So….I have a facebook page now. I don’t know why. I think had to do with a Dresden files thing. Finally broke down. I’m probably going to regret it.
Anyways, I found this image on there, thanks to a friend.
Which, I suppose, is kind of fair. If you have no money, you cannot buy. If you cannot buy, then you cannot support businesses. If businesses are not supported, then they can not pay their workers. Who in turn cannot buy new products.
Of course, this is put out by some group that is against the Tea Party. Now, I’m going to state this outright: I don’t like the Tea Party. When they came out, I liked their message. I even went to a meeting, filled with the anger of youth and wanting action. And all they did was talk. Heck, R was an organizer for them back in the day, and got kicked out for being to “proactive.”
Which should tell you something. 😛
Of course, in the comments on the pic (as of when I looked) there was one person talking about how we needed to consume less and return to community values (fair enough, I’ve been talking about a return/reformation of communities) though I’m not sure how that fixes our economy. Someone else talked about how capitalism was a “Dead horse” and we need to move on to something else.
Which struck me as, well, kind of ignorant. I mean, okay, there’s a limited number of economic models out there. Capitalism, Communism, Barter, and Feudal. We’ve done Barter and Feudal in the past. Feudal Economics, one person owns the land, the rest work that land, and give a portion to the owner as payment for using the land. Said workers tend to live rather poor lives (although I would argue that in a lot of ways, the peasants of the middle ages still had better lives than we do in some ways). Barter economics is actually not that different from Capitalism, the only difference is that with Capitalism uses currency (or “capital) rather than other objects like the objects you produce. So instead of trading wool for wood, we trade wool for money, then use money to buy wood. That way we’re lugging around a few ounces of paper rather than several hundred pounds of…whatever it is you make.
So that leaves us with Communism. The fundamental tenant of communism is something along the lines of “For each, according to his needs, by each according to his means.” This translates something along the lines of “everyone should get what he needs, and everyone works to the limits he is able to produce for everyone else to get what they need.”
Which, you know, on the surface doesn’t sound all that bad. Of course, the surface isn’t all there is. The first problem is how do you decide what someone “needs.” I mean, does a man need good quality food, or will food sufficient for him to survive be enough? After all, does a person have the right to have proper nutrition, an abundance of fresh veggies and meats? Or merely to enough that they can survive well enough to work to produce for the rest of society’s needs? Certainly, I doubt that anyone needs an Xbox, so that’s probably right out the window. Big screen tvs certainly aren’t a need. They are a want.
But more importantly, how do we get the things that people “need.” Well, someone has to make it. To grow the food, build the houses, etc. Of course, some people won’t like that work. But its work that needs to be done, irregardless of if you like it or not. Capitalism gets around this by giving people money for their work so they can (supposedly) use it to buy things. But in communism…there isn’t that. You’re already gonna get everything you “Need” so why work? Well, there’s an easy way to get people to work, and its been used by Communism in every situation where its been practiced long enough.
It’s called force.
Well, that sounds absolutely wonderful. Now we aren’t workers being exploited by those fat cats with all the money. No, we’re workers being exploited by the government, only instead of getting a bit of money to buy things, we’ve got proverbial and sometimes literal guns pointed at our heads to make us work. Clearly this is the better choice.
So look, I don’t like the Tea party. They frankly failed to do what they initially set out to do, which was bridge party lines and try and get things on track. They’re tools. But stop and think about what it is you’re wanting when you protest. Most people think they’re gonna be on the in crowd for the things they call for. They rarely stop to think about the fact that they’re going to end up on the outside. You go for a “better” way because it doesn’t exploit like the current system, but you don’t stop to think about how it will exploit in other ways.
Communism is an interesting beastie. It actually works rather well in very small communities, but as soon as you get to anything more than about 100 people someone has to be put in charge on a more permanent basis. As soon as someone is “in charge” you have defeated the object of communism. The system falls to corruption.
Barter also works very well on smaller scales. If I’m trading goods with relatively close neighbors without having to revert to cash (which may or may not retain value over time) then everyone gets the stuff they need. Shipping long distances increases the overall energy input to the items and thus their value, which means that barter essentially becomes stretched too thin over large areas. I would like to point out that we are already seeing a resurgence of the barter economy on local areas. I trade manual labor for firewood. I also get vegetable scraps from local stands to use as goatfood and I’ve been known to ‘rent out’ the goats to people who want their yards mowed. I’ve seen many a jar of jelly trade hands for eggs and hard-to grow vegetables. Barter is alive and well on the small scale.
Capitalism works less terribly than the rest at larger scales. When an economy is based on growth we must understand that growth is not infinite and plan accordingly. Unfortunately we have not done this. Cash can be your friend if you want to ship your goods any long distance, or transfer their value into something more portable. This does require that someone be willing to pay cash for your goods more locally.
I don’t think there is a perfect system. I think there are different systems based on what a local community is attempting to accomplish.
Lucius Svartwulf said:
Well, said. No system is perfect. I think on the largest scale, capitalism is best, but I do admit I have a fondness for the barter system. 🙂
Capitalism… I would say that calling capitalism a “dead horse” isn’t a good idea, mostly because we don’t seem to have a real system of capitalism. The idea of capitalism is that if everybody works for what they want and need, that will naturally balance out supply and demand. If a product or service is needed or wanted, someone will step up to sell that. If one of the main sellers of a good messes up their finances and crashes and burns, somebody else will be standing by to take their place- ideally, someone who is more competent and shrewd than the first guys. But that doesn’t happen here, does it? We rescue businesses that are flagging, and that and their tax discounts combined can’t seem to keep them in business. That’s just one example of how this country isn’t truly capitalist. There are many. Hell, you could argue that illegalization of drugs is not capitalistic. That’s clearly not an example of the government taking a “hands-off” approach to the market, and it’s an attempt to stop supply from meeting demand.
Lucius Svartwulf said:
well said, you have hit the nail on the head. a lot of the complaints about capitalism actually come from the fact we don’t really have a true form of capitalism out there atm.