I think we have all seen this. It’s “you have two cows” method of explaining complex systems in a simple, folksy way. The classic ones here are the “Socialist”, “Communist” and “Capitalism, American Style”. Those three are the meat.
And you can tell straight away that this is crap. Because it’s talking about cows. The simple fact that cows are the frame of reference here reveal how out-of-touch, how antiquated this mindset, this way of thinking is. Since when did people have cows? I’ll wager that less then one percent of Americans own cows. I’ll also wager that the vast majority of people have not owned cows in a long time – if they ever did at all.
And so, with that being said, let’s dive in with some basic definitions. Capitalism, at its most basic level, essentially means that private citizens or corporations own capital (capital being essentially the resources of production, like land, equipment, money, factories, cars, etc). Socialism implies that the government owns a significant portion of a nation’s capital, or certain sectors of production, usually utilities, airlines, transportation, etc. It also seems to imply bureaucratic welfare programs via taxes. Communism effectively means that the government owns all capital.
Basically, the cow-nomics chart basically just re-iterates popular conservative misconceptions about the way societies work.
The “Socialist” entry implies that the government takes something of yours and gives it to someone how does not deserve it. The result is that both of you are poor (because aside from some milk, nothing can happen). This argument only makes sense to people who haven’t been paying attention to how the economy actually works; what is actually happening?
Some of these are weird and delusional, but I’ll stick with “Capitalism, American Style”, where you sell a cow and buy a bull and then you get a herd. Hidden here is some old puritan predestination. If I work hard…I will be rewarded; my economic life, which mirrors my personal life is moral and will prosper. It’s implied because the whole “herd” just sorta appears. It’s the moral assumptions that I reject.
Look – our economy is mixed. And our technologically advanced society is almost impossibly complex. Even talking in terms of “capitalism” or “socialism” or “communism” makes NO SENSE AT ALL. The second someone starts talking about one versus they other, they are simply attempting to change the subject or confuse the issue. The basic roots of “capitalism” stems from basic human nature and will remain essentially unchanged (for example, look at the Soviet Union or China; they where unable to change the basic structure of complex human society.
We need to have a sensible conversation about how our economy actually works with out references to trite academic debates that were wearing thin and where becoming outdated by the 1930s.
I should be able to talk about reducing the military budget in this country and taxing the ultra wealthy on their actual net worth without being called a socialist. Especially since this stance that I just put forth is really a fiscally conservative view.
Really the ideas floating around today can be boiled down to neoliberalism, authoritarian capitalism, and steady-state economics. Neoliberalism has been the ruling philosophy in this country since Reagan. Does’t matter which political party which you are from, this has been our effect policy for thirty years.
Neoliberalism can be boiled down to a few basic planks: deregulation (of both industry and and the stock market), tax cuts, cuts to welfare and social security programs; it’s associated with open trade and globalisation. But it is also a comprehensive social philosophy which panders to the super rich and poor or threatened whites in this country. It’s the idea that
Remember the Greek debt crisis? That’s neoliberalism at work. Here’s how it goes. Money is loaned to a poor country in exchange for certain agreements (usually deregulation, dropping of trade barriers, removal of welfare programs). The idea is that this will allow capitalism to work its magic; the resulting growth in the economy will pay off the loan. But that hasn’t been happening. What really happens is a vicious cycle; the poor country is turned into a colony. Foreign corporations are able to wipe out the domestic businesses. Tourism, raw or rare materials become the only real economic motor in these countries.