Category Archives: socialism v capitalism

Economically Stuck

Many Republicans feel that all buying and selling or any transaction that involves trading goods and services must be accomplished through structures that meet their definition of free market or capitalist activities.


noun \ˈka-pə-tə-ˌliz-əm, ˈkap-tə-, British also kə-ˈpi-tə-\

Definition of CAPITALISM

: an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market

They obviously feel that things like health care are products and that if the government coordinates even something as necessary for all citizens as health care, services must be provided within the system of capitalism as recognized by Conservatives in America. First of all I am not at all sure that health care services count as “capital goods”. In the second place, our Constitution does not limit us to any particular economic system. I read the Constitution and I did not find the spot where it said that all business in America must be conducted by private owners or corporations. I do know that the very invocation of the word socialism strikes terror in the hearts of many Americans. I suppose bad things have been done in the name of socialism, but capitalism has not always produced absolute fairness or compassionate behavior either.

Does Social Security qualify as socialism? I always thought it was a retirement plan that the government administered for the people. Since we are “the people”, and since “the people” are the government of America, I fail to see how Social Security qualifies as socialism.

Do Medicare and Medicaid qualify as socialism?


noun \ˈsō-shə-ˌli-zəm\

Definition of SOCIALISM


: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods


a: a system of society or group living in which there is no private property

b: a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state


: a stage of society in Marxisttheory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done


As socialism is defined here, our public health care programs, although administered by the Federal government, do not qualify as socialism. Medical services do not qualify as either a means of production or a distribution of goods, except as interpreted by the private health insurance industry who is trying to turn medical care into an assembly line. The American people voted to have certain aspects of health care administered at the Federal level because it promised the lowest costs. Health care should not be a for-profit business many of us feel. Since we, the people, are the government, we own the public health care system. It does not belong to a government that is separate from the people and therefore does not qualify as socialism.

Societies learned through sad experience that a certain level of support is necessary to keep society free of disease and that it is humane to ameliorate misery so that everyone has some level of creature comfort in his/her daily life. We have learned that the free market cannot be expected to provide for these basic societal niceties since there is little or no profit to be gained by providing these supportive services. If we can harden our hearts to ignore the sorrowful lives some children were forced to live when governments did not provide a basic safety net, then we can stop offering a basic standard of living to those who dwell at the bottom of the economic scale. Of course, we will have to live with children who are sick, improperly clothed, and unhygienic, and we will probably live with more pests and a lot of guilt. In these enlightened times every culture that can do so must and does provide for the less fortunate members of the culture. I am stunned every time I hear the GOP suggest that we get rid of the safety net and that we do so in the name of forcing people to climb up out of the muck. That will not happen and they know it. It is possible that charitable groups and churches will try to take on these tasks, but they weren’t very successful in Charles Dicken’s London and I doubt that they would have more success today. That is a very uneven and haphazard way to provide aid. Some things need to be administered at the Federal level and that does not make us socialists. That term is thrown around way too often to incite fear and to bring everyone back into line as what the Republicans would describe as good little capitalists.

America is a free society. I don’t know why we have to limit ourselves to only one economic model. We should be free to apply the model that fits the needs of the people at that time. We will usually chose capitalism when it comes to straight business, but not necessarily for services that are basic to keeping a healthy and civilized nation. We are stuck economically, stuck with a choice that is being parsed in terms from the 30’s and 40’s and which may be too limiting in light of modern needs and population numbers.

The Republican Party is guilty of trying to dictate to the America people that there is only one correct way to conduct all business and service in our nation and they supposedly are doing this in the name of democracy. They are doing this, in part, by attaching emotional labels to the programs Americans use to insure that poor children and their families will have a floor under their poverty and the programs Americans use after they are “excused” from their careers and allowed to spend some time “in the pasture” before they die. If you put on a nasty face and lump all these programs together under the category of “socialism” or worse you are trying to dictate how the people achieve their service goals. By placing our choices in taboo categories you are hoping to achieve a totally separate outcome, small government, which attempts to take compassion and pragmatism out of government because they are “too expensive.”

Does anyone else see the contradiction in this? I know some of us see the greed in this. If our nation is so poor that we truthfully cannot provide for our poorest members and our seniors and our sick then it would seem that this dire condition would be clear to all of us and not just the GOP. Is the American economy really bankrupt? Is it true that we cannot afford compassion? If so we may have to admit that our nation is in decline. Or is this just another case where we are stuck because we are so busy looking backward we can’t see what’s ahead?