Free-market capitalism is a harmonious, aesthetically pleasing, balanced machine; it produces things we need and want, and it keeps more of us safe, happy and warm than any other economic system yet devised.
In America, where we admittedly have a mixed system, capitalism has been good to us. And, unless we turn away from it, capitalism will continue to be good to us. Instead of moving toward (or expanding) government control of things like health care, schools, transportation and housing, Americans should turn toward capitalism. It can and will solve our problems.
But, America sometimes stumbles in the other direction — toward government control, and a soft, sickly, wasteful version of socialism. Years after the Cold War ended with the collapse of socialist Russia, and after years of watching European countries such as France struggle with socialism, some Americans still cling to the outdated notion that socialist programs are what we need in America. They’re not. Socialist programs fail everywhere, unless they’re propped up by capitalism in a mixed system.
But, even if they don’t completely fail in our mixed system, socialist policies are still the wrong answer because they’re almost always inefficient, bureaucratic money pits that provide more hassle than service.
Perhaps these people reason that implementing socialist policies is the socially responsible thing to do. These people cloak their socialist ideas in terms of the public good and helping the poor, and often use emotion as a key part of their argument. The problem is, logic and history matter; it matters that socialism has proven itself to be inferior in the real world.
The results of a program — not its creator’s intentions — are what really matter, and in this realm capitalism wins because of its inherent strengths. An integral part of capitalism is efficiency, or producing the best possible products in the cheapest possible manner. Capitalism is also efficient because it produces the number, quality and type of things people need or are willing to pay for. Socialism, on the other hand, produces exactly the number of products a government is willing to subsidize.
Consider the case of private transportation versus public transportation: in this case, Amtrack, which receives at least one billion in financing from the federal government. In addition to government support, Amtrack charges passengers ticket charges.
According to an article in the National Post: “Amtrack was created by Congress in 1970 to take over the myriad money-losing passenger rail services being jettisoned by freight rail companies in the face of increasing competition from new multi-lane inter-state highways and low-cost air travel.”
The article also says: “Amtrack … will likely never make money, never be self-sufficient and will always need government hand-outs to survive as a national passenger rail service, even if the private sector took it over or became a partner.”
While public transportation, in this case Amtrack, will never be profitable, private transportation in the form of taxis make money every day of the week. And, people who drive their own, personal automobiles (a product they get to choose, rather than the product the government chooses for them), are a more efficient mode of transportation.
Clearly, private transportation — like nearly all things private and capitalist — is cheaper and more desirable.
Matthew White is a senior magazine
journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]