Social Question

stanleybmanly's avatar

Is capitalism the enemy?

Asked by stanleybmanly (22180points) January 11th, 2018 from iPhone

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve done well playing the game. But it seems to me that if the typical guy plans to ply the traditional path of getting that traditional job and getting ahead, the odds are stacked against him

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12 Answers

rojo's avatar

Capitalism in its present incarnation is not the best economic system for the vast majority of people, although it is possible for a minority of the people to do well but this is usually at the expense of others.

CWOTUS's avatar

“A traditional job” is not a very accurate representation what capitalism is.

Capitalism makes some people very rich: those who are willing and able to successfully evaluate, accept and deal with risk to achieve a reward. (Not all of those who are willing to evaluate, accept and deal with risk manage the end result of achieving wealth, however. Sometimes the risk still wins.)

However, whether “capitalists themselves” win out or not, during the time of their enterprises they have a demand – from the first startup to the day they close their doors for good and go out of business in a sad auction of bankruptcy assets (if that occurs) – there is a need for labor and those “traditional jobs” that you mention. Whoever holds those “traditional jobs” owes them to… capitalism, at least in the USA. (I can’t speak for the rest of the world, but the model seems to be pretty widespread.)

The entire middle class owes its existence to capitalism. Prior to the advent of capitalism, even if we disregard aristocracy and nobility, we had classes of rulers, warriors dependent on the rulers (or becoming them), clergy and merchants – merchants were generally not capitalists, but some of whom transitioned into that role – and the great mass of yeoman farmers and peasants. There wasn’t a lot of distinction between the yeomanry and the peasantry, either; they all lived pretty miserable lives on dirt floors and powered by their own manual labor.

People tend to become envious of those – relatively few – capitalists who strike it rich and achieve almost unspendably great wealth, while ignoring that those capitalists and others like them have provided the jobs that allow them to enjoy their more modest success.

The last time I looked, the figures for what it cost – someone! – to provide the infrastructure for a person to have “a job” (a generic job, whether office, manufacturing, distribution, transportation – just “a job”) was somewhere > $120,000 per capita. “Jobs” don’t grow on trees. And even when they do, such as in farming, or in this example, an orchard, someone had to take the long term risk to plant, nurture and maintain those trees to a point of maturity that someone could drive by and say “look at all that wealth growing on that tree”. It’s not automatic. That’s capitalism.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

A big resounding YES.

LostInParadise's avatar

There is no pure capitalism. The lesson of the Great Depression is that some government involvement is necessary. Pure capitalism works in the long run, but can be devastating in the short term.

There is also no pure socialism. The lesson from the Soviet Union, China and recently from Venezuela is that pure socialism is unworkable.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

I don’t know if Capitalism is the enemy, as much as greed is.
The odds today are stacked against the normal working man,who per capita pays more in income tax than the large corporations do.
And even Warren Buffet commented saying his secretary is in a higher tax bracket than he is.
The right of course will try and chime in and say this isn’t true,with saying corporations pay millions in tax,the working slob doesn’t.
I am saying it’s per capita not the actual amount, but the right just refuse to believe that.

Strauss's avatar

Capitalism, in and of itself, is not the villain. However, in its present unregulated and deregulated form, capitalism is set up to abuse, not complement, the “small r” republican form of government in the US. A free market is not necessarily an unregulated market. Unregulated capitalism leads to the kind of excesses that existed during the days of Robber Baron oligarchy capitalism.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@SQUEEKY2. But squeek if capitalism is a train, isn’t greed the locomotive?

KNOWITALL's avatar

No, it’s not capitalism, society is experiencing a change that has little to do with the muscles of the great white male, so they are being left behind in modern society. Which imo is one of the reason’s Trump won the election.

johnpowell's avatar

Capitalism is effing fantastic. I am not joking. I ran a web-based company from a RV in my sisters backyard.

However, I call myself a Socialist.

When I was doing this it was around 2008 so things were going to shit and work was drying up.

So you know the old adage of “save enough to go six months without income”? I did that. But not for myself. I had enough retained earnings I could cover six months of salaries for everyone. Even if they did nothing.

And the majority of my clients were real estate agents at the time. So things went bad fast. I ended up living in a basement with my bed 6 feet away from a washing machine.

I made sure the people I employed were covered while finding new jobs.

My point is if employers gave a single shit about their employees we would not be having this conversation.

Zaku's avatar

Well, the game of capitalization has been effectively “won” by the banks of the world, the megacorporations and the very wealthy, long ago. The game Monopoly is a lot like it. The more you own and have, the more you win. Continuing to play past a certain point is just waiting for the poorer players to be eliminated as they are forced to pay all their money to the player who owns the most.

By allowing large immortal organizations, and groups of organizations, to continue to amass wealth and power, they’ll eventually dominate everyone and everything else, until larger games destroy them, whether that’s a transformation of ideas, political revolutions, violent revolutions, wars, crises, and/or worldwide environmental disaster as industry finally ruins what’s left of our planet and it vomits us off it one way or another.

So, I wouldn’t use the words “the enemy”, but I’d say it’s a terrible game to keep playing as if it were the only game, at this point. Humanity needs to reorganize its thinking and its economics so that the goal is a healthy happy planet, instead of the goal being for one player to own everything and eliminate everyone else.

MrGrimm888's avatar

It has advantages. But it is unsustainable. Eventually, the companies that use the cheapest labor, parts/ingredients, and end up providing the poorest quality product get ahead. Greed causes more attempts to increase profit. Jobs are outsourced, and that takes away lots of jobs from the capitalist country. It lowers the quality of services, and products. It strengthens other economies.

As mentioned above, it’s good for a small amount of people, and that amount gets smaller. Like now, where a handful of people own all the world’s wealth, and the rest slide backwards…

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