Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Socialism or Capitalism?--An Editorial


Socialism or capitalism?

Published Apr 19, 2009 9:31 PM

There was a time when the captains of finance and industry were proud of the label capitalist. “Forbes—Capitalist Tool” was a magazine popular with the Wall Street crowd. Schools taught about the benefits of capitalism over its biggest enemy, socialism.

Somewhere along the way, the enthusiasm for capitalism began to wane. Maybe it had to do with the fact that real wages were dropping and benefits were being slashed while the super-rich were whooping it up. More popular-sounding phrases began to take over. Countries were being pressured to accept “free markets.” The people who put up “venture capital” were called “entrepreneurs.” The magazine of multi-millionaire Steve Forbes became just plain “Forbes.”

Then came the housing crisis, the stock market dive, the jobs crisis, the budget cuts, the credit card crisis—in other words, the boom-to-bust crisis of capitalism that was inevitable in this profit system. The super-rich demanded, and got, trillions of dollars from the government to shore up their banks and other financial instruments.

But for millions of workers and dispossessed, the bottom has dropped out of their lives. More and more they are realizing this is the product of capitalism.

A national telephone survey was conducted recently by the polling firm Rasmussen Reports. It asked a simple question: Which is better, capitalism or socialism?

Just four months ago, in December, a similar poll asked people if they preferred a “free market economy” over one managed by the government. Some 70 percent were for the free market. But now, it seems, they don’t think capitalism is so “free.” In the new poll, two-thirds said big business and big government work together against the people’s interests. Now only 53 percent say they prefer capitalism over socialism. Among younger people, 37 percent prefer capitalism, 33 percent socialism, and 30 percent are undecided.

After so much Red Scare propaganda in this country, a lot of people are confused about socialism—although fewer than before. What if the questions were phrased this way:

Would you prefer an economy run by workers (socialism) or by bosses (capitalism)?

Would you prefer an economy geared to meeting people’s needs (socialism) or geared to producing profits for a few (capitalism)?

Do you think people should have a right to a job, a home, education and health care (socialism), or that the rich should have the right to fire, evict, foreclose, underfund the schools and deny medical care (capitalism)?
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