practice illegal. Thus, it seems that the end result is going to be a world of humans that get punish because of the greed of the high-rolling money men while high-rolling money men don’t even risk getting punished by the law. So, no. Greed is not good. It is one deadly sin.

  30. 31 Jennifer Woodhull
    September 16, 2008 at 08:10

    Like any habit, greed is a muscle that is strengthened each time it’s exercised. The objects of greed are interchangeable; what they are isn’t nearly as important as that there be more of them. Take away easy access to the current economic gateways and greed will find others. This isn’t a problem that can be treated by making it harder to get at money. Just like criminals in South Africa, where I live, greed will always find a way to keep a step ahead of our attempts to safeguard our respective territories. What’s needed is a radical re-visioning of the worldview that supports the maintenance of territories, altogether. So if the planet is to survive, we should all be fervently hoping that there is an alternative to capitalism. Greed is an inevitable bedfellow of capitalism, whose basic premise is that some will prosper at the expense of others.

  31. 32 Michael
    September 16, 2008 at 08:32

    @ roebert

    For certain, my philosophies have been influenced by many years of Catholic education and so have a religious flavor. My sense of morality is grounded in a Thomistic approach. Thomas Aquinas’ theology/morality is rooted in a rational tradition that is grounded in, but not limited to, Aristotle’s approach to reason.

    When reduced to principles of intelligent behavior, I think it may not be too different from your own principle of “harmlessness”.

  32. 33 Michael
    September 16, 2008 at 08:40

    I am wondering how financial speculation plays into a capitalist economic system.

    It seems to me that speculation is purely an activity of making bets or hedging bets upon what value commodities and investment vehicles may have in the future. Speculation seems to be an activity that does not really involve the production of any goods or provision of any real services. So, on the surface, I would think that, in general, the practice of speculation is harmful to capitalism, but it seems that there may be more to it.

  33. 34 roebert
    September 16, 2008 at 09:24

    Michael: nothing wrong with Thomism, nor with Catholicism, if it is practised with sincerity. It’s my own background, too, and enriched me tremendously. In many ways, the Church continues to be in the forefront of the fight against poverty, and real, practical concern for the poor. Has the Church issued a statement on universally responsible economics as the Dalai Lama has done? If so, I’d like to see it.

    For some good ideas on alternatives to the current system, read up Samdhong Rinpoche, prime minister of the Tibetan-govt-in-Exile.

  34. 35 Pangolin- California
    September 16, 2008 at 09:27

    Capitalism has the nasty habit of pretending that there is some kind of rubbish bin the the rejected bits of humanity can be tossed into without affecting the happy rich people. Too bad reality doesn’t work that way.

    People born wealthy suffer disease, addictions and psychosis just as the poor do and the poor are born with all the talents of the rich. The nasty bit is when the rich reserve the social tools for advancement for their progeny regardless of ability, knowledge or talent.

    Then we get where we are today. A scion of a wealthy family George W. Bush sits in the pResidency and presides over the ruin of a nation while another scion John McCain prepares to take his place. Neither of these were ever the brighest lights on the string and in actual fact spent their time on the dim but priviliged side.

    So what will the smart but excluded people do when they are denied their turn at the wheel? What do they useally do? I bet it’s not pretty.

  35. September 16, 2008 at 09:42

    @Michael and speculation?

    Just before I refreshed the page I was discussing the dropping oil prices with a friend. Something very strange happened yesterday. Oil prices dropped and so did the value of the dollar. They are usually inversely proportional. A theory that I have is that as we approach that price where a lot of future speculators jumped on the wagon, many are jumping off. That in turn is pounding the price of oil down at a much faster rate. Speculation exists as a parasite on a capitalist economy. It can drive prices up faster when the trend is headed in that direction. Consumers of the overly priced commodity suffer during those periods. However, when the pricing trend starts to sink downward, consumers benefit from a temporally flooded market due to the saturation. It seems if this is true, that speculators add an “intoxicated” affect to the pricing of goods. Series of corrections and over corrections cause pricing instability. In the end the average price over the cycle is about the same as if there were no speculators.

  36. 37 Jack Hughes
    September 16, 2008 at 10:25

    @Michael,

    Speculation is the foundation of futures markets.

    Imagine I am a UK company – nearly all my costs are in British Pounds. I have just won a big export contract – to be paid for in 6 months time in US Dollars.

    If the dollar dives then I am in trouble. If the dollar climbs I have made a big profit on the currency movement.

    I can take this risk myself – or I can sell forward dollars in a futures market. In the latter case a speculator is taking the risk on himself – away from me.

    This means I can concentrate on making and selling widgets.

  37. 38 Katharina in Ghent
    September 16, 2008 at 10:25

    One thing that strikes me about the current crisis is that, while Wall Street suffered a big plunge, it’s only the worst of the last couple of years, all post 9/11. Worse may yet still be to come, but the other possibility is that the media is overreacting? It seems that the crash in 1987 was still worse, not to mention crashes before that.

  38. 39 Jonathan
    September 16, 2008 at 10:29

    @Michael – speculation

    There is indeed “more to” the role of speculators in a market. They supply “liquidity.” Let’s take a futures market in pork bellies, or better yet, crude oil, or kerosene, whatever. The reason to have a futures market is to even out things like seasonal spikes in agriculture (so farmers don’t go broke between harvests), and consumers can “hedge,” to protect themselves against price changes. For example, Southwest Airlines cleverly protected themselves against the huge rise in the price of jet fuel until recently, and gained a competitive advantage, by essentially buying “future” fuel back when it was cheap.

    For Southwest to be able to make that “bet,” someone had to take the opposite “bet,” that is, that oil prices were going to stay low, or decline further. That “someone” is a speculator, or really a whole bunch of speculators. Their loss was Southwest’s gain, and its passengers’ gain.

  39. 40 roebert
    September 16, 2008 at 10:34

    Pangolin: ( On the light-hearted side: I once created an impossibly fictional animal called the “jangfurr”, and later I discovered that it actually exists, in Africa, and is called the “Pangolin.”) – thoughts of revolution? My own personal struggle is how to get free from the capitalist system that enslaves us, mind, body and all. A good start is to radically simplify your financial life. You have to kick against the mindset that wants to draw you ever-deeper into the vaults of your bank and all the other credit traps. It is really important to me to get myself as independent as possible, and to hate the system for all I am worth: to see it as my enemy and the enemy of all people, and of the earth itself. The thing is, you can only go so far…if you want to go on living a decent life. What’s needed is a mass-rebellion of Gandhian proportions around the world. But there’s not much hope of that.

  40. 41 Jonathan
    September 16, 2008 at 11:05

    @Katharina~

    You raise an interesting point. The thing is that fluctuations in the stock market aren’t necessarily related to changes in the real economy. For instance, the market dip in 1987 was an isolated (and still unexplained) anomaly that lasted a week or two as I recall. The fundamentals really WERE sound. The Fed squirted a bit of money around, and it was all better.

    Monday’s big adventure wasn’t the 3% drop in the Dow, but the bankruptcy of one of the top five investment banks (already down to four because of Bear Sterns’ succumbing a few weeks before) and the absorption of yet another, just half a step ahead of the grim reaper, and the fact that this time, no obliging foreigners cared to chip in, having seen their previous infusions of cash evaporate. And the fact that the Fed and the Treasury Dept. declined to bail anyone out, directly or under the table as with Bear.

    The reason for the collapse of the leading investment banks in the richest country in the world is their heavy investment in securitized mortgage loans. That same exposure has cost tens of billions of dollars to banks all over the world. There’s already a recession in Europe, and property prices are down an average of 20% or so in the US. Worst of all, nobody knows when the bottom will be reached. Every one of the last few quarters has had banks writing off another $20 billion in this paper, and turning out to have still more of it next quarter.

    In short, this wasn’t just a stock blip, but the rumble of a distant earthquake, getting closer.

  41. 42 Vernon
    September 16, 2008 at 11:09

    It’s a matter of founding our lives on the power and principles of God’s kingdom as explained in the New Testament. Out of that will come practical ways of interacting on all levels in society including financially.

  42. 43 Jonathan
    September 16, 2008 at 11:09

    @roebert

    Not much hope of a Gandhian rebellion? Maybe that’s because nobody wants to be poor, even in India, if they have an alternative? OK, almost nobody. It’s more fun as a romantic fantasy for the well-fed than for the actual starving peasants.

  43. 44 roebert
    September 16, 2008 at 11:30

    Jonathan, delighted. Did you read the rest of my post? It’s about the way I feel; an authentic sentiment that can’t be argued away by a clever response. There are a number of serious arguments against ruthless capitalism, backed by well-founded research and alternative apologetics. By ‘Gandhian’ I am implying non-violent protest/revolution, not the preference for poverty. If you were versed in Gandhian thinking, you would understand that it, too, does not propound universal poverty as the solution. It demands a change in mindset as the real beginning for changes in economic systems. The point of my post is that it is unlikely that such a mindset-change will occur en masse. Ultimately, although I’d personally like to see such changes, I don’t believe that the time left to people, coupled with the relative lack of insight and motivation, will allow those changes to happen. It’s too late.

  44. 45 selena in Canada
    September 16, 2008 at 12:06

    @Kathi

    The world is different today than it was in 1987. Today, we are in a global economy. Governments are not in control. Corporations are in control and governments are powerless to do anything but support the floundering situation with money. And it is dubious where the money originates for this support.

    Because the economy is global, there is no precedent for what is happening. We cannot even feed ourselves locally in North America because we have outsourced food production.

    Where I live if the food trucks were stopped for a week we would have no food. It is not much different anywhere else. Everything is intertwined.

    This is a global crisis. If people stop spending, money no one will buy goods from India and China. They only answer is to try to get back to local economies. But we may be too far gone to recover locally. The land has been used for anything but agriculture and there is no fish in the sea.

    We are not very bright as a species. The west is on its way down and we are taking the rest of the world with us.

    Maybe out of the ashes a phoenix will emerge and a dolphin will swim. But we have to learn a lesson that greed is not a compassionate ruler.

    phoenix will emerge. But this cannot happen unless we have learned a lesson. It is not good to be ruled by greed.

  45. 46 Roberto
    September 16, 2008 at 12:50

    It’s got us asking not only if capitalism has failed but what’s the alternative?
    ———————————————————————————————————–

    ————– Let’s be clear here, capitalism is just a tool long practiced in proto-primative form before some egghead invents writing, slaps a name on it, and defines it for the unwashed masses.

    This is a failure of humans whereby those with the power have created a massive shell game of finances that has legalized robbery.

    This fits in with a consistent history of tens of thousands of years of human upheavals, bloody wars, slavery, rape and pillage.

    The only alternative to failed capitalism is better managed capitalism with better government oversight, which would require better leaders, which would require better voters.

    Keep in mind though, this concept of failed capitalism is actually highly successful capitalism for the 0.000001% of the world’s elite who’s only concerns are how to keep their massive capital in working instruments designed to vacuum up ever increasing amounts of the world’s capital.

  46. 47 Michael
    September 16, 2008 at 16:20

    @ Jonathan, Jack Hughes and Dwight,

    Thanks for putting speculation more into context, I figured there must a complicated, but often helpful role it plays in the system

  47. 48 Shirley
    September 16, 2008 at 16:27

    32 Michael September 16, 2008 at 8:40 am
    I am wondering how financial speculation plays into a capitalist economic system.

    Based on your description, it would amount to making or losing money based on chance. The Islamic prohibition on gambling is based on the fact that money comes or goes because of a situation of chance over which the person has no control. One of the goals of Islam is to preserve the concept of one earning his money. This is why interest is strictly forbidden; and it serves as one of the bases for the prohibition of gambling and other games of chance with monetary outcomes.

  48. 49 Shirley
    September 16, 2008 at 16:34

    Catholic Economics
    some links

    Catholicism, Protestantism, and Capitalism is a book available for sale at loretopubs.com.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church is available online; and according to Google. Look for the link to books.google.com.

    There is an article on Britannica.com about the Catjhoic Church and economics. One needs to have a subscription to read more than the first sentence and a half, of course. Jerks. To read any amount of the same article at this link, you need a subscription.

    Here is one tht is easily available online: Catholicism and Economics by Christopher Westley.

    now to get this post fished out of the spam filter (multiple links)

  49. 50 Michael
    September 16, 2008 at 16:34

    @ roebert

    re: Catholicism, you asked: “Has the Church issued a statement on universally responsible economics?”

    I think the first of such official statements or encyclicals was called Rerum Novarum (encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on Capital and Labor) issued in 1891 and is the foundation to the Catholic teaching on social justice. As economics systems changed later popes issued “updates” to this on various anniversaries to it, most recently (1991) the encyclical Centessimus Annus (Pope John Paul II on the 100th anniversary).

    Also, on May 17, 2001, John Paul II gave a short address to the foundation for “Ethics and Economics”. It is an interesting and concise address, but does not carry the teaching authority of an encyclical.

    Both John Paul II and current Benedict XVI have made many statements regarding deep concerns about consumerism, materialism and individualism.

    All of these can be found (often in several languages) on the vatican website, which is very searchable for those who have interest in studying this more carefully.

  50. 51 roebert
    September 16, 2008 at 16:48

    Michael; Shirley: Thank you.

  51. 52 Alexis Massey-Ryan
    September 16, 2008 at 17:19

    Capitolism is possible, its just that recently some have taken it for granted (The ‘upper’ class) and the rest have had their attention diverted from the growing divide of rich and poor around the world by strategic news and TV show blanketing.

    We can still run with the simplistic system of token-giving but we need to look at how those who have the most control over the system, behave with our economies. Banks trading in debt, governments artificialy stimulating economies with oil money, companies creating over complicated trading systems. These have all contributed to our situation.

    What is hilarious is that these people at the top are fine, since they HAVE all the money, they don’t need to do anything.

    The moral, then, is ‘What if we said, well who cares about MONEY? What if we ignored the banks and went straight to bartering?’
    What hold do these tokens have over us if we ignore them?

  52. 53 Aidrous Elmi
    September 16, 2008 at 17:26

    WHEN THERE IS A PROBLEM THERE IS NO ZERO ALTERNATIVE. THERE MUST BE A BREAK THROUGH. YES THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE TO CAPITALISM. LET ME SAY THIS TIME OF FINANCIAL WOES COMMUNISTIC IDEAS ARE ADVISEABLE!!!!

  53. 54 Michael
    September 16, 2008 at 17:44

    @ Aidrous Elmi

    Which Communistic ideas do you recommend for such a breakthrough? And can you give your response without ALL capital letters.

  54. September 16, 2008 at 17:57

    @ Michael: capitalism and Catholicism.

    I consider myself an agnostic Christian. I believe Jesus Christ existed. I Beleive he presented the world with a plan that could bring peace and prosperity throughout. I can actually say that I “love” him for it. I just am not convinced of the source of the message. Not sure if there is anything on the other side of death, and by extension I am not sure he was the “Son of God”. I know I am still going to the “Hot Spot” if I am wrong.

    A social outline of minimalism, humbleness, humility, tolerance, and most important forgiveness would lead to a perfectly run capitalist system. Granted it would have taken longer to get to where we are today, but we would have done it with much more sound understanding.

  55. 56 Michael
    September 16, 2008 at 18:50

    @ Dwight: going to the “Hot Spot”

    If you are living a life based on the peaceful principles it seems that you hold, especially those of humility and forgiveness, I am not so certain that you will go to the “Hot Spot” (if it proves to exist) for your agnosticism (if it proves wrong in the end). After all, agnosticism does not deny God’s existence, it only demonstrates uncertainty. You might find “Pascal’s Wager” interesting.

  56. 57 Bernie
    September 16, 2008 at 19:04

    Capitalism and equity – U.S.A.

    Capitalism is probably the most efficient way to create wealth. Providing incentives to taking risk is the genius of capitalism.

    It seems to me that it is possible to keep these incentives and also have a method of ensuring that 5% of the population do not have 90% of the wealth and income while 95% of the population have 10% of the national wealth and income. I feel that one of the major activities of government is to use the tax system and specific programs which preserve entrepreneurial incentives but distribute wealth and income more equitably

    I guesses at these numbers. A better way is to use a measure of equality/inequality is the Gini Index.

    My perspective is formed by my education and experience – a physician specialising in Public Health trying to care for the un- or under-insured people in a very wealthy country.

  57. 58 John LaGrua/New York
    September 16, 2008 at 20:23

    Capitalism has proved to be the most effective system for allocating capital ,encouraging initiative and creativity.However, it is as all systems subject to abuse and excesses.When a society defines itself only in material terms then the mania and. distortions of acquisition occurs.The US showed the world in the post WW11 period the benefits of a capitalist ,industrial economy with is ability to provde a richer life to a large proportion of its’ people.It became the model to emulate and the worlds wealth grew as capitalism destroyed the socialist and communist pretensions to provide a competing alternative.Success ,however breeds excess and folly and the self destructing delusion that there are no risks in unlimited greed.The gods are roilled at Man’s’ theft of Promethian fire and Nemesis and the Furies strike to humiliate MAN for his hubris and outrageous presumption Moifications must be made to keep capitalism on track as all systems need periodic redisgn .The real problem ,however is human and Solon put best 1.” Know theyself , 2 Moderation in all things”.Time for soul searching..

  58. 59 Jonathan
    September 16, 2008 at 20:26

    @Bernie

    Hey there! My mom was a public health physician too.

    You said you “guessed at these numbers,” and I have to sugggest that guessed wrong. You made two fundamental mistakes: first, in thinking that distributions of wealth and income are the same. Wealth distribution, depending on how the figures are cooked, can look remarkably “inequitable.” But income, no way. Income distribution is a whole lot more “equitable.”

    The bigger mistake is to concentrate on equity at all. From a public health point of view, or any other except a doctrinaire Marxist, what matters more than equity is surely the prevailing level of wealth, whatever its distribution. That is, for example, as a rich country, even the poor have running water of reliable purity. That eliminates at one stroke all of the water-borne pathogens that account for most disease in the third world.

    It’s easy to think that if wealth were spread around equally, everyone would be wealthy, but it never works that way. When we’re all equal, we’re all equally poor, not rich.

  59. 60 Jonathan
    September 16, 2008 at 20:44

    @roebert

    I didn’t intend to dismiss your sentiments, and I didn’t imagine that Gandhi actually endorsed poverty. My point was that whatever the sentiment, however high-minded the ideals and apologetics, the practical result of Gandhi’s ideals when put into practice was mass poverty.

    And although you may condemn me as a low-minded, grubby materialist, I would propose that there’s at least a case to be made that the mind and soul might be better able to contemplate spiritual matters when one isn’t hungry or sick from poverty, or dead. Since we’re dropping names, I’ll put up Maslow and the “hierarchy of needs,” which when boiled way down makes that case.

    An empirical approach might be less satisfying than an ethereal theoretical one, but if the noblest of sentiments produces a quite different outcome in practice, I’d say that the theory is at fault, not the practice. Your mileage may vary, and I hope we may differ, if differ we must, with continued mutual respect.

  60. 61 Syed Hasan Turab
    September 16, 2008 at 23:59

    First thing capitalist look protection of his capital, secondly opportunity to make most profit. In this case five factor’s play’s important role:
    (a) Capital
    (b) Technology
    (c) Market
    (d) Production
    (e) Trade policy
    All these five factor’s are playing negative role with US economy as the corporates dont have any sincearity with country & general public, just running after the Capital Gains, now negative reasults are clearly visible in shape of Bankrupcy.
    Let me divide Bankurpcy in five clearly visiable groups:-
    (1) Complete Insolvancy.
    (2) Partial Insolvancy.
    (3) protectative Insolvency.
    (4) Forced Insolvancy.
    (5) Voluntrary Insolvancy.
    Keeping in view (a to e) five factor’s USA is victom of Voluntrary Insolvancy by way of transferring Capital, Technology & production (Jobs) to overseas along with humbleness to providing market corodore & favourable trade policy.
    Now common Tax payer’s pocket is empty even to pay the mortgage, travelling, luxries even living. All this financial drout is very serious may cause serious harm to Capitalism.
    As for as Bankrupcy is concerned these all are crockdial tears any sympathy & protectative Bankrupcy may please not be granted, and Garner V/S Murray kind of practice been followed at least public will not pay the most price being a trustee.
    Infact our financial culture & society is so materialistic because of old timer Capitalism system we need some improvement’s according to our requirement’s, just one way traffic may not last long in any prevailing system, even China is reforming his Financial & Economic structure.

  61. 62 Shirley
    September 17, 2008 at 01:57

    What improvements might be had in a system that aims not so much at equal distribution of wealth, but a more equitable distribution of it, combined with a required investment into society at large in ways that would improve the quality of life for everyone?

    In 2003 in the United States, 10% of the people controlled over 70% of the wealth. (February 25, 2003 ABC Evening News interview with Jim Morris of the United Nations World Food Program)

    I do not see the sense in some people living in mansions that have vastly more space than is necessary for basic life while others have inadequate shelter. I don’t think that imposing restrictions on the acquisition of wealth in order to distribute the wealth in a more equitable way needs to result in everyone living in huts made with planks of wood and sheets of metal. I do think that funds obtained from taxes on wealth can be invested into housing ventures, food programmes, public health and education, etc. I know that such a system is already in place in the States. The problem, I think, is that it has been eaten out from under us much in the same way that our Constitution has been eaten out from under us. I also think that a higher degree of regulation, especially anti-trust legislation, is necessary to balance out a society in which a small percentage of people controls a large percentage of the wealth.

    Just as pure socialism scares many people, pure capitalism scares me.

  62. 63 Syed Hasan Turab
    September 17, 2008 at 03:53

    The way we are trying to run our system is neither capitalism nor socialism, just we are trying to runaway from Governing or we are not ready to admit our failour nor we want to listin any criticeism.
    A healthy debate & criticism always help to find out solution. No doubt we suceed to ease the life in communisam at the cost of terrible life in USA. We open a corodore of Capitalism in Communisam & import indirect communisam in average American’s life, we have to think all aspects of this issue to find the solution.
    My Indirect Communisam term may please be understand below poverty line “WELFAIRE PRIDE SOCIETY” without any shame.
    I wish I have more time to continue the topic.

  63. 64 Tom D Ford
    September 17, 2008 at 06:39

    @ Syed Hasan Turab

    Please forgive me, I don’t understand completely what you are writing. Please write and explain more.

  64. 65 richard swain
    September 17, 2008 at 10:39

    Karl Marx predicted over 100 years ago that capitalism is doomed to failure. The unbridled competition is endemic in the system and will ultimately lead to destruction of everything of value. What we see now is simply the natural progression of a system unfettered by the democracy that capitalist elites have sought to liquidate ever since the rise of the power of the united working class over the last two centuries.

  65. September 17, 2008 at 11:36

    America’s Adam Smith (end-of-the-19th-century) capitalism has never had clothes. Since the late ’20s the US has had financial crashes, and every time the Feds bail out the very organizations whose reckless “get rich-quick” policies was the problem from the start. The rich bail out the rich. This has been the American pattern leading to every global crash since the late twenties.

    A recent first world survey of what its people want out of life found that Europeans want to be comfortable and happy. Americans want to be millionaires. That is why the Euro has steadily gained value against the US$.

  66. 67 Shirley
    September 17, 2008 at 13:25

    To me, it feels as if capitalism is designed to keep the wealth in the hands of those who are already wealthy. I write this admitting that I have only skimmed a Wikipedia article on capitalism once. But living in the States, viewing our history, I really do get this sense of things.

  67. 68 M.Rose
    September 17, 2008 at 14:04

    Someone somewhere must must have profited hugely from this fiasco.
    I am hearing all the doom and gloom but all this came about because investors decided to ingnore all the reasons why sub-prime loans were such a huge risk in the first place. Surely a group somewhere knew that subsequently these worthless financial instruments would eventually collapse and leapt out of this chaos with their billions intact. It’s not as if any of this was illegal but I am burning with curiosity to know the winners in all this. Again Governments around the world are now financing American greed. If the regulators ignored the obvious consequences then they were just as duplicitous. What will it take for the world to tire of being duped by greedy Capitalists?

  68. 69 M.Rose
    September 17, 2008 at 14:56

    Greed and the desire behind it can accomplish many things. Unbridled greed will never work because the very worst in human nature will always lead us to catastrophe. There will always be people who will not care about the consequences of their actions.

    As such, if lack of regulation or if the regulators do not do their jobs properly then unbridled greed is all we are left with. Without proper regulation we are basically powerless.

    I do not think individuals unaware of how their investments are being put to use could have put a stop this. Maybe I am wrong but the individuals need to acquire useless things is not the problem. If they had the necessary information and knew the risk they were being exposed to then it may have been a different matter for some people at least.

    With the inmformation ooverload out there maybe what we need are specialists, Regulators and Consumer Advocates, some souce that will put out basic information on harmful trends to do with as we will.

  69. 70 MRES
    September 17, 2008 at 15:53

    Yes there’s an alternative to capitalism. It’s called corporatism and it’s the predominant ideology that the the US and EU are currently based on. Capitalism would allow for individuals to grow with a particular idea/business, but unfortunately corporatism has squashed that idea and the whole notion of a ‘free market’ through masses of legislation in favour of corporates at the expense of people around the world. Patents and copyright are regularly used by major corporations as a weapon to bludgeon the little guy out of the innovation business, and ‘IP’ laws do nothing to protect the rights of the consumer in terms of fair-use, but hand the power to the corporates selling that ‘property’.

    The world is on it’s head, so personally I’m glad to see the downfall of corporatism, it’s been a long time coming and will help the majority world at the expense of the minority wealthy world. Let’s get back to a truly level playing field.

  70. 71 Syed Hasan Turab
    September 17, 2008 at 16:25

    In my openion USA is victom of Globilisation & Bubble creation, this is how we are giving up our manufacturing or industrial sector on the other hand appreciation to trading because bubble creation is quite easy in trading.
    All this economic slump never been created in over night & never been monitered by US responsible monitor’s from the very beginning.
    Now ordinary US citizen’s lost every thing in exchange of Globilisation pride, this pride may not fill up our stomich, may not provide shelter, may nor provide clothes and noway any luxry, in other word’s US Capitelist society is unknowingly moving towards communism as the choices are limited just QUEST CARD (ration card) & FORWARD CARD ( medical treatment) along with free transportation to doctor’s office, how long, how many, who is going to pay from where as a mass level lower class shifting is expected in near future.
    Thank God we have Agro base too otherwise we may not be able to face the challange of our unplanned jump in Globilisation fire, one thing is very clear that a capitilist have no boundries, no nationality, no sincearity with mother land & no love with fellow’s just greed.

  71. September 17, 2008 at 17:00

    An alternative to capitalism would be microeconomics or the system that exists in China.

  72. 73 Jrbj
    September 17, 2008 at 17:59

    That the subject of an alternative to capitalism should even come up is indicative of the fact that Europeans and others simply don’t understand the basic fundamentals of the system. There is no “perfect” economic system, nor has there ever been such a system. All have their weak points and flaws.
    The capitalistic system gives those who have the ambition and drive (I call it grit in their craw) to make something of themselves have every opportunity to do so under a capitalistic system. No other economic system will let someone rise up from shining shoes one day to running their own company somewhere down the road. The weak point, if you must call it that, in a capitalistic system is that you have no guarantees of success and you might fail. Then do you hang you head and fade away or do you pull yourself up and take another shot at it, doing something else? The biggest flaw in a capitalistic system is what we are experiencing now. We had people, on the one hand, who had no business getting a huge (mortgage) loan in the first place because they had done nothing with themselves to place then in a financially stable enough position to do so. Then we had people, in the financial industry, who were filled with materialistic greed and saw a chance to make a quick buck ,so they stuck their necks out and gave these people a sub-prime loan. Well, true to form, most of these people reneged on the loan and since a lot of our financials had bought up this sub-prime paper – in a fit of further materialistic greed – when the sub-prime borrowers reneged on their loan the whole financial industry was hit with the fall out. Does that mean that the whole system is a bad idea and should be junked? I hope to Hanna it sure is not! Some people who were a financial risk did a dumb thing and acquired debt beyond their means. Some greedy financial firms did a dumber thing and gave these financial risks money they never should have gotten. The expected result happened and it happened in a big way that pointed out who was the greediest because those firms are now out of business. There is a lesson to be learned here and the Wall Street financial firms have learned that lesson all too well. Now the financial community will be quick to police themselves and I doubt if you will ever see sub-primes again. The biggest threat here now is that the liberals in (U.S.) government will want to rush in with a bunch of laws and regulations that will do more harm than good, throw the baby out with the bathwater and cause action that will hurt business and the economy even more. Yes, there is a problem here, it has been recognized and it will be corrected. For a few months that correction will hurt, as well it should considering what was done, but the market will survive, the economy will come back to normal and everyone will still be here to enjoy it.
    If, as some have suggested, we were living in a socialist economy this problem would have never happened. However, in a socialist economy, where the emphasis is on equality, most of the people who have risen up and done something with themselves in a capitalistic economy would have never done so because they never would have had the chance to do so. Socialism, in its quest for equality, never brings people up; it only brings those who are up down to the level of the lowest common denominator were everyone can languish away in perpetual inadequacy. I have no intention of doing that and I’ll take a chance on falling on my face any day because, under a capitalistic system, I can still pick my self up and go at it again.

  73. 74 roebert
    September 17, 2008 at 18:37

    Jonathan: Gandhi’s ideals have never yet been put into practice, so we can’t say that they have led to poverty anywhere in the world.
    Maslow’s chart of needs would be taken into account as self-evident by the Gandhian philosophy.
    The Gandhian view is not ethereal, but has, on the contrary, a number of very simple, practical approaches to societal and economic problems. In this regard, the concepts of ‘satyagraha’ and ‘swaraj’ (can’t go into all that here) are useful starting points.
    I’m all for mutual respect, if it be mutual. The person who respects another does not, for instance, approach the other’s argument in an a priori denigratory fashion. It is one thing to claim not to be dismissive; it is another not to be dismissive.

  74. 75 Jason Robbins
    September 17, 2008 at 19:31

    This is an interesting and meaningful debate. I only wish it were more public and could take place between some more involved figures.

    Winston Churchill gives a nice quote that many have touched on:

    If the human race wishes to have a prolonged and indefinite period of material prosperity, they have only got to behave in a peaceful and helpful way toward one another.

    Finally, you can take another famous quote from Sir Churchill and insert ‘capitalism’ and ‘economic system’:

    It has been said that democracy [capitalism] is the worst form of government [economic system] except all the others that have been tried.

    All the best,

    JR

  75. 76 Joe Kopnitsky
    September 19, 2008 at 13:57

    We must have an alternative of course there is an alternative but it is not spoken because those who benefit from the present system control the political power and the educational system and the belief syster the economic system the information system.

    Nearly all of us know what the replacement must be.

    However we cannot afford this system we are destroying our selvs and our world just to make rich men richer. This system central core is mining – in sted of taking the resources to turn into cash then carting them off to the land fill. Or using our resource to make military machinery we need to be conserving them for future generations. Just how impoverished do we want to leave our children?

  76. 77 Joe Kopnitsky
    September 19, 2008 at 14:07

    Yes they have been tried but they have been visciously fought by capitalists.
    Capitalism is an other name for war. Socialism is built around peace, Capitalism is built and maintained by fearful insecure people who attempt aswage there insecurity with the accumulation of wealth. The west never tried socialism and used its vast propagand tools (advertising aparatus) to keep the people in the dark on it’s possibilities.

    A little note;

    We must have an alternative of course there is an alternative but it is not spoken because those who benefit from the present system control the political power and the educational system and the belief syster the economic system the information system.

    However we cannot afford this system we are destroying our selvs and our world just to make rich men richer. This system central core is mining – in sted of taking the resources to turn into cash then carting them off to the land fill. Or using our resource to make military machinery we need to be conserving them for future generations. Just how impoverished do we want to leave our children?

  77. October 4, 2008 at 02:51

    Two words: Economic Democracy

  78. 79 Sunil
    November 25, 2008 at 13:28

    Presently all the nations in this world are broadly classified into three different categories i.e. 1) Developed nations, 2) Developing nations and 3) Underdeveloped nations.

    It would be interesting to analyse as to nations falling in which category have adopted which system (i.e. capitalist, socialist, communist) of economy, to understand which system of economy has worked the best over a period of years.

    Although no nation can theoretically and completely follow one system of economy, it is the degree to which a nation follows a particular system of economy that matters the most.

    I would like to quote Mr. Churchill here:

    “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”
    Winston Churchill

  79. March 14, 2009 at 18:02

    Economics after capitalism will be based commons regimes and the wiki principle that has given us free software and the internet.

    Capitalism is ecologically impossible and inherently unstable.

    The Whose Common Future document from the corner house, a think tank based in Dorset fleshes out the alternative in some detail.

  80. October 21, 2009 at 20:39

    Initial disgust with greedy capitalism has been tempered by considering my own actions.
    I have tinges of guilt buying items made in sweat shops but still buy them. Pictures of children scraping an existance from waste heaps in South America is awful but I can dismiss the images.
    I am no better than the beneficiaries of Third World exploitation who, own beautiful homes in the pleasant parts of America and Europe and allow me to enjoy a relatively comfortable lifestyle to keep their families and homes in stable safe surroundings,’A dog has to be very hungry before it would eat its master’.
    So, I do not want to dig in waste dumps, neither do I want those children to suffer but I am not sure that I am prepared to suggest any alternative to capitalism but one thing is certain. Those rich men are walking a very fine line.


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