- Capitalism and Alternatives -

No they haven't.

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on July 23, 1999 at 12:31:48:

In Reply to: Things have gone much better in Poland and other Eastern European countries. posted by DonS on July 20, 1999 at 10:46:35:

: : : I frankly don't see anything wrong with the production of materials, and the social problems we face are overrated.

: : SDF: Tell that to the 800 million undernourished people on the planet. I'm sure they'll be impressed with the dexterity of your argument, if they have enough caloric reserves to even listen to you.

: Don: And how many of these people live in socialist Third World nations, or nations torn by wars instigated by various communist liberation movements?

SDF: Only where "socialism" is a cover for tribal warfare. By definition, a socialist country is a place where the government's first duty is the elimination of starvation. Countries that don't fulfill that criteria aren't really socialist. Socialism doesn't cause starvation, poverty does. Please consider NJ's piece on socialism carefully.

: : : Most of our current social problems are caused by socialism and government regulation.

: : SDF: Which explains why the starvation is a serious problem in the least-regulated parts of Africa and India?

: Don: In Africa, the problem is the various governments. Socialist governments which gain by starving their people.

SDF: You mean like Cameroon, where de-nationalization of the economy as ordered by IMF austerity plans has created a starvation problem, or Somalia, where there's practically no government? How about the Islamic fundamentalist regime of Sudan, they socialist? Yeah, we heard of Ethiopia -- they're tribal chauvinists masquerading as socialists. And then there's the capitalist genocide in Congo, started by the Belgians, created lots of starving people, doesn't seem to have ended...

: : : We are making headway: welfare reform has been a great success in the US,

: : SDF: Depending on your definition of "success" -- it's pushed people off the rolls, it hasn't reduced the % of people living below the poverty line.

: Don: Of course, the average person in France lives below the US poverty line. The people I know on welfare own cars, trucks, TVs, and lots of other stuff. They eat well. They are young and healthy. And they sleep in untill 2 or 3 pm.

SDF: I debunked the right-wing stereotype of welfare recipients waaaay down on this list... most of the real recipients of welfare are the temporarily unemployed... I'll look for the old links I posted, there were seven or eight of them.

: : : and allowing citizens to carry concealed firearms has resulted in lower violent crime rates.

: : SDF: No, it's the end of the recession that did that. And I really doubt you have any convincing evidence to show otherwise.

: Don: False. Lott and Mustard did the most extensive study on the matter in history. They covered almost every county in the US. They did multiple regressions. They showed that the biggest effect on crime was increased concealed carry. They did regressions for all possible causes, and economic factors were rulled out. You see, when Florida enacts a liberalized concealed carry law, crime drops there. But not in other states. When Texas enacts a liberalized concealed carry law, crime drops there, but not in other states. Since some 30 states passed such laws, they had plenty of data points to look at. They could compare between states with similar economic situations but with different laws.

SDF: Can you give us all a bibliographic cite on this one?

: : : Employment is high, the standard of living is high, and if we can enact more free market reforms things will get even better.

SDF: Precisely why crime is down, according to everything I've read.

: : SDF: The US is the only country where one can safely say such a thing, esp. given that the rest of the world is subsidizing US economic exuberance by being its "flea market" -- Japan (another "socialist" country, ha ha) is in recession and suicide is way up, there -- the expansion of the "free market" into Asia or South America or Russia isn't the occasion for such glib hubris, either.

: Don: Russia and Japan and the "Asian Tigers" do not represent capitalism.

SDF: Yes they do, since all of these countries have huge amounts of foreign investment.

: Russia still has to much government control, and government owned buisnesses.

SDF: That's because that part of the Russian economy that has been privatized has been basically ripped off by the Russian Mafia. They're obviously afraid to go further.

: Asia is different, but it is in fact "crony capitalism", not true capitalism.

SDF: Please go back and read Doug Henwood's article as I posted its link, an explanation has already been made. Look, the fact that you and your friends like to describe Vietnam as "communist" hasn't guided any of Nike's investment decisions, nor has it curtailed their enormous profits from business done in Vietnam.

: Don: Things have gone much better in Poland and other Eastern European countries.

SDF: Also, please read "Market failure : a guide to the East European 'economic miracle'" by László Andor and Martin Summers. I'll post stuff from it as soon as I can get to a library where I have a card, where it's not checked out yet. Capitalism in eastern Europe has been another scam.

: : : The environment is quite good in the US. To bad that so much harm was visited upon the environment by the socialist governments of the former Soviet Union, East Germany, et al.

: : SDF: Well, there's always global warming...

: : : Equity isn't an issue to me.

: : SDF: Which means that it isn't an issue for anyone else either? Not the 800 million at the bottom of the global economy who earn as much combined as Bill Gates earns? How egocentric.

: Don: No. I am interested in freedom. Efforts to force equity will result in a loss of freedom. And possibly mass starvation, if the socialists get enough of their agenda through . . .

SDF: Depends upon what freedom means to you. The freedom of a capitalist exploiter is not the freedom of someone who has access to schools and literacy, to a decent wage and decent job conditions, all the fruits of "socialism"...

: : : Neither is relative standards of living. I know of people in the US who worked hard and went from poverty level wages (the way poverty is defined in the US) to very high pay--in short order. In the US, the poor can become well-to-do fast. Some poor tend to stay that way: these are the ones who refuse to work and stay at home collecting welfare checks.

: : SDF: Or maybe they refuse to deal crack cocaine, which is the only way out of poverty in many US neighborhoods. See the chapter of William Finnegan's book COLD NEW WORLD about New Haven, Connecticut, if you want to know what I'm talking about.

: Don: Me and my wife had a combined salery of about 19k two years ago . . . were we above the poverty line? We now make way more than that. I fail to see why others can't do the same.

SDF: The poverty line is hardly an indicator of poverty -- if I earn 19k a year, and all of it is going to pay the rent or to survive without a home (as the working poor in Florida do, according to an article by Barbara Ehrenreich in the February 1999 HARPERS), then I'm richer than I otherwise would be if my overhead weren't so high. Go ahead, see if you can't find COLD NEW WORLD...

: : : These are the ones that don't want to work. Getting them off of welfare is the best thing for them. If Third World countries adopt the free market, their standard of living will improve.

: : SDF: Well, there are the "free market" countries of Latin America and Africa, which have experienced no net improvement in living standards since 1980... got any evidence to show otherwise?

: Don: I don't know of any true free market country on either continent you mention.

SDF: I've already pointed out -- the fact that you and your purist friends don't call them "true free market countries" doesn't exclude the possibility of their being under the spell of IMF-directed "austerity plans," nor does it exclude enormous amounts of multinational corporate investment that has gone on in these same countries. The logic is pretty obvious -- people starve in these places because they can't afford food...

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